Steamed Vs Frothed Milk - The Complete Comparison! (1)

Steamed Vs Frothed Milk – The Complete Comparison!

Last updated on October 26th, 2023 at 13:47

Many coffee lovers like to compare steamed Vs frothed milk and which they want and would like in their coffee beverage. Both steamed milk and frothed milk play a large influencing role in how the coffee will taste and their texture.

Many coffee drinks are determined by which of these two types of milk they use – a latte is not a latte without steamed milk and cappuccino needs that frothed milk topping!

Keep reading for the full details about steamed milk vs frothed milk.

Steamed Vs Frothed Milk – An Overview

Steamed milk is different in many ways from frothed milk. When you think of steamed milk, think of the silky rich velvety rich texture of the milk in a latte. When you think of frothed milk, think of the fluffy, bubbly milk used to make a cappuccino or latte macchiato.

Steamed milk is more liquid and always hot. Frothed milk is thicker, and creates a light and airy mouthfeel.

Steaming milk produces tiny air bubbles, creating a slightly heavier feel and a velvety smooth texture. Frothing milk, or foamed milk as it is known, has much larger bubbles and produces a lighter, fun, airy and bubbly mouthfeel.

In the Steamed Vs Frothed milk one is not necessarily better than the other as it is a matter of using the right milk for the right drink.

A cappuccino, for example, without frothed milk is not a cappuccino and latte without steamed milk is not a latte. Both contribute to the overall taste and experience of the beverage.

As a worth note, and to emphasize the point, a cappuccino actually used both steamed and foamed milk as the coffee base is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk. It’s then topped with frothed milk.

Steamed Vs Frothed Milk
Steamed Vs Frothed Milk

Read: How to make steamed milk for latte

What Is Steamed Milk Called?

Steamed milk is simply called steamed milk. It only has one name which is very different to frothed milk which is also called foamed milk, foamy milk, milk foam, milk froth or simply just froth.

Steamed milk is made in a different way and with less air forced into the milk than frothed milk and has only a small amount of foam, enough to make latte art.

It’s made when a jet of steam is forced under pressure into your milk and heats the milk. To make it, you can only do so with the steam wand that is attached to your espresso machine. As it is made the fats breakdown and expand and form microbubbles around the air that is forced into your milk.

The more fat your milk has, the better the quality of the steamed milk. The result of the process is silky, smooth, rich and sweet tasting milk.

Is Steamed Milk Just Hot Milk?

No, hot milk is simply milk that has been heated using any number of methods including the stovetop and your microwave. Simply heating your milk does not cause any kind of aeration or improvement of the texture or consistency of your milk, which is what is achieved when steaming your milk.

Further techniques are used such as spinning and turning your milk frother into the milk while steaming and polishing it for a beautiful shiny look. The texture and thickness changes slightly, creating a richer and creamier milk when properly steamed. You’ll also notice that it tastes slightly sweeter without the addition of any sugar.

What Is Frothed Milk
Frothed Milk

Read: Designs made with steamed milk

Is Steamed Milk For Lattes Or Cappuccinos

Steamed milk is the milk that you use predominantly in lattes, flat whites, and cortados. café au lait, café misto, mochas and hot chocolates and more.

A cappuccino has both steamed milk and frothed milk. The fluffy milk you see on top is frothed milk, but as I explained earlier the coffee base is an equal mix of espresso and steamed milk.

How To Steam Milk For Latte

To steam milk for a latte you will need an espresso machine with a steam wand, a metal milk jug and cold fresh whole milk. A thermometer or color-changing temperature tag to monitor temperature.

Start by filling your milk pitcher jug to no more than an inch below where the spout starts. Clean your milk wand by giving it a good wipe clean and purge the wand also. It is important to purge the want to prevent droplets of old and cold water from getting into your milk.

Insert the tip of your steam wand into your milk pitcher to half an inch below the surface, and tilt your jug towards you and steam for 5 to 10 seconds. Lower the jug slightly as the milk expands (stretches).

Stretch your milk by 20% to 25% in volume for a flat white, and 30% to 35% for a latte and from 30% to 50% for a cappuccino and at least 50% for a macchiato.

When you have stretched the milk, submerge the nozzle further and tilt your jug. You should see a whirlpool forming. The whirlpool/vortex will spin the foam into your milk, which creates the rich velvety microfoam, that amazing texture.

Now hold the tip still while your milk is spinning until it reaches 140F (60C). You can judge the texture by using a color-changing temperature tag or a thermometer.

With experience, you’ll know by feeling and by sight when your milk is at the perfect temperature. When your milk jug is too hot to hold for more than 3 seconds is a good indication.

