Coffee alone is good, but the foamy milk on top of it makes the whole experience better. Baristas, or those who make our coffee, put frothed milk on top of the coffee to make it taste and look better.
Taste-wise, it serves as a neutralizer and sweetener to the bitter taste of coffee. It also acts as a “mouth guard” since it is less hot than the coffee beneath it.
Look-wise, it makes a cup of coffee look lush and creamy. It can also be used to draw different figures on top of the coffee such as a leaf or even an elephant.
Sometimes, cocoa powder or any sort of dusting is put on top of the foam since it does not mix immediately to the coffee.
Frothed milk is milk which has become foamy due to injection of air bubbles from steam to the milk. However, there are different results of frothing based on the type of milk: dairy or non-dairy, skimmed or whole, organic or lactose-free.
Today, we discuss one specific milk: almond milk. Can you froth it? Or does it just stay flat and light?
What Is Almond Milk?
Almond milk is derived from almond which is the seed of the almond tree. Almond is usually mixed to chocolate bars or trail mixes. It is usually converted to milk, butter, and cream. In the United States alone, it comprised more than half or 60% of all plant-milk sales in 2014.
This type of milk has attracted many types of people such as:
- 1Those looking for an alternative to dairy milk.
- 2Those losing weight and counting sugars.
- 3Those who have access to almonds.
- 4Those who are looking for an ethically made milk (since most almond milk are made by small companies).
- 5Those looking for a new taste and experience.
It is popular for being dairy-free which makes it low in fat and cholesterol. Dairy-free milk is milk is derived from plant and not cows making it zero dairy while lactose-free milk is dairy milk which the enzyme lactase has been added to remove lactose. It is also the usual alternative to dairy milk for vegans and vegetarians since dairy milk comes from cows, carabaos, or goats.
These are what defines almond milk:
- Mild sweetness since it has lesser amounts of sugar
- Earthy and nutty taste since it is derived from a tree
- Minimal calories since it is non-dairy
- Low cholesterol, sugar, and fat since it is none dairy
- Rich in protein since it is derived from a nut
- Non-dairy since it is derived from a plant
- Rich in micronutrients since it is derived from a plant
To convert almond into almond milk, the necessary steps are followed:
- 1Soak the almonds in water overnight or 7-10 hours.
- 2Blend the almonds using a blender, food processor, or a manual grinder. The consistency affects the flavor of the milk: the finer the blend, the tastier the milk is.
- 3Put the almond grounds into a cheesecloth (a gauze-like cloth with a loose weave) and squeeze the liquid out. You can do this repeatedly to produce more yield.
- 4The end result is a white-ish liquid. Store this just like regular milk.
Aside from almond milk, there are other types of milk such as:
- Whole milk – milk which has few steps between the cow and the consumer
- 2% milk (reduced fat) – its fat is 2% of the total weight of the milk
- Low-fat milk – whole milk which underwent a process that removes the natural fat
- Zero fat/skimmed milk – milk with totally zero fat
- Low-fat milk –
- Low-fat milk –
- Low-fat milk –
- Low-fat milk –
How to Froth Almond Milk?
To do this, the most common and efficient way is to use a steam wand attached to a coffee machine.
A steam wand is a controllable bent steel tube that releases pressurized air. The pressurized air both agitates the particles and injects air bubbles into the milk. These steps will guide you on how to froth milk:
- 1First, you put the end of the steam wand shortly below the top of the milk (other people put it near to the bottom).
- 2Start with the lowest intensity to avoid spillage and amp up the intensity to further froth the milk.
- 3Adjust the depth of the wand and the pressure until foam starts to show and the “squealing” stops. Since you are using low-fat milk, the increase in pressure should be gradual to have a more consistent foam.
- 4You are expecting foamy milk which has consistent microbubbles and does not flow easily as it is now thick.
- 5If the milk has ended up with small and big air bubbles, you can let the milk stay still for a while and repeat the whole process. However, if you are in a cafe and rushing orders, it is best you use a new pitcher of milk. The whole process takes less than a minute.
There are many variables aside from experience which affects how you froth milk such as:
- Temperature. At 35 degrees Celsius, the milk is at its best temperature to hold microbubbles
- Size of the pitcher/jug. If the pitcher is small with a narrow mouth, the milk can spill out. If the pitcher is big with a wide mouth, it will take a longer time to froth the milk.
- Equipment. Electric equipment would do better compared to manual methods.
However, unlike regular milk which comes from cows, almond milk is non-dairy which does not froth or foam easy due to the lack of fat. Beginner baristas have a hard time making a consistent, thick, and rich foam out of almond milk.
