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How to Make Cold Foam for Coffee

Discover how to make cold foam at home, adding a touch of barista-style luxury to your daily brew

We’ve seen steamed and hot frothy milk top coffee-shop staples for years, but there’s a new kid on the block: one that delivers that light and air-like foamy finish to your drink, but which you can create in the comfort of your own home.

Popularized by coffee megachain Starbucks, this cool, creamy and sweet-tasting addition has developed a large following, with many searching for the best DIY and homemade versions in a bid to save money, get creative with their daily brew and gain access to delicious cold foam at any hour of the day.

If you want to learn how to make cold foam for coffee in your own kitchen, read our guide below, which features step-by-step instructions, an exhaustive list of frothing techniques, and some great ideas for additional ingredients.

What is cold foam and why do people like it?

Cold foam is a milk-based coffee topping that has become massively popular in recent years. Unlike steamed milk – whose smooth, creamy, and dense-yet-airy texture comes from being worked through with jets of hot steam – cold foam is lighter, bubblier, and is aerated without being heated. A popular add-on at large coffee chains such as Starbucks and Dunkin’, cold foam is often enhanced with sweeteners and syrups, or colored with powdered spices, adding both flavor and visual intrigue to your coffee. Cold foam can be used to top both cold and hot coffees, making for a decadent addition to everything from regular lattés to iced mochas, cold brew coffees, matcha and more.

What ingredients go into cold foam?

If you want to make cold foam at home, the obvious first ingredient is milk. For the most luxurious flavor, richer options such as half and half, heavy cream or whole milk are the best place to start. The only downside with these decadent ingredients is that they may not reach the same levels of frothiness as a lighter option.

The majority of recipes advise the use of skim milk, since its protein-rich composition means it will produce a thicker, sturdier foam than milks with a higher fat content. If you’re trying to avoid dairy altogether then you can use a plant-based alternative such as an almond, oat or coconut milk.

As noted above, people enjoy cold foam for its pleasant texture, but also its sweet flavor. To enhance your cold foam’s sweetness or achieve a richer flavor, you can add simple syrup, maple syrup, coffee syrups, pumpkin spice mix, vanilla extract, matcha powder – or, really, anything else you’d like to try.

What appliances or household devices can I use to make cold foam?

Once you’ve decided on your milk and flavorings, you’ll need a way to create that perfectly airy cold foam texture. There are a few different ways you can achieve this, ranging from the use of simple kitchen gadgets to more involved but effective methods. Here are a few of our favorites:

Using a handheld milk frother is the simplest, cheapest option for creating properly textured cold foam. Our favorite handheld milk frother in tests is the Aerolatte To Go, a battery-powered frother that comes with a handy storage case. Once you get the hang of handheld frothing, a tool such as the Aerolatte can prove quite versatile, helping whip up cold foam, hot foam, and even drinks such as Matcha tea.

Want to go one better? A jug-style milk frother, while more expensive, will prove more reliable and versatile than a handheld frother, with the best jug milk frothers including settings for hot milk, hot foam, cold foam, hot cocoa, and more. Our top frother for making cold foam is the Nespresso Aeroccino 4, creating a beautifully textured cold microfoam in as little as 60 seconds.

It might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but an immersion blender can work as a very serviceable milk frother if need be. Normally used for blitzing sauces and soups, an immersion blender, such as the Cuisinart Cordless Hand Blender or the KitchenAid Cordless Variable Speed, will take about one minute to froth chilled milk to a decent level of foaminess. If you’re using this method, try frothing in a deep, wide container to avoid spills and splatters.

If you’re a big coffee drinker, chances are you may already have a French press lying around your home somewhere. To make cold foam using your press, first add your milk and other ingredients, filling it about halfway full. Next, raise and depress the press’s plunger to force air into the milk. Fifteen seconds of working away should be all that’s needed to see milk that’s foamed up nicely and roughly doubled in size. A handy tool for making robust coffee, cold brew, and foamed milk, our favorite French presses include the glass Bodum Chambord and the ceramic Le Creuset Stoneware.

Don’t have any of the above and need to make cold foam right here, right now? A little unorthodox but surprisingly effective method is to use a mason jar to make foam under your own steam, as it were. Simply add your milk and other ingredients to a sealed mason jar and shake it as vigorously as you can until you start to see foam develop.

How to make cold foam at home

Once you’ve selected your milk, add-ins, and frothing device, the process of making cold foam is relatively simple:

  1. First, decide how much foam you want to make. For every quarter cup of milk or plant-based alternative you want to use, I suggest adding one teaspoon of sweetener and a quarter teaspoon of spice mix or flavoring extract.
  2. Once you’ve added your milk and any add-ins to your frothing device – or suitable food-safe container, if you’re using some kind of handheld frother – aerate your ingredients until you’ve achieved your desired texture, which should be fluffy, pourable and stiff enough to sit on top of your liquid.
  3. Et voilá. You’ve made cold foam at home. You can go ahead and add a healthy dollop atop your caramel latté, hazelnut iced coffee, hot chocolate, or whatever your chosen drink. If you’ve made more cold foam than you need, you can store the additional mixture in an airtight food-safe container for up to three days. Just make sure to give it an extra froth or healthy shake right before use, to help it regain the correct texture.

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