How To: Froth Milk Without Fancy Machines

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When it comes to coffee, I’m a snob.  I spend up to 30 minutes every day making coffee in my coffee press and frothy milk in my manual milk frother (I usually have up to 3 coffees per day, and spend about 10 minutes each time preparing it).  I don’t even use water that has been boiled.  When I’m out, I know where to go to get a coffee I like.  And, believe it or not, I’ll skip ordering a coffee from a cafe if my favorite barista isn’t there.  Yes, it’s true.  I’m a fully fledged coffee snob.

You may be wondering how on Earth I spend 10 minutes preparing a cup of coffee.  Well, it includes prepping my coffee press and manual milk frother, waiting for the water to reach the right temperature, waiting for the coffee grounds to steep, preparing the milk froth, microwaving the milk froth, then finally pouring the coffee, milk and froth into my cup.  Then, I quickly disassemble the coffee press and milk frother to clean it and leave the parts on a rack to dry until next time.  Then I enjoy my coffee.

Yes, I am really dedicated to my coffee.  Coffee isn’t something I prepare to drink willy-nilly.  I make it to relax with and enjoy.  First thing in the morning, when the kids are still in bed.  As soon as I get back home from leaving the kids off at school.  And sometimes just before I pick the kids up from school.

I love my coffee.


Recently, I remembered how I used to have to trouble getting frothy milk.  And whenever I did get some good milk froth, it just bubbled away before I could finish my coffee.  So annoying.  While looking at FoodGawker one day, I saw a recipe for a lavender and honey steamer (I just love the Hummingbird High blog!).  The milk froth in the lavender and honey steamer was stabilized in the microwave.  Hm…

I tried it out with my manual milk frother (which was $15 from Target).  I pumped the plunger in the carafe up and down to get a good amount of froth.  Then I microwaved it.  It took a bit of trial and error to get it just right (not too hot, still not cold), but I ended up on 30 seconds for the perfect temperature.  And guess what?  The milk froth was indeed stabilized and every bit of it stayed until the very last sip of coffee.  Heaven!  Because I always like to spoon out the last of the cocoa powder-coated milk froth!

So, I just thought I’d share my method of getting cafe-style milk froth without a fancy machine.  It’s really easy, and all you’ll need is chilled milk, a manual milk frother (I’ll link to some choices at the bottom of this post) and a microwave.  No previous experience required! ;)

Here is a picture tutorial I put together; just click the image for a larger, clearer version.


I’ll outline the steps above in more detail below. Before you begin frothing the milk, you should already have your coffee prepared and in your cup.

First, use chilled milk.  Warm or hot milk does not froth as well.  You can use either low fat or full fat milk, but you’ll get better froth with full fat milk.

Second, the carafe of your milk frother will probably have a “max” line.  Do not fill past this line or the milk may splash out.  You have to fill to the “max” line, however, to get a good froth.

Third, now, pump the plunger up and down quickly and sort of vigorously, but not too crazily, for about 30 seconds.  A good amount of froth should magically appear.  In the photo above, I had only done about 10 seconds, so there’s not too much froth at that point.  The froth will have large bubbles and will be a bit loose, not like cafe-style froth.  And yes, I know, I spelled vigorous wrong in the picture tutorial.  Sorry.

Fourth, remove the plunger from the carafe and tap off any excess milk froth from the plunger back into the carafe.  Place the carafe in the microwave.  Do not microwave the plunger as it has metal and plastic pieces.  Only microwave the glass carafe – and make sure the instructions say it is safe for the microwave.  Microwave, on high, for 25-30 seconds.  My microwave is 1100 watts.  Adjust your time accordingly, erring on the lesser side so as not to get your milk too hot.

Fifth, take the carafe out of the microwave carefully so as not to burn yourself (just in case you got it too hot).  You’ll see that the froth has changed to fine bubbles, and is rather stiff.  This is what you want.  A lovely, silky froth that will stay until the last sip of coffee.

Sixth, if you haven’t already done so, pour your coffee into your cup and use your sweetener of choice.  Grab the carafe full of milk froth and a spoon.  Use the spoon to hold back the milk froth as you pour the milk into your coffee.  Once you’ve got all the milk in, remove the spoon and pour in the froth.

Seventh, ta-da!  It never fails; lovely, silky milk froth every time!

Eighth, top with some hot cocoa mix – I use Vittoria Chococino – if you like, and enjoy.


Oh, and just to prove that the froth will last until the last sip….







It’s almost finger-licking good!

This method works for hot cocoa, as well.  I make my daughter hot cocoa with a layer of frothy milk by mixing the hot cocoa mixture and cold milk in the carafe, then I follow the above steps above to make it frothy and microwave it for 30 seconds. I then stop the microwave so the froth doesn’t get too high, then microwave again for another 10-15 seconds to make it a kid-friendly warm temperature.  She loves it!

Okay, so you want to froth your own milk but can’t fork out hundreds, or thousands, of dollars for a fancy espresso machine?  Check out these manual milk frothers below.

GROSCHE FROTHEE hand operated milk frother – $9.95 +shipping
Norpro Glass Froth Master – $13.15 +shipping
BonJour Caffe Froth Monet Milk Frother, Black – $19.99 +shipping
BonJour Caffe Froth Maximus Milk Frother $21.39 +shipping
BonJour Cafe Froth Monet Manual Frother, Mirror Polish Finish – $23.23 +shipping
Bodum Chambord 5-Ounce Milk Frother – $25.21 +shipping
Bodum Chambord Milk Frother – $39.95 +shipping
–Prices were correct at time of publishing this post


Tell me, what’s your favorite coffee?  Mine?  Cappuccino! :)

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  1. says

    I found your site while doing some research and just had to say “hi” from one coffee snob to another! Thanks for this tutorial, I’ll be giving it a try :)

  2. Joyce says

    Thanks so much for this post! I’d wanted a frother, but had no idea hand frothers were a thing. I was in TJMaxx poking around their kitchen section and saw this one and had no idea how to use it since it had no instruction!

    I actually googled “hand milk frother” on my phone while standing in the aisle and came across your article.

    I bought it and just tried it. Thanks again!

    • Lorrie57 says

      I was like you a gadget that was so cute, but with no instructions. I am so excited to make “Starbucks-a-like” coffee at home at a fraction of the cost.:)

  3. Lorrie57 says

    I am so glad I found your tutorial! I recently bought a “hand mixer thing” for 39 cents. It was a cute gadget, but I had no idea what to do with it. I was out of town last week and happened to see a demonstration at Kroger of a similar gadget.
    The guy used it to make froth. When I returned home, I excitedly used mine and made froth. Woo hew!!! I am hooked, but I wanted warm froth. I will try what you suggested. Thank you so much.

  4. Gina says

    I removed the metal handle from an old French press, and use the glass beaker as a frother. Works great!

  5. Momo says

    Isn’t a milk frothed a fancy machine?
    Man, I guess it’s not for college students, haha! :P

  6. Han says

    Hi. Just tried this trick and loved it! Your 30 seconds thing worked great for me too. I’m happy that I could serve my family a good greentea latte with nice frothy milk on top. Thanks!

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