Differences between Foamed Milk and Steamed Milk

Steamed and foamed or frothed milk is used in coffee beverages to improve the quality and taste of your coffee drink. The items that are needed to produce steamed and frothed milk is the same to a certain extent but the procedures are different. Frothed and steamed milk are used in different types of coffee and milk based beverages.

Steamed milk is much heavier than frothed milk because it does not have as much froth and less air. Less milk is required when you are frothing. The volume of the milk in the pitcher is normally three or four times the amount that you started out with when frothing.

You can see the more detailed guide on steaming/frothing milk here.

Preparing Steamed Milk

Heston Barista Express Bean-to-Cup milkThere are four ways in which you can steam milk for your coffee beverages. You can either steam milk on the stove, in the microwave, in automatic electric milk frother or by using the steam wand on an espresso machine. The steam wand will give the best results when steaming milk, but if you decide to use this method you have to own or purchase an espresso machine.

You should always use cold milk when steaming, to prevent the milk from getting too hot too soon and therefore give better results. It should take you anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute to steam milk, this depends which procedures taken to produce the milk.

Tips for Steaming Milk

  • Having an espresso thermometer on hand when steaming milk can help you to get the best from your steamed milk.
  • Between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit the milk will be full of lactose giving it a sweet, delicious taste. When the milk temperature gets to or passes 160 degrees Fahrenheit mark, it will quickly begin to lose this sweetness and delicious taste.
  • If you are planning to steam milk to between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you should stop steaming when the temperature of the milk reaches between 135 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the milk will continue to rise for a little when steaming milk.
  • When using an espresso machine to steam milk, you should tilt the pitcher slightly and hold it steadily to allow the milk to roll. This will allow the milk and foam to mix together to achieve smoothness.

Preparing Frothed Milk

milkfrother2015The process of frothing milk is similar to that of steaming milk with one exception, the milk has to be more aerated.

You may choose to either manually froth milk with a handheld electric frother, manual frother or with a steam wand or you can chose to automatically froth milk with an automatic electric milk frother.

At the end of frothing, the milk should have a nice even texture. The steam wand and automatic electric frothers will produce better results when frothing milk for your beverages.

To froth milk with the steam wand the tip of the wand has to be positioned near the surface of the milk to continuously add air to the milk as it expands (this process is known as stretching the milk).

As the milk expands, the pitcher has to be lowered so the tip of the wand remains just below the surface of the milk, you may have difficulty accomplishing this step if you are new to frothing milk with the steam wand.

Tips for Frothing Milk

  • Always start the frothing process with cold or chilled milk. Colder milk will give better results and more foam.
  • You should also consider the type of milk that you are going to use. Non-fat and skimmed milk froth very easily, but not as flavorful as other milk types. Whole milk produces great tasting froth, but whole milk is much heavier due to fat in milk and harder to achieve perfect froth. 2% milk froths nicely and has great flavor.
  • The ideal temperature for frothed milk is 140 -155 degrees Fahrenheit. Place thermometer inside milk when frothing and pay close attention to the temperature of milk.
  • When using the steam wand to steam or froth milk, you must always purge the wand before preparing the milk.

Coffee Beverages that use Foamed Milk and Steamed Milk

Cappuccino

A traditional cappuccino drink is a combination of 1/3 milk, 1/3 espresso and 1/3 foam. These are the four most popular types of cappuccino drinks you can order from a coffee shop or make in your home.

These are:
Wet Cappuccino drink – a shot of espresso with creamy hot milk and no foam.
Dry Cappuccino – a shot of espresso with more foam and little milk.
Bone Dry Cappuccino – a shot of espresso with no milk and all foam.
Regular Cappuccino – is a traditional cappuccino with the combination of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam.

mc-3Caffe Latte or Latte

A latte is made from espresso, steamed milk and a small amount of froth. The drink comprises of 1/3 espresso, 2/3 steamed milk and approximately 1 cm of froth. The froth on the top of latte can be used to create latte art.

Cafe Au Lait

Cafe Au Lait is similar to the Caffe Latte but it is considered to be weaker. This French coffee drink that is made with double strength brewed coffee and steamed milk. The drink is ½ coffee and ½ steamed milk.

Caffe Mocha or Mochaccino

Caffe Mocha or Mochaccino is a latte or a cappuccino drink with the addition of sweet cocoa powder or chocolate syrup.

Flat White

The Flat White is a bit similar to the Caffe Latte the only difference is the ratio of espresso and milk. The coffee drink is made from a combination of two shots espresso and consistently heated, micro-foamed milk. The beverage is then served in a preheated 160 ml ceramic tulip cup.

Summary

The main difference between frothed and steamed milk is the amount of air injected into the milk when it is being produced. The frothed and steamed milk is used with different coffee beverages to enhance their taste.

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