Espresso machines are obviously the easiest way to bring the barista experience into your kitchen. The problem with these machines is that they can be quite bulky and very expensive.
If you love coffee shop style coffee but don’t want to splash out on an espresso machine, then this is the article for you. We’re going to tell you how to get frothed milk with your trusty French press, some differences between steamed and frothed milk, and some examples of how to use it.
Let’s start with the basics – frothing milk at home is not the same as the milk you get in a coffee shop; as this is steamed milk which requires a full-on espresso machine. What we’re talking about is replicating a similar experience with frothy milk.
By steaming milk a baristas is able to create very fine and precise foam that’s great for making latte art. Learning to control this process is very difficult and takes weeks of daily practice. Frothing milk is less precise but is more accessible – rather than needing an expensive machine frothing is more about using simple tools available at home to froth the milk such as a French press or even a blender. The end result is not as smooth as steamed but it is tasty, it’s really easy and it’s a great way to enhance a basic home coffee.
‘Frothing’ works better with hot milk, as the protein molecules unfold and trap air as they cool down and curl back up. Having said that frothing cold milk will work if you want to use it for iced drinks but it won’t be as creamy.
You’ll also get a better froth by using whole milk as there are more proteins and fats in the milk increasing the creaminess of the foam.
- Heat your milk.
You can either heat your milk in a saucepan or use a microwave. If using a saucepan bring the milk to a simmer and stir occasionally to prevent a thin layer from forming on the top. Turn the heat off once you see steam coming from the milk. If using a microwave then start with 30 seconds, stir, then heat again in 15 seconds increments until the milk starts to steam.
- Pour into a French press.
You can use any French press but the smaller ones work better as you can get greater movement. Fill no more than a third of the container.
- Start pumping.
Keep the plunger towards the top and pump 20 – 30 times. Then put the plunger towards the bottom and pump a further 40 – 50 times.
What drinks can you make
There are loads of different drinks or ‘style’ of drinks you can make and the best thing to do is just experiment and see what you can come up with. If you want a bit of guidance to get going, then here’s 3 ideas for you:
- Latte — this is simply French for “coffee with milk” – which specifically means coffee with hot milk added. Different from white coffee; which is coffee with cold milk. Traditionally made with an espresso base and hot water this can be replicated with a cafetiere. So simple – just make a great cafetiere (brewing guide available HERE) – and then pour the warm creamy frothy milk on top for a ‘Latte’ style experience.
- Cappuccino — Moka-pots make excellent concentrated, espresso-style coffee and you can use your frothed milk to make an awesome cappuccino style drink. Create your stovetop espresso and then using a spoon take a big dollop of the foam from the top of your cafetiere and plop it on top; simple and super tasty.
- Iced Drinks — Top your cold brew coffee with a small bit of cold-frothed milk to give it a foamy finish. An excellent and easy way to create a smoother flavour and creamier body.
While frothing isn’t quite as precise or refined as steaming, it’s an effective and simple way to give yourself the pleasures of foamy milk at home without breaking the bank. And, if you’re starting out with specialty-grade, freshly roasted beans, you’ll find that the milk can enhance each coffee a little differently.