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When you are looking to make a tasty cup of coffee, the texture is often just as important as the taste. Frothing your milk will give your coffee a much more professional, barista feel but choosing the right type of milk is crucial. Full fat milk is by far the best for frothing though there are alternatives for vegans. We will explain all.
Why full fat milk should be used for frothing
To achieve something that is unmistakably similar to a cup of frothy coffee you would purchase from a coffee shop, you should always use full fat milk.
While it might be easy to assume that any old milk will do, the higher levels of certain proteins in a bottle of full fat milk will actually help to maintain the integrity of the air bubbles.
When you froth milk, or indeed steam it, you are creating tiny pockets of air which cause the milk to increase in volume. It should also be noted that warm milk will foam better and have a longer lasting texture than cold milk.
Something you find in full fat milk, which is not in quite as high amounts in other types of milk, is casein. This is a type of protein and when you froth your milk, this forms a compound known as micelles.
These are what cause your bubbles to have a much more integral structure meaning that they will not dissipate as quickly as if you had used other types of milk.
What about semi or skimmed milk?
When using full fat milk, the result will be a much creamier texture, owing to the science behind the air bubbles. While it is possible to use semi skimmed or skimmed milk for frothing, you won’t get anything quite as impressive.
Most milks will have around 3.2-3.4% protein and there isn’t much variation between each type.
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However, the kind of proteins that can be found in each type vary greatly and since semi or skimmed milks do not have as much casein, this means that the air bubbles will not be as well maintained.
Moreover, the texture of a cup of frothed semi skimmed or skimmed milk will be very different. Instead of tiny air bubbles, the result will be much larger bubbles. This will typically mean that you get more foam but that isn’t necessarily what you want; in this case, less is more!
Full fat alternatives
For some people, using full fat milk is an absolute no-no. Whether you follow a vegan diet, have a lactose intolerance or don’t want the extra calories in your diet, the good news is that there are alternatives for full fat milk.
We will be honest, picking any plant-based milk off the shelves at your local supermarket isn’t going to produce the results you are looking for. These milks will froth to a degree but much like semi and skimmed options, they won’t create anything that so closely resembles a cup of coffee from your favourite coffee house.
But… cafes all over the world are now offering dairy-free options that are very close to their dairy counterparts and the key is in the type of plant-based milk you use. For example, it is known that soy milk and pea milk are particularly effective for frothing.
Oat milk is another type of plant-based milk that produces a pretty decent foam. If you are looking for something that is close to dairy milk then this is one of the best options. However, you should keep in mind that this is not a gluten-free option.
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But the best way to avoid using dairy and still get a good froth on your latte is to opt for a barista style plant-based milk. These are widely available and are designed for frothing so generally deliver much greater results. This type of milk froths very well – much better than the regular plant based milks you can pick up at the supermarket.
The milk is developed in such a way that the microbubbles are much sturdier and will last much longer. Furthermore, the texture that this milk takes on when frothed is very close to full-fat dairy.
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Why the milk you use to froth makes a difference
It’s all about texture when it comes to frothing milk. You wouldn’t go to your local Starbucks and expect them to serve you up a cappuccino with massive airy bubbles. You want the texture to be light and creamy.
The type of milk you use will affect the texture and if you’re looking to create a barista-style coffee at home, getting your froth right is essential.
What’s more, if you want to enjoy your foam throughout the entire drink, you need to ensure that the microbubbles are strong.
Full fat milk will always produce bubbles that last almost down to the last drop whereas other types serve more as a decoration while serving the coffee.
What milk do Starbucks use?
The standard milk offered by Starbucks is full fat cow’s milk. However, this globally loved coffee chain also offers a good range of other types of milk for people on a dairy-free diet.
Starbucks offers soy milk but if you simply want to watch what you’re eating then their non-fat milk is a great option.
What about flavoured milk?
One of the most popular coffee trends in recent times is the flavoured latte. With caramel being a massively well-loved choice and things like pumpkin spice during autumn. However, to get flavour in your coffee, you would typically use a syrup.
But many people wonder whether it is possible to froth flavoured milk for a new take on this trend. The good news is that if you are using full fat flavoured milk, you’ll likely get a decent amount of foam.
So, full fat for froth then?
When making a frothy coffee like a latte or cappuccino, it is important to ensure that you have well-frothed milk that has a delicious creamy texture. But in order to achieve this, you must use full fat milk. Doing this will give you a frothy coffee that is just as good as the one you would buy from a cafe.
Hang on, what about vegetarians?
As we mentioned earlier vegans and vegetarians now have a great alternative to full fat milk. The barista blends which you can buy from Amazon really do froth almost as well as full fat milk.
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