How To Choose A Milk Frother, Automatic And Manual Cappuccino And Latte Frothers

How To Choose A Milk Frother, Automatic And Manual Cappuccino And Latte Frothers

Fans of coffee drinks with milk, the most popular of which is the classic cappuccino, sooner or later ask themselves the question of optimizing and / or automating the process of obtaining milk foam.

Fortunately, there are many devices on the modern market designed to heat and froth milk. Some of them are integrated into coffee makers and coffee machines, others are independent separate devices.

At the same time, cappuccinatores are automatic (not requiring special knowledge and skills) and manual (in this case, the quality of the foam will depend on the skills and qualifications of the user).

Let’s see how you can get warmed and frothed milk and what are the pros and cons of different devices.

Mechanical cappuccinatore (we whip milk with hot steam)

Owners of carob coffee makers designed for making espresso (and drinks based on it), instead of their coffee machine, received the usual classic cappuccinatore – a tube for supplying steam. With the help of such a cappuccinatore, you can whip milk in any separate container – even in an ordinary cup. Although, of course, it is better to use a special milk pitcher.

metal pitcher

metal pitcher

The metal pitcher is better suited for frothing milk due to its shape. It will also allow you to more accurately control the temperature of the contents. The Specialty Coffee Association – recommends heating the milk to 55-65 °C, and if you don’t have a special thermometer, you’ll have to manually monitor the temperature of the milk.

It is not very difficult to develop this skill, however, during training, we still recommend arming yourself with a probe thermometer to remember as best as possible what temperature is optimal and how the milk jug should feel.

How To Choose A Milk Frother, Automatic And Manual Cappuccino And Latte Frothers

De’Longhi La Specialista carob coffee maker (cappuccinatore tube located on the right)

Steam pipes-cappuccinatores can be equipped with various nozzles, the purpose of which is to simplify the process of frothing milk. However, budget devices sometimes have frankly stupid solutions that do not help, but rather interfere with the user (these, for example, include wide plastic tube nozzles).

The standard for inexpensive home espresso coffee makers is the Panarello nozzle. With its help, anyone can whip the foam for cappuccino, latte, and other milky coffee drinks.

Pannarello nozzle

Pannarello nozzle

The principle of operation of the Panarello nozzle is simple: visually it looks like a tube with holes at the end, made of plastic or stainless steel. In the process of steam passing through the nozzle, it is divided into several streams, which eliminates the splashing of milk and simplifies obtaining a foam of uniform consistency.

At the same time, the milk itself enters the nozzle through the side hole and is actively saturated with air. There are even Panarello nozzles with a foam regulator that allow you to whip more or heat milk more without whipping.

Manual frothing milk has its advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, manual whipping will require some skill (not every coffee lover will cope with this task the first time).

Secondly, budget coffee makers, as a rule, are equipped with a small volume boiler, so the amount of steam that the coffee maker can produce “at one time” will turn out to be very small, and this will inevitably lead to an increase in the time for whipping and heating milk. If you are preparing one drink, this is not a problem, but if you need to prepare three or four cappuccinos in a row, then the process can take a long time.

On the other hand, an experienced user with the help of a steamer-steamer will be able to get a foam of exactly the consistency that he needs. Such cappuccinatores are easy to maintain and (which is important!) will be completely free – any carob coffee maker has a steamer. Finally, just such a cappuccinatore is suitable for lovers of latte art (drawings on the surface of a coffee drink).

Pros:

  • no need to buy additional devices
  • easy to prepare the right amount of foam at the right temperature
  • easy to clean
  • suitable for latte art

Minuses:

  • requires a certain skill from the user
  • you need a container for whipping
  • preparation of the drink will take longer

Electric whisk

The most budgetary solution for automating the milk frothing process is the purchase of a special whisk powered by batteries or accumulators.

Gemlux GL-FM milk frother

Gemlux GL-FM milk frother

Such a device consists of a handle and a long whisk with a spring at the end. The rotation of the whisk is carried out by a miniature motor, the power of which is quite small (but in principle it is sufficient to whip milk).

The key advantage of this type of device is its low price. We did not find a fundamental difference between these whisks: they all work in approximately the same way and the quality of the milk foam is the same.