At this point, stop steaming and tap the side of your milk pitcher and bang it on the counter. Banging your milk jug is not for fun or for show. It helps to release any trapped air bubbles.

Let your milk rest for 10 to 15 seconds and then polish your milk by swirling it. Swirl it in the same way that you would swirl a glass of red wine.

At this point your milk should be shiny, glossy like a can of freshly opened white paint.

Pour steadily into your coffee and enjoy.

What Is Frothed Milk

Frothed milk is milk that is more aerated than steamed milk with the purpose of creating a light, fluffy and foamy texture. It’s the fluffy foam that you see on top of a cappuccino. It’s much stronger and holds better than the microfoam you see on steamed milk.

When made perfectly, the bubbles are of an even and consistent size and shape.

How long your frothed milk holds depends on the type of milk used and the method of creating it. The stability depends on the fat content while the proteins content provides the structure. As it is with steamed milk, whole fat milk is best.

Is Steamed Milk Just Hot Milk
Frothed Milk

Read: Steamed milk

Coffee Drinks With Frothed Milk

There are many coffee drinks that use frothed milk with the most famous of them all being a cappuccino and a latte macchiato.

It is also common for a dollop of frothed milk, with one the froth used, to be added to an espresso macchiato after the teaspoon of steamed milk has been added.

What Is The Difference Between Steamed Milk And Frothed Milk?

Steamed milk and frothed milk are very different as steamed milk is always hot. Always! While frothed milk is not always hot.

Steamed milk is more liquid, watery and has a creamy velvet-like texture. It coats your tongue and creates a great texture and body to your coffee.

Frothed milk is created by steaming or by using a milk frother, hand pump milk frother or a French press and other methods. The foam created is thicker, stronger and larger and holds its form better than the microfoam created by steamed milk.

The result is an airy and light texture and a fun and bubbly feeling in your mouth and tongue. Due to the high ratio of foam to milk and the very nature of the foam, there is a drier feeling.

Frequently Asked Questions About Steamed Vs Frothed Milk

Is Steamed Milk And Frothed Milk The Same?

A cappuccino and a latte macchiato are the two most popular coffee drinks that visibly have frothed milk. Frothed milk is the fluffy pillow-like layer of bubbly milk that you see on the top of these two drinks. Steamed milk is the liquid-heated milk that gets poured into a latte, a flat white and many other drinks.

They are different.

Frothed milk has larger air bubbles and a larger volume, and creates a lighter and dryer feeling on your tongue.

Steamed milk, which required a steam wand to properly make it, while frothed milk you can make with a steam wand, a manual handheld whisk, an electric whisk, a mason jar, a handheld blender, a French press, a hand pump manual milk frother.

Steamed milk has a richer, silkier texture, that is sweeter by all means, and it can be replicated without a milk steaming wand, but truly it is not steamed milk without the injection of a jet of steamed water and air under pressure. Structurally, microwaving and heating milk using a saucepan is different from steamed milk and thus is not truly steamed milk. The texture is not the same; it’s notably different.

A steaming wand is streets ahead of a milk frother or any other way of frothing and steaming milk. It is how you get high quality steamed milk and frothed milk that is of the same quality as what you get from a coffee shop, which is the ultimate goal.

No, frothing or steaming milk does not make it any less healthy for you. To balance this out, it does not make it any healthier either. You can alter the nutritional value of the steamed milk in your coffee by asking for skim milk, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk or soy milk.

Is It Worth Getting A Milk Frother?

Yes, absolutely. If you want to replicate the quality froth that you get from your local coffee shot, then it is more than worth it.

If you have an espresso machine with a steam wand attachment then you will not need a milk frother as you can use that, but you might need to think about how often you are making cold foam and sweet cream for cold brew coffee. You can of course use a hand blender, but a milk frother is more convenient.

What Milk Frother Does Starbucks Use?

Starbucks uses the steaming wand that is part of the espresso machine. For frothed milk, they have their own bladeless blender, the Starbucks Verismo which you can find at Walmart.

Yes, when you steam milk you are using a process called hydrolysis which is the use of water and heat to unbind chemical or compounds. The result of this is a change to the milk sugars that make your milk taste sweeter and thus when added to your coffee makes it sweeter and takes the edge off the coffee’s bitter notes.

It also adds a great texture to your coffee drink.

Final Thoughts – Steamed Vs Frothed Milk

As you have seen in this article, it’s not really a case of steamed vs frothed milk as one is not better than the other. It is a case of knowing what the effect of each has on the coffee drink that you want to enjoy. As I stated, many coffee drinks use both steamed and frothed milk with a cappuccino being the most famous of them all. 

Join our cool coffee community and share with us all your amazing and outstanding latte art coffee creations.

Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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