Frothed vs Steamed Milk: What’s the Difference?

The Best Answer:

There is a big difference between steamed and frothed milk although most wouldn’t guess it. Frothed milk has a lot of foam and a heavy mouthfeel while steamed milk only has a thin layer of microfoam and a velvety texture!

So you’re at a cafe, and the waiter asks if you would like your coffee with steamed or frothed milk. Do you have any idea what they are talking about? It’s okay – many people don’t!

But no need to worry; this is precisely what I’ll be explaining to you in today’s post!

Frothed vs. Steamed Milk: Is There Really A Difference?

Frothed vs Steamed Milk

Oh yes, there is!

Some baristas will even ask which one of these types of milk is preferred as a way to tell whether someone has been ordering the same thing every day for years or if this is their first time in a coffee shop.

You may be thinking that it’s just another example of silly barista-lingo that no average person could understand… but we’ve got news for you: there IS a difference between steamed and frotted milk! And who better to explain it to you than The Coffee Wave!

Frothed or steamed milk characteristics are an essential topic when discussing coffee. The characteristics of the milk will directly influence how much taste and strength there is to your cup of coffee.

Six different factors determine the type of frothy head your drink gets: water temperature, steam pressure, cream content/fat level, agitation technique used by barista, extraction time, and size of bubbles created by ebullition (froth).

Frothed Milk Characteristics

Frothed milk is creamy and has a nice flavor.

It’s used in many coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos and macchiatos.

People enjoy it due to its creamy texture and taste that some find similar to foam or whipped cream.

However, unlike these two products, frothed milk doesn’t contain air bubbles which makes it denser than both of them together at the same time. It also contains fewer calories than regular whole milk because most of this fat has been replaced with steam instead. This way, you get all of its benefits without having to worry about your weight too much!

Coffee Beverages with Frothed Milk

Many coffee beverages worldwide are defined by their thick foamy frothed milk, and without it, they would be something very different! These are:

Now imagine all these coffee beverages without froth! Pointless, right?

How to Froth Milk with a Steam Wand

To understand what makes a good froth, I’m going to walk you through the steps of frothing milk using a steam wand. After that, you’ll need only two things: the milk and a milk pitcher.

Step 1: pour your milk into the pitcher.

Step 2: put the frothed wand about half an inch from the top of the cup and turn on the steam button for 15 seconds or less.

Step 3: wait for another 20 to 30 seconds to remove the froth from tin enough to submerge it under the rest of the liquid, then move the wand back up above the surface. It should make bubbles as you bring it down again into the liquid. If not, repeat the process with more heat and a shorter time on steam function.

Step 4: Keep repeating until your mix reaches desired temperature at 145 degrees F – 160 degrees F depending upon preference.

Steamed Milk Characteristics

The rich taste of steamed milk is pleasing to any coffee drinker. In contracts to frothed milk, it’s lighter but just as creamier, and it’s the basis of many popular coffee beverages. The microfoam layer adds a beautiful texture to your drink, but the process can be intimidating until you get used to it.

How to Steam Milk with a Steam Wand

Much like when frothing milk, you’ll only need cold milk and your pitcher!

Step 1: Warm a milk pitcher or measuring cup with hot water to prevent the milk from sticking.

Step 2: Pour cold, fresh milk into your steaming pitcher and close the lid tightly.

Step 3: Place your steam wand tip just under the surface of the liquid inside your pitcher and begin heating for between 15-25 seconds (or until you see it bubbling).

Step 4: After about 30 seconds, remove the whip from the pitcher and quickly whisk in a circular motion to create a rich microfoam layer that will top off any drink perfectly!

Coffee Beverages with Frothed Milk

Frothed vs Steamed Milk

Now let’s take a look at some popular coffee beverages that contain steamed milk:

The thin layer of microfoam on top of these drinks makes all the difference!

Foam vs. Micro-foam

The differences between coffee foam and microfoam can be subtle, but they do exist. Coffee foam has a frothy texture and is best used for topping off your drink with heavy foam for those who love a creamy and intense milky punch!

Micro-foam, on the other hand (also known as velvety foam), is achieved by steaming and not frothing milk, and it tends to resemble bubbles of milk rather than foam because it’s so fine in texture. In addition, this type of foam is lighter, allowing you to experiment with different drinks like flat whites without ruining your artwork!

Since micro-foam has such a thin consistency, but without being watery, it’s also perfect for latte art!

Frothed vs Steamed Milk: What’s the Difference?

Everything boils down to this moment, the comparison!

Differences InFrothedSteamed
TextureCreamyVelvety
FlavorSweetSweet
MouthfeelHeavyLight
BubblesYesNo
Can be used to make latte artNo Yes
Can be used as a separate topping for other drinksYesNo
Can be made with any type of dairy and non-dairy milkYesYes
Can be made at homeYesYes

As you see, the two of them are not entirely different; they have some things in common, like their sweet and milky flavor and the fact that they can be both whipped up in the comfort of your own home.

However, their differences truly set them apart. Technically you can’t brew a flat white with frothed milk; that’s more like a cappuccino. Nor can you use steamed milk to whip up a macchiato. It’s all in the differences!

Frequently Asked Questions

Frothed vs Steamed Milk

Is steamed milk and frothed milk the same?

No, they are not! Frothed milk has more froth than steamed milk, thus making it foamier and heavier to drink than coffee with steamed milk. However, coffee drinks with frothed milk and coffee drinks with steamed milk and their minor dissimilarities make all the difference!

Is latte milk steamed or frothed?

In most countries around the world, the latte milk is steamed, not frothed. Latte is a drink that usually contains one shot of espresso topped with hot steamed milk and a layer of micro-foam on the top—frothing the milk to make a latte would turn it into a completely different drink, namely a large cappuccino.

Can a frother make steamed milk?

Yes! You can make steamed milk with a frother, but that depends on how you use it. For example, if you are using a hand frother, you have much more control over the whole process because it’s based on hand movement.

To make it less frothy, all you need to do is froth the milk for a few seconds close to the surface of the milk jug and then dip the frother in and let it heat up. This will only create a thin layer of micro-foam.

However, if you are using an electric frother, you have less control, and it might not give you the option for different foam volumes. So keep this in mind when you choose which frother is best for your cup of coffee.

Can non-dairy milk be steamed and frothed?

Yes, you can! Non-dairy milk can be both steamed and frothed, and you can do it at home as well. The only thing you need to be mindful of is that non-dairy milk such as almond, coconut, soy, and oat milk has a different consistency to dairy milk and thus heats up faster. So be careful not to burn it! In general, some non-dairy kinds of milk froth better than others, so you will have to experiment with a few brands before you find which one you prefer.

Last Thoughts

Milk is a necessity for any coffee drinker, but there are two different ways to make it. Frothed milk has been heated and aerated until tiny bubbles form on the surface of the liquid. Steamed milk, however, involves heating up whole or skimmed milk in a steam-heated jug before pouring it into your espresso shot or latte.

So which one should you use? It depends on what type of beverage you’re making! For coffees like cappuccinos and macchiatos, frothed milk will provide you with an extra airy texture that’s perfect when served hot – plus, if you’ve got kids who love bubble tea, then they’ll be happy to see foam on top of their hot chocolate! Milk that’s been steamed, however, is foam-free and perfect for lattes and flat whites!

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