5 Best milk frothers, tested and recommended by coffee experts


Milk steamer, frothers, and pitchers are essential tools for café drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and any hot chocolate worth its salt, and you can find them in different sizes and for all budgets. If you’re looking for something quick and convenient, a handheld, battery-powered model will more than suffice.

If you’re setting your sights on becoming the Da Vinci of latte art, you may look to an automated or stovetop option below, or even an espresso machine with a milk steamer. After speaking with the coffee and espresso aficionados at Coffee Project New York and, we tested nine standalone milk frothers against the steam wand on a Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine to determine the top performers.

1. Best handheld milk frother: Powerlix Milk Pro

Most people probably don’t want to have a frother the size of a coffee grinder sitting on their countertop, but would rather have something slim enough to stow away in a drawer and forget about most of the time. The Powerlix Pro is just that, and we were able to get four ounces each of whole milk, almond milk, and oat milk frothed in under one minute (plus 30 seconds in the microwave to warm the milk).

While the brand touts that this frother runs at 19,000 rpm, we didn’t find it to be much faster than the Vulay or the Bodum Schiuma, both considerably less powerful devices. It did, however, feel a little smoother in our hands.

The only caveat with any handheld frother, including the Powerlix, is that you do have to preheat your milk (or milk alternative). Also, pressing the on/off button on the top of the device can be a little uncomfortable for some hands.

Otherwise, this is the most practical device to use where most of us are concerned. It turns out rich, foamy froth full of microbubbles in less than two minutes, and it easily fits in any drawer (though it does come with a convenient little stainless steel stand if you would like to keep it out and on display).

Pros: Compact, capable of approaching close to cafe-quality foamed milk

Cons: Doesn’t heat milk, not as consistent or predictable as a steam wand or a frothing machine

2. Best automatic milk frother: Nespresso Aeroccino 4

If you’re willing to dedicate a little counter space in your kitchen and you want to be able to simply add milk (or a milk alternative), press a button, and wait for an assuring beep that your flawlessly warmed and frothed milk is at the ready, the Nespresso Aeroccino 4 is about as user-friendly as it gets.

Further, if you use a pod espresso machine and are thinking of adding on a frothing attachment or investing in a fancier machine with a built-in frother, consider this one first. It’s not only more powerful, it’s also much easier to both use and clean than the frothers built into and added onto the pod machines we’ve tried.

There are more advanced and more powerful frothers out there, and if you want to be able to dial your frother to particular temperature settings, you’ll probably want to scroll down to our upgrade or stovetop pick.

Apart from simpler on/off mechanisms, this little machine is as intuitive as it gets. The cold-frothed milk setting works as well as it does with a manual frother, but without the sweat equity. The cappuccino setting arrives at a half-and-half combination of steamed and foamed milk, and the latte setting finishes up with about two-thirds milk and one-third foam, which is what Starbucks’ recipes call for.

Pros: Small footprint, presets for different types of foamed and steamed milk

Cons: Not dishwasher-safe, no temperature control (though unless you’re very picky you won’t need it)

3. Best upgrade milk frother: Breville Milk Cafe

While it’s only about $10 more than our favorite user-friendly pick, the Breville Milk Cafe is larger and comes with an adjustable temperature dial. On one hand, it enables you to steam and froth more milk at once while also controlling the temperature. On the other, it’s relatively large, and you’ll have to spend some time learning which temperatures achieve which ratios of steamed milk to foam, and so on.

Tied with Nespresso’s Aeroccino 4 for the most consistent foam during our testing, the Breville Milk Cafe is four times as powerful, practically flawless, and once you learn your preferred settings (you may even consider marking them on the dial), it’s every bit as easy to use. It also comes with a pile of recipes in the manual including all sorts of milk-based drinks as well as several hot cocktails and beverages that don’t involve milk, like hot buttered rum and mulled wine for four.

The main issue with the Breville Milk Cafe is the space it requires. Most of us aren’t using a frother every day, or don’t have a lot of disposable space on our kitchen counters or in our cabinets. 

That said, if you’re enthusiastic about steaming and frothing milk (but still want an automatic machine), live in a larger household where steamed and frothed milk are regularly consumed, or want a frother that is dishwasher-safe, the Breville is the best option.

Pros: Dishwasher-safe basin, large capacity, precision temperature dial

Cons: Large footprint, no recommended settings on dial (just temperature in degrees Fahrenheit)

4. Best stovetop milk steamer: Bellman Stovetop Espresso Maker with Pressure Gauge

Bellman’s Stovetop Steamer and Espresso Maker produces frothed and steamed milk on-par with four-figure, dual-boiler espresso machines. It comes with a cafe-style two-hole steam wand, allowing for easy steaming of up to six ounces of milk. The brand recommends steaming at around one to one-and-a-half bars of pressure and to purge it after use to keep it clean.

If you haven’t used a steam wand before, there is a bit of a learning curve. Anticipate some burnt and splattered milk when you’re just getting started, but it’s fairly simple once you get the hang of it.

The Bellman CX25P works on all stovetops at around medium to medium-high heat, and could even handle a small campfire (though the brand doesn’t endorse this use). However you use it, be careful to tightly close the valves ahead of heating, and gently open them to relieve pressure afterward.

Apart from producing cafe-quality steamed and frothed milk, as well as something exceptionally close to espresso, it’s built to last. We haven’t found any shortcomings in its design, nor any weak links regarding parts or fittings.

The bundle package, which is a bit on the pricier end, comes with a manometer (pressure gauge) and a milk-frothing pitcher, so you’re entirely set to go, minus the drinkware. Note that Bellman also makes a simpler stovetop steamer without the espresso maker for about half the price.

Pros: Cafe-quality steamed and frothed milk, compact for what it does, sturdy, high-quality stainless steel components built to last

Cons: Potentially dangerous if misused, can’t churn out a large number of beverages at once 

5. Best milk frothing pitcher: De’Longhi Stainless Steel Milk Frothing Pitcher

A milk-frothing pitcher is a fairly simple barista tool, but, after trying nearly a dozen, my favorite is this one from De’Longhi. At 12 ounces, it’s enough for a single-serve, or maybe two if you’re going small — I make two cappuccinos with mine. It won’t take up much cabinet space, but it has enough of a rounded bottom to help roil up your milk (or milk alternative) in a jiffy.

The shape makes a big difference with foaming. Once you steam your milk with a steamer wand, the shape of the jug helps when it comes time to tilt and aeraten to create nanofoam. When using other vessels for steaming and frothing, creating the right angle and generating foam is immensely trickier, especially for untrained hands.

Kitchen-grade stainless steel is extraordinarily helpful when it comes to foaming and steaming. Cupping the pitcher as you steam your milk, you’ll know you’re at the right temperature as soon as the pitcher itself (not the handle) gets a little too hot to hold. DeLonghi’s Inox 18/10 steel is also highly oxidation-resistant compared with bare stainless steel, so it’s less likely to stain.

Lastly, the spout on this model is much more pronounced than on others I’ve tried. While I’m no Matisse, this makes latte art much less challenging with more controlled pours.

Pros: Pronounced spout, rounded bottom for easy steaming, oxidation-resistant Inox 18/10 stainless steel, dishwasher-safe

Cons: Some might not appreciate the large logo

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