How to Steam Milk? Frothed vs Steamed Milk

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How to Steam Milk

You’ve decided to make your coffee at home, and I love that about you! Who needs coffee-shop style drinks when you can make them right in your own kitchen? Show everyone you are a master barista!

Whether you are planning on making espresso, a latte, a cappuccino, or any of the other delicious coffee drinks you need to wrap your head around steaming milk and milk froth. No problem, I have just what you need.

First, I’ll show you have to steam milk using your espresso machine. If you don’t own one of those, I’ll show you some alternative methods of steaming milk.

To round off your degree in barista magic let’s make sure we cover the difference between steamed milk and milk froth, and which one goes with which coffee.

How to Steam Milk Using Espresso Machines?

Most espresso machines come with a milk steamer called a steam wand. Here are step-by-step instructions with illustrations on how to steam milk the right way.

 1.Begin by clearing any residue water out of the steam wand. Hold a small cloth or towel to catch the water.

Espresso Milk

2.Fill the pitcher 1/3 of the way and place it under the wand. The head of the stem should be just above the milk.


3.Hold the pitcher slightly tilted and turn the wand on. 

Milk Steaming

4.Let the air out of the stem for half a second and submerge the tip into the milk.

Tilt Pitcher to the side

5.Hold the tip of the stem just below the surface of the milk. Almost done.

Milk Steaming

6.Set the pitcher aside, clean the stem off with a towel or a cloth.

Milk Steaming

7.Swirl the milk inside the cup. 

milk steaming

8.Pour the steamed milk into your coffee. 


Viola! You are ready to start making café shop quality coffee drinks at home.

I understand that not everyone has an espresso machine at home and that is completely fine. You can still enjoy the delicious milk foam topping with a little extra effort. There are a few ways to steam milk for your coffee, for example, you can just buy a simple manual milk frother. They are usually quite affordable.

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  • Heats up to 8 Oz of milk
  • Non-stick coating
  • Fully automated
  • Stainless steel
  • Handheld
  • Easy to clean
  • Runs on battery
  • Variety of colors

Even though these fancy gadgets have made our lives more comfortable people were steaming milk way before we had any of these luxuries. There are several different ways to steam milk manually at home without a steam wand or a manual frother.

Using A French Press

Quite simply, heat up your milk. Don’t boil it but make sure it’s warm enough to be frothed. Then pour it into your French press and use the plunger to froth. After a few seconds, you will see the milk start to become a thicker cream.

Using A Manual Whisk

Pour your decided amount of milk into a saucepan and heat it on a stovetop. As the milk begins to heat, whisk the milk into a cream.

Using A Microwave

If you have a glass jar with a lid you can pour 1/3 cup into the jar, seal it with a lid, and shake the milk for a few seconds. Place the milk into a microwave for no longer than 15 seconds and you will have some milk foam ready to add to coffee.

Steamed Milk or Frothed Milk Foam?

The devil is in the detail, right? To make the ideal cup of coffee at home you need to know if your drink needs a small layer of eye-catching steamed milk or a thick layer of juicy milk froth. Before we get into which coffee is suited for which milk topping let’s make sure you understand the difference.

Milk froth has large bubbles which it the appearance of a thicker cream. It usually scooped on top of your coffee drink.

Steamed milk is microfoam because the bubbles are so tiny and velvety smooth. Steamed milk is used for latte art because it mixed with coffee so easily.

Good To Know

For best results make sure you’re using cold milk. If you are using an espresso steam wand, place your pitcher in the fridge for a few minutes before you steam your milk. This way the foam won’t stick to the sides of the pitcher when you pour it into your mug.

The standard milk used for steaming has been 2%. The fatty milk gives the foam a thicker texture and a sweeter taste.

Wrapping Up

No one can tell you which foam or froth to add to your favorite cup of joe but the espresso family has their own ways of doing things. This should give an idea of where the milk belongs.

Try Your Hand At Espresso

Espresso is a staple in the coffee community for a reason. As you can see some of the most recognizable coffee drinks have an espresso base. No surprise most coffee enthusiasts have an espresso machine at home.

If you do, get brewing and make yourself or your company a beautiful latte or a mouth-watering mocha. In case you don’t already have the equipment I put together a list of the best-reviewed espresso machines that already come with a steam wand.

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  • Easy 1 button interface
  • Automatic milk frother
  • Single or double shots
  • Easy to clean
  • Integrated burr coffee grinder
  • Hands-free operation
  • Fully adjustable
  • Auto adjusts water temperature
  • 45-second heating
  • Low noise
  • Dual temperature control system
  • Stainless steel

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