Usually, it is dairy milk which is served in cafes (and is the common request of customers) so most baristas are used to high-fat milk which is easier to froth than almond milk, a low fat, non-dairy milk.
There is also other plant-derived milk like almond milk. Other plant-milk which froths the best are the following:
- Oat milk – it is known for being rich in fiber and also gluten-free
- Pea milk – a relatively new type of plant-milk which has high nutritional benefits
- Hemp milk – while illegal in some countries, it comes from the psychoactive hemp plant
- Rice milk – similar to almond milk, it is low fat which makes it hard to froth
- Soy milk – opposite of almond milk, it is high fat which makes it easy to foam
- Coconut milk – considered to be the plant-milk which has the highest fat content
- Quinoa milk – known for having essential amino acids
If you do not have a dedicated coffee machine with an attached steam wand, you can use the following types of equipment to froth your almond milk:
- Shake by hand using a jar
- Whisk by hand
- Mix via an electric mixer
- Mix via an electric froth wand
- Blend via blender
- Pump via a pump frother
As with milk with zero to minimal fat content, it is flat and thin in the first place which makes it hard to froth. Fat helps in making it foamy by attracting hydrophilic ends (attracted to water) which allows air and water to form a viscous and stable mixture in the milk.
It is usual that your first try in frothing almond milk is not the best and looks like milk with big and small. Practice makes perfect, even in making foamy milk.
Beginners often do the following mistakes in frothing milk:
- Not cleansing the steam wand first. Before using, purge out the remaining water and other substances inside the steam wand by turning it on in.
- Steam tip too high or low. Too high will cause spillage while too low will cause additional hotness. Make sure you listen to it if there is too much “squealing” you need to adjust the depth of the steam wand.
- Pressure too high or low. Too high will “rush” the milk and form uneven air bubbles while too low will cause a longer time of frothing which eventually makes the milk cold.
- Making the milk too hot. This will make it hard for the milk to hold air bubbles.
- Not immediately pouring the milk onto the coffee. Stale milk will do no good for coffee.
In the coffee-with-milk spectrum, the opposite of frothed milk is milk mixed into the coffee directly such as iced coffee. For those who have not tried coffee with frothed milk yet, its taste is still the same but its texture becomes a more sticky and dense version.
When drinking it, the coffee below it is the one to be finished first since coffee passes through the foamy milk as you sip it. This is because coffee is lighter and less dense than frothed milk.
Is Almond Milk for You?
The answer to this question depends on you. Each milk has its own pros and cons which you should examine first before making a certain type of milk part of your diet. Fortunately, there are many stores who are selling other types of milk aside from the usual dairy fresh milk.
To start, almond milk has plentiful health benefits which are the following:
- Being rich in protein and minimal calories, almond milk is perfect for losing weight and gaining mass
- Almond milk has low sugar content which makes it suitable for diabetic people
- High amounts of Vitamin E can help in combating inflammation, stress, and fatigue
- Rich in Calcium which can help in good bone health
- It is lactose-free which is suitable for lactose intolerant people
- Non-dairy and vegan
Almond milk can be considered a “power milk” due to its minimal cholesterol, calories, fat, and sugar. However, almond milk also has trade-offs compared to regular dairy milk which is the following:
- For those with allergies to nuts, almond milk is not for you
- It is a bit pricier compared to regular store-bought milk due to fewer supply
- It is resource-consuming since it takes a lot of almonds to produce a cup of milk compared to dairy milk (for context, cows produce 6 to 7 gallons of milk per day)
- If you are making it at home, it is time-consuming to make
- Almond milk can cause skin irritation
As with any food coming from plants, it is healthier than those coming from animals. It is usually in lower supply and stocks so it can cost more.
There are many reviews, research, and resources regarding almond milk. If you are keen on trying it, you can start by reading reviews if people like it or read researches if it is significantly healthier than dairy milk.
Almond milk is now becoming one of the more popular varieties of milk. While the milk’s following shows that it is worthy of your money, it is best you ask family and friends who have tried almond milk already if they are for you.
So… Can You Froth Almond Milk?
Yes, you can. But it will take practice to perfect it. While being non-fatty is a health benefit, it is also a characteristic which makes almond milk hard to froth.
The type of milk is important in the taste of the coffee. Some may like whole milk for its fuller and richer taste, some may like non-fat milk if they are losing weight, or some may like almond milk which has the perfect sweetness and nutty taste to balance the strong and bitter taste of coffee.
If you are ready and dedicated to switching to non-dairy plant-derived milk, almond milk can be a good start.
Almond milk may be an unusual choice for traditional coffee drinkers but it is worth the try. Aside from the said health benefits, almond milk brings a new taste to your coffee which you may be craving for in your next trip to your cafe.