Are you an avid coffee connoisseur? Have you ever been baffled by the subtle yet distinct differences between frothed milk and steamed milk? If so, this blog post is for you! Whether you’re in it for that perfectly creamy cappuccino foam or simply trying to figure out what goes into each type of espresso-based beverage, we are here to tell you all about the difference between steamed milk vs frothed milk.
You will learn what sets these two milks apart and their unique roles in drinks like lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos – even hot chocolate! Read on to unlock all the secrets behind how these two milks are made and why their flavors can vary depending on your barista’s choice of process.
What Is Steamed Milk?
Steamed milk is made by using a steam wand to heat the milk. The process works when a hot pressurized air is inserted through an opening in the wand into the pitcher filled with cold whole or non-fat milk. This creates a swirling motion that slowly heats up the milk and increases its volume by adding tiny air bubbles. As it gets closer to its desired temperature, the wand is moved in a circular motion, adding more air pockets into the milk, making it frothy. The result is steamed milk with a light and velvety texture.
You can use steamed milk in lattes, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate drinks. Most baristas prefer using steamed milk when creating latte art.
How To Steam Milk?
Steaming milk is an art that requires a bit of practice and skill. Here’s how to do it like a pro:
- Start by selecting your milk of choice, whether it’s cold whole milk for a creamy texture or non-fat milk 1 for a lighter option. Pour it into a stainless steel pitcher, filling it about one-third full. This will give the milk enough space to expand as it steams.
- Position the steam wand just below the surface of the milk, ensuring that it is angled slightly off-center. This will create a swirling motion that helps incorporate air into the milk and achieve that perfect frothy consistency.
- Activate the steam wand and gradually lower it into the milk, allowing it to create a small vortex in the middle. The vortex will help distribute the heat evenly and break up any larger bubbles that may form.
- As you move the steam wand around, pay attention to the sound and temperature of the milk. The sound should be a gentle hissing, indicating that the steam is properly aerating the milk. Adjust the depth of the wand accordingly to control the rate of steaming and achieve your desired temperature.
- Once the milk reaches the ideal temperature, usually around 150°F (65°C), turn off the steam and carefully remove the pitcher from underneath the wand. Give it a gentle swirl to incorporate any remaining bubbles and create a smooth, velvety texture.
- Now, you’re ready to pour your beautifully steamed milk into your favorite coffee or espresso drink, creating latte art or enjoying a deliciously creamy beverage. With practice, you’ll become a master at steaming milk and elevate your coffee experience to a whole new level of perfection.
What Is Frothed Milk?
Frothed milk is foamy milk created by vigorously whisking, shaking, or blending cold milk until it forms a light, airy foam. As the fat globules are agitated, they rise to the surface and create a thick layer of bubbles. Unlike steamed milk — which requires special equipment and some practice — frothing can be done quickly and easily with just a few tools, such as an electric frother or even a mason jar and lid.
Frothed milk is commonly used to top off coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes or macchiatos. Or you may find it served on its own in a cup of floating foam, a famous specialty treat for coffee lovers. The light and airy texture of the foam is quite delightful, providing a unique flavor sensation when mixed in with your favorite brewed espresso or latte.
How To Froth Milk?
Frothing milk is a simple yet delightful process involving mixing, shaking, or blending cold milk until it transforms into a light, airy foam. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you achieve the perfect froth:
- Begin by pouring cold, whole-fat (3-4%) milk into your chosen frother, blender, or mason jar. Follow the recommended milk quantity specified in your specific frother’s instructions for optimal results.
- If using a mason jar, tightly secure the lid and vigorously shake it for approximately 30 seconds or until you notice the formation of small bubbles in the milk.
- In the case of an electric frother, simply press the “froth” button and wait a few seconds before carefully lifting the pitcher from its base to inspect the foam.
- For those using a blender, set it to high speed and blend for 15-30 seconds until the milk thickens and small bubbles appear on the surface.
- Remember to immediately serve the frothed milk while the foam is fresh and at its peak.
What Are The Differences Between Steamed Milk Vs Frothed Milk?
You can create steamed and frothed milk with the same equipment but differ in consistency, texture, flavor, and purpose.
With its high-heat treatment, steamed milk undergoes a process that gives it a creamy, velvety texture and slightly thicker consistency than frothed milk. This is due to small air bubbles incorporated during steaming, contributing to its subtly foamy texture. On the other hand, frothed milk is lighter and fluffier as it is vigorously shaken or blended, creating more air pockets within the liquid.
Frothed milk, with its higher fat content, often boasts a more pronounced and indulgent flavor profile. The increased calorie count lends itself to a sweeter and richer taste compared to steamed milk. Moreover, the process of boiling milk brings forth a delicate, nutty undertone, enhancing the overall sensory experience. On the other hand, plain frothed milk may leave a hint of bitterness lingering on the palate, adding a touch of complexity to its taste.
