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How to Steam and Froth Milk

How to Steam and Froth Milk

Steaming and frothing milk is an art, but can
be quite easily learned...

Steaming and Frothing Milk

  1. Fill a pitcher (preferably stainless steel) one third full with cold milk.
  2. Release some steam for a few seconds into an empty cup or the drip tray in order to run off any excess moisture from the steam wand.
  3. Move the pitcher in a circular motion keeping the tip of a steam nozzle just below the surface of the milk. It should be deep enough to avoid splattering the milk and high enough to create a thick froth. You'll hear a deep rumbling sound if you're doing it correctly.
  4. As the froth rises up, move the pitcher up to froth the next layer so you don't burn the foam. This is called stretching the milk.
  5. Submerge the steam wand completely and open the valve just enough to create bubbles in the milk. Now hold the pitcher at a slight angle so the milk gently swirls around and use the steam wand to stir the milk. Continue until the cup gets so hot that you can only hold it for one or two seconds.


  • You might want to use a thermometer for steaming and frothing milk. Specialized milk-steaming thermometers are available, but a regular thermometer works just as well. When frothing, the milk should reach a maximum temperature of 40 C (100 F) and about 70 C (150 F) when steaming. Ensure the temperature always remains below 80 C (175 F) to avoid burning the milk.
  • You can froth any type of milk, including soy and (to a limited extent) rice milk.
  • Milk with a lower fat content won't burn as easily as full fat milk, however milk with too little fat may not steam or foam.
  • Very cold milk froths more easily than not so cold milk.
  • Let frothed milk stand for about 30 seconds before spooning it onto espresso.
  • Don't re-steam or re-froth milk - it will result in burnt milk.