Hi there! A few weeks ago, I did a product review on the Linkyo Stainless Steel French press coffee maker. (Here’s a similar version.) I, personally, prefer french pressed coffee combined with frothed milk to make the perfect cup of homemade coffee. The previous post goes over the basics of using a french press and how doing so can help bring a little zen to your mornings. Feel free to check it out by clicking here.
And now… How to make the perfect cup of coffee — Part 2 — The Milk Frother.
What is a milk frother?
A milk frother is exactly what it sounds like—a gadget (either electric or manual) that froths, or aerates, milk. The milk can be either hot or cold and is generally used for specialty coffee drinks. I’ve found that heavier milks (whole, soy, and 2 percent) get better results than thinner types of milk such as fat-free or almond milk.
What type of coffee drinks use frothed milk?
I’m no barista, but I’d venture to say that if you’ve ever had an eyes-rolled-back-sigh-out-loud specialty coffee at your favorite coffee shop—chances are it was the steamed milk that made the biggest difference. Trying to recreate that at home is where the fun and experimentation begins. Some coffee drinks that utilize frothed milk include:
- Cappuccinos – 2 shots espresso + 8oz milk + 8oz foam
- Lattes – 2 shots espresso + 16oz warm milk. Top off with foam.
- Mochas – Same as latte, but add sauce and whipped cream
- Macchiatos – Same as the latte except you put your coffee shots on top.
Manual vs Electric Milk Frothers
There are really only two types of milk frothers—manual or electric. Manual means you’re doing the work to get the milk to the consistency that you prefer. This is done by raising and lowering a plunger in it’s accompanying cup. Electric frothers do the work for you. Many electric milk frothers are a wand style, but, there are some that are a cup design. (There’s even one that heats and froths the milk for you.)
I’ve used the electric wand style in the past and love their speed and compact size. However, the batteries would often die quickly (yes, I make that much coffee!) and if distracted, I’d often end up with frothed milk flying everywhere!(Which often made me wonder if the milk was getting into the battery chamber.)
Because of that, I decided to go with a manual milk frother this time around. This particular one from Vktech to be exact.
The Pros and Cons of the Manual Milk Frother
- Manual: You don’t have to worry about changing the battery
- Volume: It should hold up to 400ml of liquid (that’s about 1 ½ cups), though, I usually pour a ½ cup to get the right amount of frothed milk for my regular morning coffee.
- Double Mesh: If you’re going to use a plunger to froth your milk, by all means, go with one that’s a double mesh design. This cuts the time and effort needed to get results.
- Style: It’s a stainless steel finish, so it’s classic enough to work with any decor.
- Size: This model measures roughly 7” tall x 5.5” wide (including the handle and to the top of the plunger); making it compact enough for small kitchens or coffee bars.
- It’s pretty basic: While simplicity is a good thing in my book, there were no instructions included in the box. So I had to research milk types, volumes for recipes and techniques on my own. There’s been a lot of trial and error.
- Stainless Steel: Yes, I love the look of stainless steel – but – not so much the sound. If metal-on-metal sounds make you cringe – then you’ll want to avoid this tool. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.
- Cleaning: There are 2 parts to this gadget – the plunger to froth the milk and the cup to hold the milk. Problem is, the plunger doesn’t come apart – so thorough cleaning isn’t really an option — unless you put in in the dishwasher — which could ruin the finish.
- You’re churning butter: Well, not really, but that’s what it feels like. It can get messy and seems to work better when the cup is fuller — which is great for results, but, can be too much for an individual cup of java.
Here’s a YouTube video that I found helpful in how to use the manual milk frother. This isn’t the same model that I have, but it is a double-mesh plunger – so the results can be similar.
Overall, I’d say it’s worth it, especially when you find the volume and consistency that works best for you. I, however, would prefer an electric model. While I’m all about zen and the process of making coffee — for this task, I’d rather have something that gets the job done quickly and efficiently. I’m keeping mine because it was only $11.00 USD, however next time I think I’ll try something like this combo milk frother that both heats and froths your milk at the same time.
So, tell me…
Do you use a milk frother at home? If so, do you prefer manual or electric (or even an actual steamer!)? Have you ever used a milk frother for a perfect cup of tea? Let me know in the comments below.
As always, Stay Classy!
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