Steamed milk often creates a rich and creamy base for hot drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, or macchiatos. It also gives volume to espresso-based beverages as they can be added in larger quantities. On the other hand, frothed milk is typically reserved for cold drinks such as iced coffee or frappes. The air bubbles create a foamy, frothy topping that adds an attractive and fluffy texture to any beverage.
The two kinds of milk have different flavor characteristics as well. Steamed milk has a subtle sweetness to it, while frothed milk has a richer and creamier taste. Various ingredients can be added depending on the recipe to enhance the flavor in both cases. Spices like cinnamon or cocoa powder, as well as syrups and honey, are common additions when steaming or frothing milk for hot beverages.
For cold drinks, adding fruits or flavors such as vanilla is a popular option. Whipped cream and marshmallows are also a great way to add an additional level of taste. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference when it comes to achieving maximum flavor with steamed or frothed milk.
Do Types Of Milk Matter?
Yes, the type of milk used makes a difference in flavor and texture.
Non-dairy milk, such as almond, coconut, soy, or oat milk, tend to froth better than their dairy counterparts. This is because they have a lower fat content, which makes them more stable when exposed to high temperatures. As a result, they are perfect for achieving smooth and voluminous froths that add a delightful texture to your coffee or latte.
In contrast, with its higher fat content, cow’s milk creates denser and creamier steams. This creamy texture adds a rich and indulgent element to your favorite hot beverages.
When using dairy milk, the fat content will greatly impact the outcome. With its higher fat content, whole milk produces a creamier texture than semi-skimmed and skimmed milk. This creaminess, in turn, contributes to a richer and sweeter flavor when steaming or frothing the milk. However, it is worth noting that whole milk is also higher in calories compared to its healthier counterparts. Therefore, if you are trying to reduce your calorie intake, it is important to consider this aspect while choosing the type of milk to use.
Tips To Avoid When Making Steamed and Frothed Milk?
There are some tips you should keep in mind in order to avoid any mishaps.
Firstly, to get the best results when using dairy milk, make sure that the container is made of stainless steel and not plastic. Plastic containers tend to heat up faster than stainless steel ones, which can cause the milk to burn or stick to the sides of the container.
Secondly, when frothing non-dairy milk, avoid boiling it, as this can create a grainy texture in your beverages. Instead, heat up the milk slowly and remove it from the heat just before it reaches a boil. This will give you better results while preserving its flavor and texture.
Finally, when steaming or frothing milk, leave enough room in the container so that the volume doubles as it expands. This will ensure that your milk is adequately aerated and has a smooth texture.
We’ve explored the differences between steamed milk and frothed milk in-depth. Generally, steamed milk is creamier than foamed milk and has less glossy finish. On the other hand, frothed milk will create more foam than steamed milk and have a light, creamy taste that people often enjoy. Everyone’s preferences vary, but both options can be used for many creative and delicious recipes with some effort and creativity. So why not give them both a try?
Does Steamed Milk Contain Milk Only?
Yes, steamed milk is just milk that has been heated and aerated. No other ingredients are added or necessary.
Is Frothed Milk Healthier Than Steamed Milk?
No, frothed and steamed milk provides the same nutritional benefits as regular milk. The only difference is that foamed milk has more air bubbles, which will give it a light and creamy texture.
What Is The Best Milk To Steam Or Froth?
The best milk to steam or froth is fresh, cold milk with low-fat content. Whole milk works best for achieving maximum foam, but non-dairy milk can also be used. Avoid using ultra-pasteurized or pre-flavored milks, as they can interfere with the steaming and frothing process.
Is It Possible To Froth Cold Milk?
Yes, it is possible to froth cold milk, but this will require more effort than using warm milk. The cold milk will need to be heated before it can be frothed properly, so make sure to use a thermometer and stop frothing when the milk has reached 60-65C. This will ensure that the milk is correctly aerated without becoming too hot or burned.
What Is The Difference Between Frothed Milk And Foam?
Foam is created by forcing air bubbles into the milk through an espresso machine, while frothed milk is lightly aerated to create a light and creamy texture. Frothed milk has more air bubbles than foam and will usually be slightly sweeter due to added sugar or other flavorings. Foam is typically used for a latte or cappuccino, while frothed milk may be used for drinks such as macchiatos or café au lait.
Is It Possible To Reheat Frothed Milk?
Yes, frothed milk can be reheated without losing its texture, but it should always be done gently and over low heat to prevent the milk from burning or becoming lumpy. If reheating in a microwave, use short bursts of time and stir the milk frequently to disperse the heat evenly. You may also need to add some milk or water to ensure it doesn’t become too thick once reheated.
Garry Wells is a knowledgeable and passionate entrepreneur with a decade of experience in the coffee industry. He began as an enthusiastic barista, amassing a wealth of knowledge about coffee firsthand. He decided to pursue his dreams and opened up a cozy café and restaurant that quickly became renowned for its delicious selection of artisanal beverages and meals. His attention to detail and commitment to flavor has made him an icon in the local community, crafting experiences that are both indulgent and memorable.
- Skim milk is considered as non-fat milk which has lower calories compared to other types of milk