In general, I roll my eyes at one-trick-pony kitchen tools. No one needs a dedicated avocado or apple slicer. But sometimes you do, in fact, run into a single-use item that actually does its job in a way nothing else can. And the fact of the matter is, if you want to froth milk for your espresso, or tea, or hot chocolate, you’re going to need a dedicated milk frother. (That is, unless you have a full-on espresso machine that comes with one attached.) Though I prefer my coffee black, I’ve watched my mom froth milk for her morning latte for as long as I can remember, and I have to say, there is something quite luxurious about treating yourself to a real drink at home. To find the best milk frothers out there, I chatted with coffee pros, as well as some folks who regularly use and love the one they have.
What we’re looking for
Steam creation: Frothers don’t inherently heat up milk. Some of them are frothers and steamers, performing both tasks at the same time. Others, though, only create air bubbles, requiring you to heat up your milk first, either on the stove or in the microwave.
Frothing technology: Electric frothers (the ones that usually also produce steam) need to be plugged into an outlet. You push a button and they do their thing for a minute or two, then stop. Battery-operated frothers look like little sticks with a flat whisk on the end that whirs when you hold down a button. These are two types you’ll see most. But one product on this list is a stovetop contraption, and another is completely manual.
Best overall milk frother
Steam creation | Electric
The Chinya is a “really good” milk frother that also steams, according to Suyog Mody and James McCarthy of Driftaway Coffee, who crowdsourced this recommendation from their team. It technically has three different modes: hot foam, cold foam, and heated milk with no foam at all — so if you’re a person who likes to change up their coffee or tea drink, the range on this little machine will certainly be useful. After hearing about it from those pros, I spotted creative consultant and writer Harling Ross using a slightly older model of it on Instagram. “I bought it after reading tons of glowing reviews, and it has definitely lived up to them,” she told me. “I make myself a matcha latte every morning, so a good frother is critical. I like a decent layer of foam, but not so much foam that it’s all air and no milk. I also like my milk to be quite hot. This frother gives me the perfect foam-to-milk ratio and temperature every time, and as a bonus, the large diameter makes it really easy to clean.”
[Editor’s note: The Chinya tends to go in and out of stock every so often, so keep your eye on it.]
Best milk frother with adjustable temperature
Steam creation | Electric
This setup costs more, but that’s because it gives you a maximum amount of control. “It can go between 120 and 160 degrees,” says Cary Wong, a member of the Partners Coffee education team, so you can find the perfect temperature for yourself. Plus, it’s stainless steel for easy cleaning, with parts that can go into the dishwasher.
Best milk frother with dishwasher-safe pitcher
Steam | Electric
While the Aevo, recommended by Nguyen Coffee Supply founder Sahra Nguyen, looks similar to the two frothers above, it’s actually built a bit differently. The frothing mechanism — meaning the metal disc that whirs around to create air — is attached to the lid, instead of to the bottom of the pitcher. This means that once you’re done using it, you can remove the lid and give the disc a quick rinse, and the pitcher can go straight into the dishwasher. “Having those two separate parts is great,” Nguyen says. “It makes it super easy to clean.” Like the Chinya, it allows for hot foam, cold foam, and heated milk, though if you opt for foam, Nguyen advises using whole milk, cream, or half-and-half to produce the fluffiest texture (Aevo says anything with 3 percent or above fat content will produce the best result). She also notes the “minimal and clean design,” a plus if your frother lives on your counter.
Best battery-operated milk frother
No steam | Battery-operated
In general, battery-operated handheld frothers (which pretty much all have a small flat whisk at the end of a long handle that whirs quickly when you press a button) are weaker than their electric counterparts. That’s why Mody and McCarthy were amazed by the performance of the NanoFoamer when they tried it a few months ago. Over the course of many tests, it was able to produce a texture surprisingly close to café-quality foam, or what the pros call “micro bubbles” or “microfoam.” It’s a consistency difficult to achieve without the force of a steam wand, but McCarthy swears this stacks up. “It kind of blew my mind, honestly,” he says, noting that the whisk comes with three different-size heads, and that the middle “fine” one was his and Mody’s favorite for traditional microfoam. (See Driftaway’s recent Reel for even more nitty-gritty instructions on how to use the gadget.)
Best less-expensive battery-operated milk frother
No steam | Battery-operated
If you don’t want to shell out so much (and you don’t feel picky about microfoam), there are many other battery-operated milk frothers out there. The Aerolatte is one such simple, compact, and easy-to-store contraption. Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso, says he originally scoffed at the idea (he’s a real industry professional, you know). But since his daughter uses this one every morning for her own coffee, even with a fancy espresso machine at home, he’s come around: “She broke me down over time and I must admit, the results are pretty good after a little lighthearted practice.” A similar recommendation I got for another handheld frother is this one, from Sarai Reed, the interior-design consultant behind Apron Saint. “I like that it’s lightweight and has a sleek stainless-steel design,” she says.
Best rechargeable milk frother
No steam | USB-rechargeable
Golde, a Strategist-favorite brand for all things wellness, sells a rechargeable milk frother. It looks and acts similarly to the battery-operated models above, but its power comes from plugging it into a USB. There’s one simple button that goes from fast to superfast, and then off, and the whisk head can be detached for easy cleaning (you don’t have to worry about getting the plug insert wet). Based on site reviews, folks say the body is super sturdy and the mechanism works great, even for “dairy-free/nut-milk options that typically don’t froth too well,” writes one.
Best stovetop milk frother
Steam | Stovetop-operated
The closest you’re going to get to a milk frother attached to an espresso machine is the Bellman Stovetop Steamer, which “mimics a steam wand,” says Kyle Ramage, co-owner of Black & White Coffee Roasters in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s quite an impressive contraption that uses the heat from a burner to build up steam pressure in a chamber filled with water. Once enough pressure has been created, you release it from an attached wand directly into a cup of milk. (There’s a video on their site if you want a visual.) The downside is that this whole process can take about 15 minutes. But if you really want to get as close to café-quality foam as possible — what the pros call “micro bubbles” and what Marco Suarez, one of the owners of Methodical Coffee in Greenville, South Carolina, says almost has the texture of paint — this is your best bet.
Best manual milk frother
No steam | Manual
I have to say, I was surprised to hear nearly all of the experts I spoke with recommend a straight-up French press (the kind you make coffee in) or this Bodum Milk Frother that works in exactly the same way. “Just heat your milk to 130 to 140 degrees in the microwave, and then use the press plunger to texture it,” explains Nye. “There are plenty of videos online that show the technique.” Ramage goes so far as to say he’s seen people pour impressive latte art with milk frothed in a French press, and it’s a method that Wong himself often uses at home.
• James McCarthy, coffee educator at Driftaway Coffee
• Suyog Mody, founder of Driftaway Coffee
• Sahra Nguyen, founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply
• Ken Nye, owner of Ninth Street Espresso
• Kyle Ramage, co-owner of Black & White Coffee Roasters
• Sarai Reed, interior-design consultant at Apron Saint
• Harling Ross, consultant and writer
• Cary Wong, member of the Partners Coffee education team
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