However, you need to understand that the heating of milk does not occur. And therefore, to get your favorite cappuccino, you will first have to heat the milk somewhere (on the stove or in the microwave) and control its temperature yourself, and only then turn on the electric cappuccino machine and hold it in your hands throughout the whipping process. In general, you need to be prepared for the fact that the drink will not be ready in a minute or even in three to five minutes.

Finally, let’s mention one more significant drawback of such solutions: most of these devices are of poor build quality and break down rather quickly. Given the low price, this is unlikely to be a big tragedy, but it can spoil the mood – no one likes it when household appliances fail.

Pros:

  • low price
  • no wire

Minuses:

  • milk will have to be heated separately
  • the drink will be ready after quite a long time
  • (usually) poor build quality

Individual frothers with milk container

The next class of household appliances for frothing milk is electric frothers (frothers) with a milk container. Most of these devices have three modes of operation: automatic frothing and heating of milk (can also be used to make cocoa), heating milk and other liquids without foaming, and frothing milk without heating.

Individual frothers with milk container

Gastrorag milk warmer and frother

The principle of operation of such beaters is simple: in their design, they are similar to an ordinary electric kettle. The milk container, inside which the heating element is hidden, is installed on the “base”, which, in turn, is plugged into the socket. Use the jug itself, so you don’t have to carry the power cord around with you.

The milk container has a non-stick coating, and at the bottom, there is a mount for a metal whisk with a spring (or for a stirrer attachment).

Starting the device is carried out at the touch of a button. The appliance will then automatically heat and/or stir the milk. Switching off is done by a timer (when frothing cold milk) or when a certain temperature is reached.

Depending on personal preferences, foamers of different sizes can be purchased. As a rule, some models allow you to froth 125-250 ml of milk at a time (you can heat up twice as much – from 250 to 500 ml).

Such frothers, in our opinion, are practically devoid of disadvantages: they are relatively inexpensive, easy to use and clean, and allow you to easily obtain stable milk foam.

The only “weak spot” for these devices is the mechanical drive, or rather, the shaft gasket. If the tightness of the connection is broken and milk begins to get inside the motor unit, the device will most likely fail.

At the same time, most likely, it will be cheaper and easier to purchase a new whipper than to repair the old one. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the probability of such a breakdown in advance: such beaters can work for years, or they can break (start to leak) just a couple of months after purchase.

Pros:

  • suitable for hot and cold milk as well as cocoa
  • ease of care
  • come in different sizes

Minuses:

  • mechanical drive does not exclude the possibility of leakage

Mechanical frother with magnetic drive

A more modern and more successful version of the automatic foamer is very similar in its characteristics to the foamer with a mechanical drive, but it has one fundamental difference – the rotation of the whisk is carried out using a magnetic drive. A motor with a magnet rotates on the inside of the appliance, and a whisk (also equipped with a magnet) froths the milk in the bowl.

The advantages of this solution are obvious: the bowl of the jug has no holes, and therefore the possibility of leakage is excluded.

Such frothers are sold as separate devices and are also often supplied as part of coffee machines (for example, manufactured under the Nespresso brand)

Mechanical frother with magnetic drive

Capsule coffee machine Nespresso De’Longhi Expert & Milk

In our opinion, such solutions are optimal when there is a need for a separate device for preparing milk foam.

Pros:

  • suitable for hot and cold milk as well as cocoa
  • ease of care
  • come in different sizes

Minuses:

  • not found

Coffee machines with an automatic milk frother

The easiest (but also the most expensive) way to quickly get a coffee drink with milk is to buy a coffee machine with an automatic cappuccinatore. In this case, milk can be supplied through a straw (from a container or a regular milk bag). Such a system is implemented, for example, in the Nivona CafeRomatica coffee machine.

Coffee machines with an automatic milk frother

Nivona CafeRomatica coffee machine: automatic milk frother and nine individual recipes

The second option that can be found on De’Longhi coffee machines is a special jug with a built-in cappuccino maker called LatteCrema.

This device is a double-walled milk jug (two walls and air between them are needed so that the milk in the room does not heat up too quickly), and the cappuccinatore is a lid on which the foam level regulator is located.

