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Keen to know the difference between steamed milk vs foamed milk vs frothed milk? If you’re like most people, you use the terms interchangeably. But they are not the same.
Here are the differences between steamed milk, foamed milk and frother milk:
|CHARACTERISTIC||STEAMED MILK||FOAMED MILK||FROTHED MILK|
|Ideal Temperature||65ᵒC (149F)-70ᵒC (158F)||60ᵒC (140F) -65ᵒC (149F)||65ᵒC (149F)-68ᵒC (154F)|
|Milk Used||Cold/chilled||Cold/chilled||Cold or hot|
|Equipment Used||Steamed milk wand, Electric milk steamer||Handheld electric frother, Steam wand, Milk frother||Jar, Whisk, Milk frother|
|Texture||Tiny bubbles, smooth, silk and velvety micro foam||Smaller bubbles, smooth and creamy micro foam||Larger bubbles, voluminous and rich macro foam|
|Uses||Lattes, Cappuccino, Macchiato||Cappuccino, Macchiato||Foam-filled drinks like dry cappuccino|
Let’s dive right in.
As the name suggests, this milk is made using the steaming process. The process makes the milk a little aerated to create very small air bubbles also known as micro foam.
The process used to make foamed milk is a lot like the steaming process. The only difference is foamed milk must be more aerated to form slightly larger bubbles.
Frothed milk is also made using a process called aeration. During this process, air bubbles are added to the milk to make froth. The purpose of the entire process is to give the milk that rich creamy airy texture we love so much.
One thing is for certain: all three types of milk make a delicious tasting cup of coffee. But taste aside, other key similarities between steamed, frothed and foamed milk are as best described according to the following characteristics.
Foamed, frothed and steamed milk are all made using the aeration process. This is basically the process whereby air is introduced into the milk to create foam. However, it’s the degree of aeration that impacts the texture of the final product as I’ll explain a little later.
Another similarity between the three types of milk is the temperature of milk used. For best results, chilled or cold milk is used to make all three types of milk. Milk is generally at its sweetest between 55ᵒC (131F) and 66ᵒC (151F). And the hotter it becomes, the more it loses its sweetness. Also, milk takes in air better when it’s colder.
With that said when it comes to foamed milk, cold milk will encourage more foaming action to get the desired milk consistency. And the best temperature for foaming milk is usually between 60ᵒC (140F) and 65ᵒC (149F).
For steamed milk, cold milk is also used to prevent the milk from heating up too quickly which can interfere with the process and final result. How? Steam is basically water. So, if excessive heat is generated, it automatically means too much water is produced. And too much water makes the milk less creamy. Also, too much heat strips the nutrients and ruins the milk’s taste and smell. Ideally the temperatures for steaming milk should be between 65ᵒC (149F) and 70ᵒC (158F).
For frothed milk, temperatures should be between 65ᵒC (149F) and 68ᵒC (154F). In fact, basic frothing doesn’t require any heat at all. However, you do have the option to use warm milk if you want. Simply heat the milk separately when preparing your hot drinks. Make sure it’s not too hot otherwise the milk might splash or burn during frothing.
You might want to use a frothing thermometer to gauge the correct temperature, eliminate guesswork and avoid scalding your milk. And you especially don’t want the latter. Why? Scalding not only kills beneficial bacteria in milk, but also inactivates enzymes which causes curdling.
The differences between these three types of milk are best explained by highlighting the following characteristics.
To get your desired type of milk, you must use the correct equipment for the job. To make steamed milk you use a steamed milk wand or electric milk steamer. Many espresso machines come with it.
To make frothed milk you use a jar or whisk. Or, you could purchase yourself a milk frother which is specifically designed for the task. To make foamed milk you use either a handheld electric frother, steam wand or milk frother which can be manual or electric. We suggest the Miroco Frother that can make steamed, frothed and and foamed milk – you can conveniently check it out from Amazon clicking this link.
As mentioned, the intensity of the aeration process affects the final texture. Steamed milk requires slight or delicate aeration compared to the other types of milk. The end result is characterized by small amounts of numerous bubbles that can’t be seen. But you’ll certainly feel them on your palate when you sip on the heavenly taste! It follows steamed milk has less volume compared to both frothed and foamed milk. The texture is more silky-like micro foam.
The aeration process when making frothed milk is more intense. As such, the milk has significant amounts of foam comprising of larger, stiffer bubbles called macro foam and more volume.
Much like frothed milk, foamed milk also requires a large degree of aeration. But while foamed milk also has dense bubbles, they aren’t as intense as those found in frothed milk. The foam is much smoother compared to that of frothed milk.
And now, to make your delicious-tasting beverages! After preparing the different types of milk, which beverages go well with them? Because of the velvety micro foam found in steamed milk, it’s commonly used in creamy and smooth drinks like lattes as well as to make the famous latte art.
The medium froth and slightly larger foam that makes up foamed milk makes it ideal for traditional cappuccinos.
The larger macro foam found in frothed milk makes it perfect to use in foam-filled and other hot beverages such as dry cappuccinos and macchiatos. But you can also use frothed milk in both hot and cold drinks.
However, sometimes you don’t have to pick and choose which drink to make because you can use all three types of milk in one beverage! Here are few examples of the drinks you can make with your milk and ratios involved:
Steamed milk produces a lasting and rich creamy flavor. And the general logic is the creamier the milk is, the richer it’s in nutrients.
Also, steaming generally makes milk much sweeter. This is because the steaming process breaks down the lactose (milk sugar) and caramelizes it mildly making the milk sweet. It’s safe to say steamed milk tastes much better than frothed and foamed milk. However, this is entirely a matter of individual taste depending on your palate.
Foamed milk also makes your drink taste delicious and allows you to create those beautiful designs on top of the drink. Unfortunately, you can’t create them with steamed milk.
Frothed milk also makes your beverage taste better than using regular milk. Plus, it insulates your drink making it warmer for longer. Frothed milk also allows you to create the attractive art commonly found in lattes or cappuccinos.
Do you prefer your coffee rich and creamy? You’ll love steamed milk. Since it’s generally heavier in texture, it makes it ideal for people who love the taste of milk in their coffee more than they do foam. Plus, it gives your beverage that velvety texture most coffee lovers crave.
People who love foam-filled drinks should get foamed milk. The foam produced will significantly improve both the quality and taste of your drink.
If you’re torn between hot and cold beverages, you should opt for frothed milk. This is because the versatility of frothed milk allows you to make both hot and cold drinks and they’ll taste equally delicious. The same can’t be said about foamed or steamed milk which are ideally suited for making hot drinks.