We Brew Coffee

The Art of Milk: Steaming vs Frothing in Espresso Beverages

Milk in Espresso Beverages: The Ultimate Guide to Steamed and Frothed

If you ever find yourself in the mood for a latte, cappuccino, or any espresso beverage, then you surely know that milk plays a central role in its flavor and texture. Whether it’s the thick velvety foam of a cappuccino or the creamy texture of a latte, the way milk is prepared can make or break the overall taste experience.

In this article, we will explore everything there is to know about steaming and frothing milk, including the differences between the two, and the techniques for preparing both steamed and frothed milk to perfection. So sit back, relax, and let’s delve into the world of milk in espresso beverages.

Difference between Steamed and Frothed Milk

Before we dive into the specifics of steaming and frothing milk, let’s understand the difference between the two. Steamed milk is milk that has been steamed to the point of reaching microfoam.

Microfoam is a creamy, velvety, and dense milk texture, which results from heating the milk to the optimal temperature of around 150F. That temperature is high enough to dissolve proteins in the milk, making it creamy.

Yet, it is not too hot to avoid the milk from being burnt or scalded. On the other hand, frothed milk has a much lighter and airy consistency.

It consists of milk with a thick layer of foam sitting on top. The foam is created by introducing air into the milk.

The aeration process into the milk creates larger bubbles in the foam than those created during steaming, and the result is a thinner, lighter consistency.

Making Frothed Milk

There are different methods for frothing milk, but all of them involve introducing air into the milk. The most popular way to froth milk is by using an electric milk frother.

You fill the frother with cold milk, switch it on, and wait for it to work its magic. After a few seconds, the frother will heat the milk and create thick, airy foam that sits atop the liquid milk.

Another method is by using a handheld milk frother. You heat the milk first either on the stove or in the microwave, then immerse the frother into the milk while it is still hot.

Turn on the frother, and you will end up with foam on top of the milk.

Making Steamed Milk

Steamed milk is made by heating the milk with a steam wand, which is a thin tube that shoots steam into the milk, gradually increasing its temperature until it reaches microfoam. To steam milk, start by wiping the steam wand to remove any residual milk.

Then, place the wand just below the surface of cold milk in a pitcher, and turn on the steam. Keeping the wand in the same position, gradually lower the pitcher so the wand dips further into the milk, and froths it while increasing the temperature.

Stop steaming once you have reached the desired microfoam texture and temperature.

Frothed Milk Texture and Uses

Frothed milk has a light, airy consistency, making it perfect for adding a touch of complexity to your espresso beverages. The foam’s creaminess and light texture will mix with the espresso, creating a unique textural experience in each sip.

There are different uses of frothed milk, one of them is in cappuccinos. A cappuccino is a three-part drink that typically consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk on top.

By adding froth to the drink, the experience is given extra texture. Another use of frothed milk is in iced cappuccinos.

The froth sits on top of the drink, adding both a striking visual contrast between the coffee and milk, and cream when it mixes with the cold espresso.

How to Froth Milk

Frothing milk at home by hand is a valid method to craft caf-style beverages. First, heat the milk in a container on the stove or microwave.

Then, you can use a handheld milk frother. This device is like a small whisk that introduces air into the milk, creating beautiful froth.

To create thick, velvety froth, start with a few millimeters of milk in a container and move the frother up and down for a few minutes while arcing the frother across the container’s surface.

How to Steam Milk

To steam milk, start by filling a milk pitcher with cold milk. A good amount to start with is around one-third of a cup.

Then, ensure that the steam wand has been purged and wipe before immersing the wand below the surface of the milk. A proper steaming technique involves steadily increasing the steam and gradually bringing the wand down to the milk’s bottom then stop steaming once the milk reaches around 150F.


In conclusion, milk is an integral component of the espresso beverage. The different textures created by steaming and frothing can bring complex tastes and textures to your espresso drinks.

The essential factor to note is the temperature change steamed milk will reach a higher temperature than frothed milk. Hopefully, when you’re next at your local cafe or brewing up at home, you’ll have the understanding and confidence to decide between frothed or steamed milk to complement your espresso.

Steamed Milk: The Secret to Creating Creamy and Smooth Espresso Beverages

When it comes to espresso-based drinks, milk plays a crucial role in providing the perfect balance of creaminess and sweetness. Steamed milk is a fundamental ingredient in various espresso-based beverages, including lattes, mochas, and hot chocolate.

The process of steaming milk creates a velvety microfoam that significantly enhances the taste and texture of the drink. In this article, we will delve deeper into steamed milk, including its purpose, texture, uses, and how to make it to perfection.

Purpose and Texture of Steamed Milk

Steamed milk adds a creamy, smooth texture to espresso-based beverages, making them enjoyable to drink. This texture results from the introduction of tiny, velvety bubbles or microfoam into the milk.

To make steamed milk, it must be heated to around 150F, which is the sweet spot where proteins found in the milk dissolved, creating the microfoam. This texture creates a silky, creamy drink that is pleasant on the palette.

Uses of Steamed Milk

Steamed milk is a vital component in various espresso-based drinks, including lattes, mochas, and hot chocolate. Espresso drinks such as lattes consist of one shot of espresso combined with steamed milk, and this creates the creamy, silky texture that espresso lovers crave.