The jug itself can be easily removed (disconnected) from the coffee machine and placed on the shelf of the refrigerator – where it should be stored with the remnants of unused milk.

The user can adjust the intensity of the foam (the leftmost value of the knob is the supply of milk without foaming, the central one is the minimum foam level, the right one is the maximum foam), and the coffee machine itself will take care of the jug.

After using the Cappuccinatore, it will dispense a small amount of hot water to flush out any remaining milk from the system. The user, therefore, will only have to wipe the place where the cappuccinatore docks with the body of the device.

Finally, we mention that coffee machines prepare drinks automatically, that is, the cappuccinatore will not only whip and heat milk but also pour hot foam into a cup along with coffee.

De'Longhi PrimaDonna Elite ECAM coffee machine

De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite ECAM coffee machine

Note that some De’Longhi models (for example, PrimaDonna Elite ECAM) can be equipped with another unusual accessory – a jug for automatic preparation of hot chocolate and cocoa.

It is installed in place of a jug-cappuccinatore, and the rotation of the mixer nozzle is carried out according to the principle already familiar to us – due to a magnet located at the bottom of the stand.

The main purpose of this accessory is the preparation of hot drinks based on cocoa and hot chocolate. Some machines also have the Cold Coffee program, for which you can find the Arto stripper in the kit – an additional mechanical whisk with magnets and a spring around the perimeter for whipping, and not just mixing the contents.

The procedure for preparing cold drinks is simple: first, regular espresso is poured into a jug, then ice cubes and sugar are sent there. A jug with all the ingredients is connected to a steam tap and everything in it is mechanically mixed and whipped.

It would seem that we have an ideal solution. What can go wrong and what can you not like here? There are two main disadvantages of automatic systems. The first is that the user has little or no control over the quality of the foam (fluffiness, bubble size, temperature, etc.). The quality of whipped milk depends on the chosen model of the coffee machine – and this will be with you for a long time (after all, the price of such devices is usually quite high).

The second drawback is that not all coffee machines can prepare the drinks you need. So, some popular models are not even able to prepare the right cappuccino (pour the espresso into a cup, then heated foamed milk). Instead, the milk foam is poured first, and only then espresso. For lovers of “real cappuccino” such features can be a serious drawback.

Pros:

  • fully automatic preparation of foam or coffee drinks

Minuses:

  • limited number of recipes
  • the user cannot influence the quality of the drink
  • high price

Manual frothers

Finally, let’s think about simple manual foamers. Such devices mean that the milk in them will be heated on the stove or in the microwave, and the foam is formed thanks to a special frother.

With this frother, you can easily prepare a cappuccino, mocha, or latte. In just a few movements, milk is whipped into a thick and dense foam, which does not settle or lose shape for a long time.

The most popular models of such foaming agents are produced under the Tupperware brand. Also of interest are Bialetti frothers, an Italian company known primarily for its geyser coffee makers.

Bialetti Foamer - for use with a stovetop

Bialetti Foamer – for use with a stovetop

You can choose from aluminum models – for use with a gas or electric stove, as well as glass – they are suitable for a microwave oven.

Bialetti Frother - for use with the microwave

Bialetti Frother – for use with the microwave

Pros:

  • there are models for use with stove and microwave
  • low price
  • ease of use

Minuses:

  • requires manual temperature control

How To Choose A Milk Frother, Automatic And Manual Cappuccino And Latte Frothers

As we can see, there are many devices on the modern market that allow you to easily whip and/or heat milk to make coffee drinks or cocoa.

At the same time, both fully automatic solutions are available, in which the user has almost no influence on the process, as well as manual ones – from steam frothers-steamers to compact frothers that allow you to heat milk in a microwave oven.

When choosing a frother, you should decide how much you want to participate in the process: latte art lovers and coffee geeks will certainly prefer devices that allow you to control the quality and volume of foam as accurately as possible, and those who want to get their morning cup of cappuccino as quickly as possible, are more likely to opt for an automatic cappuccinatore. And, of course, you can always consider intermediate options. Perhaps they will be the most convenient and useful in your situation.

See also: What Does Decalcify Coffee Machine Mean?

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