Every great tasting latte has 3 things in common. 3 simple things. One is the perfectly brewed espresso, the other is perfectly steamed milk, and the last, the perfect froth.
Get those 3 right and you will be the go-to barista among your family and friends.
Yet the 3 essentials of the perfect latte seem to intimidate many latte lovers, forcing them to abandon their homemade latte endeavors. let’s take a step back and start this journey from the beginning.
What is a Latte?
The word latte comes from the Italian phrase caffe latte, which means “milk coffee”. In its basic form, a latte is a creamy coffee beverage made of a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and topped off with a layer of frothy milk (also called foam). All in that order. Two-thirds of the beverage is steamed milk, that’s why it is referred to as “milk coffee”.
Lattes are very popular because they have a delicate, well-balanced flavor. They are not too strong, and neither are they bland. If Goldilocks were to sample the wide range of coffee beverages available today, she would probably go for the latte –“it’s just right”.
Getting the texture of the froth is important as it determines the distinctive look of the latte and how it feels in the mouth. It has become the norm for lattes to have a “piece of art” drawn on them using the foamy froth.
So how does one create the perfect steamed milk and froth for the perfect latte?
Milk Frother: An Essential Tool for the Latte Lover
Getting a great cup of latte used to warrant a trip to the nearest (or best) coffee shop in town due to the technical difficulties of making a froth befitting the latte. Not anymore. Now you can make your own latte in your kitchen, a perfect cup for that matter.
How you ask?
Simple. Invest in a good milk frother. An electric one.
I know you probably have a frothing wand somewhere in your kitchen. Throw it away. As far as you can. Don’t get upset with me, here are 3 good reasons why you need to upgrade to an electric milk frother.
- An electric milk frother saves you time and energy (both yours and the electricity). With a handheld milk frother, you have to heat the milk first before frothing it.
- Less work. After heating the milk (which is work on its own), you will have to manually “froth” the milk. With the electric frother, everything is done at the touch of a button.
- An electric frother will give you thick, consistent, silky smooth froth. An electric wand? The exact opposite. The froth is not consistent and is full of air bubbles that subtract from the silky texture and taste.
How Does a Milk Frother Work?
Before we answer that creamy question, we need to understand what froth is. Froth is just a mixture of air and milk. Nothing else. Shocked? You needn’t be. To make froth, air is mixed into the milk, causing it to increase in size and sweetness all the while attaining a silky texture.
This is exactly what milk frothers do.
Whether it’s the hand-held manual frother (the one you refuse to throw away) or the more expensive (but worth every penny) frother, the principle is the same – air mixed into the warm milk.
- Hand-Held Plunger. This aerates the milk by way of a mesh screen attached to a plunger. When the plunger is pumped up and down, air from the mesh aerates the milk.
- Hand-held Motorized Frother. A propeller, or whisk, rotates rapidly, forcing air into the milk.
- Electric Frother. Uses the same principle of propellers rotating quickly to produce the creamy froth your latte depends on.
Milk Steamer VS Milk Frother: The Steamy Truth
The question most often asked by many is, “do I need to buy a steamer AND a frother?” This is where the beauty of an electric frother lies – it does both. An electric frother comes equipped with 2 whisks:
- The first whisk makes steamed milk, only slightly whisked. This is the steamed milk you will pour over your espresso.
- Whisk number 2 makes your froth. By whisking the milk thoroughly, it creates an excellent foam that will make you look like a professional barista.
Whether your favorite coffee beverage is a latte, cappuccino, or any other that requires steamed milk or a frothy topping, you can now do it in the comfort of your home thanks to the various affordable frothing machines available.
As for the Milk…
Which kind of milk makes the best froth, and ultimately the best latte? It all depends on what you value most in the froth.
- Whole milk produces a more flavorful froth but sadly, less foam.
- Skim milk creates are more frothy foam, but less flavorful.
Froth: The Secret to a Perfect Latte
There you have it. The secrets to the perfect froth revealed. Time for another creamy latte.