Cafe au lait, cappuccino, latte, macchiato, and more. All those delicious coffee beverages that incorporate milk – steamed or frothed – always seem perfectly prepared when created by your local barista. But, once you try your hand at these at home, results are often less than satisfactory.
The first thing to remember is that the equipment you are using just doesn’t do the same job as commercial machines at the cafe. Second, the barista has been trained, and is well-practiced in preparing the milk properly for each beverage. And, finally, you have to practice.
But, that doesn’t mean you can create deliciously sweet froth that is a perfect complement to your beverage. If you’d like a few tips from a barista, read our post Tips from a Barista post, where Tom Pikaart, a noted barista, offers up a few suggestions.
Here we provide a few tool suggestions for your milk steaming and frothing needs. Beware, you won’t turn into a latte art champion overnight, but at least you’ll enjoy trying.
Oh, and remember, if you enjoy a latte or cappucino, you’ll want your milk frothed, not steamed. Steaming is heating milk, and is perfect if you want a cafe au lait (although a little foam isn’t bad). But foaming or frothing, is incorporating air bubbles into the milk. By incorporating air into the milk, you get a sweetness that complements the beverage.
The aerolatte is the original steam free milk frother, and has inspired many imitators. The battery-operated aerolatte comes with a durable shaft and long lasting motor. Easy to use, simply switch on for 15-20 seconds moving the whisk slowly around the outside of the mug. As the milk begins to thicken, raise the whisk so that it is always just under the top of the froth. Dip it down again every now and again just to be sure that all the milk is getting frothed. What can be simpler than that? Available in a variety of finishes. Under $20.
Nespresso Aeroccino 3
The Nespresso Aeroccino line easily creates light, creamy hot or cold milk froth. Just pour in some cold, fresh milk and press the button. Compact and quiet, the Aeroccino quickly produces an exceptional quality milk froth, which can be used in many different coffee recipes. It can also be used to heat milk for a Caffé Latte. The Retro line of Aeroccinos (shown above) is available in 3 stylish colors (red, white and black). The base houses the whisk storage. $99
Jura Milk Frother
The Jura Milk Frother is the quick, easy, no-mess way to make perfect, velvety-soft milk foam for cold drinks such as iced latte, cold chocolate and many other popular hot specialities. Designed in line with JURA’s classic style, it’s the perfect addition to any coffee machine and an indispensable aid for all lovers of specialty beverages. Easy to operate using a single button, it prepares cold, warm or hot milk foam in a flash.
In less than 30 seconds you can easily whip your preheated milk into the airy foam that only a BODUM Latteo milk frother can give you. The silk plastic lid has a deep rim to prevent foam from escaping through the spout. The plunger handle has a comfortable grip and is pleasant and smooth to touch. This frother uses your own muscle to make the froth, simply place the milk (cold or warmed) into the frother, place the lid with the whip on the jug, close the pouring outlet, and plunge the milk. You’ll feel the milk getting thicker. 8 ounce capacity. $25
Breville Milk Café
The Breville Milk Café is a creamy milk and hot chocolate maker that uses induction heating and spinning to make those small bubbles. Simply choose the appropriate frothing disc — latte for a creamy result, the cappuccino disc for more froth — fill with enough milk for one or up to three cups, select your temperature, and start. The Milk Café will froth and turn itself off when the desired temperature is achieved. And as it uses induction heating, you can simply place the jug in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. $129.99