Of the many challenges vegans face when moving to non-dairy alternatives, getting that right frothiness on your morning cup of joe ranks right up there (along with cheese – but that’s a whole other level).
If you’re one of those poor souls like me who wildly struggled with how to froth almond milk (my milk of choice and maybe yours too) correctly, worry not.
Here is everything you need to know about how to do it right – every single time.
The Science of Frothing Almond Milk
You wouldn’t think it, but there’s a whole science behind frothing and foaming milk properly – nut or otherwise – to get that beautiful, silky foam that holds its shape and gives your latte the perfect creaminess you want.
There are three contributing factors to the frothiness perfection of your almond milk:
- The milk’s macronutrient content
- The quality of the almonds if making it yourself (or the brand of almond milk if not)
- The temperature of the milk
The Milk Content
Any kind of milk will have the three basic macronutrients: Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
I always thought it was the fat content that would determine the froth you would get from milk, but actually it's the protein. These guys over at The Perfect Grind describe it in detail if you want to get to know your serum from your casein proteins.
For those of us who want to know what almond milk brand froths up best, I got the best results from Almond Breeze with their special Barista almond milk (it's recommended on The Perfect Grind, which is where I heard about it). It makes a substantial difference as it is made for frothing but their regular almond milk works OK too.
It’s All About the Quality
The quality of almond and its origin greatly influences the quality of the milk produced, its taste, and its frothability (yes, I went ahead and coined a new word).
High-quality almonds create high-quality almond milk. Often, the more commercialized varieties are thinner and more watery, containing a very limited amount of actual almonds.
These watered down products rarely froth well, if ever.
Conventional dairy fat contains lactose, which can be adversely affected by high temperatures, causing that unsavory browning in the milk.
While almond milk doesn’t naturally contain lactose, the frothiness is still affected when it is heated at high temperatures. If you’re using a steamer, 65 degrees Celsius, or between 150 and 155 degree Fahrenheit is a good temperature to make your favorite beverage.
How to Froth Almond Milk
When we talk about how to froth almond milk, it’s difficult to decide how you should actually go about it. Just like plenty of varieties of almonds and almond milk are available, there are different ways to froth as well. They include:
- Steam almond milk in an espresso machine (so with a steam wand)
- With a little inexpensive hand operated frother
- In a microwave
1. With a Steam Wand
Unless you are one of those lucky people with an espresso machine at home - in which case I am green with envy - not many of us will be using a steam wand. Steam wands are those attachments to a coffee machine that we see in cafes that spurt, hiss, and generally provide frothy heaven.
They all come with instructions, but essentially to steam almond milk in a one of these espresso machines – if you have one at home (you lucky things) – it's a matter of pouring in enough milk that the steam wand will dip in to the level of a fingernail.
Once you have micro bubbles coming to the top of the pitcher, with the milk essentially doubling in volume, you’re done. Immediately pour the steamed almond milk into your espresso and you have yourself a fantastic latte.
If you are in the market for getting one of these beauties - and it will cost you - this shining thing is the only one I have ever used personally. I have no comparison, being the only one I have ever used, but it does produce the most amazing foam and does make your kitchen smell heavenly.
You better be using it for more than just foaming your milk for that price though!
2. With a Compact Wand Frother
Battery operated, tiny handheld wand frothers work just as well in frothing almond milk as an integrated steam wand in a fancy espresso machine. This is my frothing option of choice!
To create foam using this compact device, gently heat your almond milk on the stove in a saucepan and hold the frother directly at the milk’s surface for about 30 seconds, allowing it to foam up. And voila! You’re good to go.
Just remember - and this is from experience - any wand frother that is completely submerged won't give you a nice, silky foam. I use this little handy wand which isn't anything fancy but works beautifully.
3. In a Microwave
If you don’t even have yourself that nifty little wand-frothing device, you can just easily froth almond milk in the microwave. All you need is a microwave safe jar with a tight lid, some fresh almond milk, and a microwave.
Pour some almond milk into your glass jar, tightly close the lid, and vigorously shake it for about a minute or until the milk has doubled in volume. Quickly take the lid off the jar and put your almond milk in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds.
The microwaving step will help stabilize the froth bubbles, giving you nice and even foam. Just take it out, scoop up the foam, and pour it directly onto your brewed coffee.
The Two Pro Tips for the Best Froth
Tip#1: Keep It Fresh!
Tip#2: Keep It Cold!
The freshness of the almond milk creates a world of a difference in giving you the froth that you want. Freshly made almond milk – no older than 5 days in the fridge – will give the best results.
An older but not necessarily near expiry milk won’t produce as small bubbles and foam as you’d like. For an almond milk nearly expired, you aren’t likely to get any froth at all.
Furthermore, the temperature counts a lot, too. For the almond milk to froth very nicely, especially when you steam almond milk, it needs to be considerably cold – right out of the fridge cold. Room temperature almond milk doesn’t quite froth as well.
And there you have it! Everything you should know about frothing almond milk by yourself, in the comfort of your home.
Now the question is, how does this taste and work with oat milk...