Mochas have a similar recipe but with the addition of chocolate syrup creating a chocolate flavored espresso drink with chocolate flavored permeating through the steamed milk in every sip. Hot chocolate is another beverage that steamed milk is used for, creating that velvety texture in every sip.

Latte art is another benefit of using steamed milk. Baristas can create intricate designs on top of the latte, from hearts, swirls, rosettas, and other patterns, making the espresso drink a visual delight.

How to Make Steamed Milk

Making steamed milk for an espresso-based drink does not require any sophisticated equipment. All you need is a milk steam wand and an understanding of the right temperature and technique.

Begin by pouring the milk into a stainless-steel pitcher and then place the steam wand a couple of millimeters beneath the milk’s surface, making sure steam doesn’t escape from the pitcher. Once you switch on the steam wand, it will introduce heat and air into the milk while keeping the milk in a circular motion by angling your hand and moving the milk in a circular motion in the pitcher.

Moreover, the milk pitcher must be angled correctly and should maintain a constant foam ratio. Frothed Milk vs.

Steamed Milk

While steamed milk has a creamy, velvety texture, frothed milk has a light and airy substance. The principle difference between the two results from the volume of air introduced into the milk.

When steaming milk, there is a small, delicate aeration process, resulting in microfoam. Frothing milk, on the other hand, produces large frothy bubbles, introducing larger volumes of air into the milk with a light and airy composition, creating a lighter, creamier texture.

Frothed milk is primarily used in cappuccinos where the froth to milk ratio is one to three, whereas steamed milk is used in lattes that require a milk to espresso ratio of one to three.

Widely Used Milk in Espresso Beverages

Espresso drinks are typically served hot, but with the introduction of iced espresso drinks, milk is used to create a multi-textured and complex drink. Iced coffee drinks like iced cappuccinos and iced lattes also require steamed milk.

Iced cappuccinos require steamed milk instead of milk foam, similar to that used in hot cappuccinos. Iced lattes, on the other hand, require cold milk, but the technique is the same as used for steamed milk.


In conclusion, both frothed and steamed milk play important roles in creating exquisite espresso-based beverages. The choice to use frothed or steamed milk largely depends on the espresso drink you want to create.

Steamed milk provides a smooth and velvety texture resulting from introducing delicate aeration into the milk, while frothed milk produces light, airy foam bubbles that create a creamy texture in your espresso-based drink. Knowing how to make steamed and frothed milk to perfection can greatly improve your coffee making skills, elevate your espresso drinks, and increase your enjoyment.

Summary of the Differences between Steamed and Frothed Milk

Milk is a critical component of espresso-based beverages, which are a staple in modern-day coffee culture. Creating the perfect coffee drink depends on the type of milk used, and the way it is prepared.

Two primary methods for preparing milk for espresso drinks are steaming and frothing, both of which deliver unique textures and flavors to the final beverage.

Steaming milk involves heating the milk to around 150F while introducing delicate aeration into the milk, resulting in a creamy, velvety texture known as microfoam.

This technique is ideal for lattes, cappuccinos, and other drinks that require a smooth, creamy texture in combination with espresso. Frothing milk, on the other hand, involves introducing air into the milk, leading to the creation of light, airy foam with a thin and creamy texture.

Frothed milk is ideal for espresso drinks like cappuccinos, where the beverage comprises a higher ratio of foam to milk. While the differences between steamed milk and frothed milk may seem minimal, understanding these differences and knowing when to use each type of milk can have a significant effect on the final product’s quality.

The texture of frothed milk is light, with a thinner consistency created by the introduction of air into the milk. It is ideal for creating a unique texture in your espresso-based drink.

For frothed milk, the foam layer on top of the milk is thicker, which creates a striking visual contrast between the coffee and milk. It is best suited for drinks with a higher ratio of foam to milk, such as cappuccinos.

Steamed milk, on the other hand, is more popular due to its creamy, smooth, and velvety texture. Steamed milk has a thick, creamy texture that works well when blended with espresso, making it the perfect complement to lattes, mochas, and hot chocolate.

Overall, the choice between steamed and frothed milk mostly depends on your preference and the espresso drink you want to create. Steamed milk works well with coffee beverages that require a creamy texture, while frothed milk is better suited for drinks that require a light and airy foam texture.

No matter your preference, the right preparation of milk can enhance the taste, texture, and visual appeal of the final espresso-based drink.

The process of making great espresso drinks is an art form that takes time, effort, and skill to perfect.

The consistency and quality of the final product depend on the type of milk used, the recipe, and the technique employed. Steamed and frothed milk both play important roles in creating the perfect espresso-based drinks.

By understanding the differences between the two and knowing which type of milk works best in different scenarios, you can take your espresso-making skills to the next level and create the perfect beverage every time. In conclusion, understanding the differences between steamed and frothed milk is crucial for creating the perfect espresso-based beverages.

Steamed milk brings a creamy, velvety texture that enhances lattes, mochas, and hot chocolates, while frothed milk adds a light and airy foam ideal for cappuccinos. The choice between the two depends on personal preference and the desired texture for the drink.

By mastering the techniques and knowing when to use each type of milk, you can elevate your espresso-making skills and create truly exceptional beverages. So, next time you’re craving that perfect cup of coffee, remember the importance of milk preparation for a truly memorable and enjoyable experience.

Popular Posts