Nothing is quite as satisfying as a thick, frothy layer of foam on top of your takeout cappuccino. But a fancy latte every day eventually adds up. A milk frother is the best way to get café-quality coffee for less without having to leave your home.
There are a few different types of frothers to choose from. Handheld, pump, and electric frothers all work slightly differently and sit at varying price points. In the end, they all take your coffee game to the next level.
Our shopping guide breaks down everything you need to know before buying your own milk frother. We've even included a few suggestions, including our favorite electric option, the Breville Café Milk Frother.
Considerations when choosing milk frothers
What is frothed milk?
Frothed milk is milk that has been vigorously whipped or stirred to a light, airy consistency. It is then heated to release the sugars and combat the bitter taste of coffee or espresso.
Types of milk frothers
Electric: If you're okay with the higher price tag, electric is the way to go. Electric frothers produce large amounts of foam with just a flick of a switch. Usually, electric frothers also heat the milk. In some cases, you can even choose between frothed or steamed milk. In addition to the higher price point, these frothers can sometimes be more difficult to clean.
Pump: Normally made from stainless steel or glass, pump frothers look similar to a French press coffee maker. They are less expensive than an electric frother, but they do take a little bit of effort. First, you need to heat your milk separately. Then pour your heated milk into the milk frother, pumping the plunger lid down until you get the desired foam. Pump frothers are easy to clean and perfect for making enough foam for just one or two drinks.
Handheld: Handheld frothers are an easy and affordable way to up your at-home café game. They look similar to an immersion blender but with a whisk on the end. These handheld whisks are battery powered, making them lightweight and easy to store. You can produce quite a large quantity of foam quickly with a handheld frother, but be careful as it's easy to chip or damage your containers with these tools. You may need to heat your milk separately to produce a quality head of foam.
For the best results, start with milk that's cold from the fridge. Preheated milk does not froth up nearly as well. You can even put the frothing container in the fridge to cool off before you use it. Whole milk creates a sweeter tasting foam, but skim and low-fat milk are easier to work with. If you're looking for a plant-based foam, soy milk — with its high protein count — produces the best results. You should heat your milk to about 150°F immediately after frothing. Once heated, let your milk sit for one to two minutes to thicken up.