I was having coffee with a friend today who asked me the difference between a milk frother and steamer.
I didn’t have a simple answer, so I decided to read up on the topic. The main difference between a milk frother and steamer is a frother introduces more air to the milk, while the steamer simultaneously heats and gives it a heavier texture. Using steamed or frothed milk is important for coffee/tea to produce more flavor and boost the quality of the drink.
Steamed milk is often created using a steam wand, which you can find on many espresso machines. The steam wand blasts high pressured steam into a pitcher of cold milk to heat it and create microfoam.
It is important to remember that before you steam your milk, it has to be cold. Using cold milk is important because it ensures the milk does not immediately boil while steaming it.
Mastering how to steam milk takes a lot of practice and you need to make sure you’re heating the milk to the correct temperature.
The optimal temperature for steamed milk is 140°F. If you push it higher, the milk may not be as sweet and can go through denaturation.
Steamed milk is heavier than frothed milk since it keeps most of its liquid consistency.
The easiest way to froth milk is by using a dedicated milk frother. Lucky for you, I’ve gathered a lot of reviews here on my site and even created a list so you can find the best milk frother.
Last update on 2021-07-23 // More Information
It’s also possible to create frothed milk using a steam wand. Achieve this by lowering the tip right onto the surface of the milk.
Similar to steamed milk, you’ll want to ensure you’re starting with cold or chilled milk for frothing to produce more foam.
You only need a small amount of milk to froth since the foam will fill up more space once the process is complete.
It’s worth noting here that not all types of milk can be frothed, but there are alternatives to dairy milk. If you don’t drink dairy, you may be interested in learning about frothing almond milk instead.