How to Froth Milk with a French Press (for latte at home)

Can you froth milk with a French press?

Yes, you can froth milk with a French press. Simply heat your milk, pour into the press and move the plunger up and down for 30 seconds. This will create a nice frothy milk. 

All you need is a French press and a way to heat milk (microwave or stovetop). It’s the best way to create the best foam without a fancy machine. Right from the comfort of your own home, no coffee shop required.

While it’s simple to create a velvety, smooth foamy milk without using controlled steam, the end result is not as precise or great for pouring art. However, it’s still my favourite method to texture milk without a machine.

How to Froth Milk with a French Press

It’s easy to learn how to make frothy milk with your French press. If you’re making an iced drink, skip the first step.

Step 1: Heat Milk on Stove or in Microwave

Heat the milk until just about to steam. Don’t boil it, since it will not hold froth that way. Best milk temp: 60-68C (140-155F).

For my press I use about 1 cup of milk. You want the press to be about third of the way full, so a smaller pitcher is better.

  • Stovetop: Place your milk in a small saucepan on the stove top. Cook it over medium heat until heated and starting to steam. Stir throughout to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Microwave: Pour milk into a glass container like a mug or a mason jar. Microwave for about a minute. if it’s not steaming just put in for 15 more seconds.
  • If you’re adding any syrup do that before you heat it.

Step 2: Froth Milk

  • Pour your warm milk into the French press.
  • Place the lid on top and pump the plunger up and down for 30 seconds or until the milk has almost doubled in size.
  • be sure that the French press plunger is moving part way into the milk on each press.

Step 3: Bubbles

  • After frothing, gently tap that base of your press on the counter. This will help remove any larger bubbles.
  • Now you can pour it into your espresso or strong coffee.

Use your frothy milk in all your favourite espresso drinks. Drink Ideas are listed further down in the post.

Tips & Tricks

  • Milk Temp: The right temperature to froth milk is between 60-68 degrees Celsius or 140-155 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is because the protein molecules in milk, trap air inside small bubbles when it is frothed.
  • Latte Art: A milk-frothing pitcher gives you greater control, but with a little bit of practice you can learn to create latte art with a press pitcher. I notice that when the milk is too hot, there is hardly any micro-foam. Which makes latte art impossible. You want hot milk but not to the point of boiling.
  • Cold Milk: You can froth cold milk. Easily create cold foam with a French press to use in your iced drinks.. 
  • Best Type of Milk: The milk that froths the best overall whole milk or 2%. You can also purchase lactose-free milks for great foam.
  • Barista Blend Plant Milks: If you’re using a non-dairy milk like soy milk or almond milk, you will achieve better results using a barista blend. My favourite option is a barista blend oat milk. regular plant milks work too.

Pump Frother vs a Mason Jar

By far these are the two easiest ways to create frothed milk without a fancy espresso machine. I find that I achieve the best results when I use one of my French presses to froth milk. 

You can buy a pump frother that is designed for frothing milk. If you already own a press then I wouldn’t bother. However you can also create some nice foam bubbles with a jar. It’s what I did for years before I figured out I could use my press.

How to Use a Mason Jar

I like to froth milk in a jar by heating my milk first. Then shaking it vigorously in a jar with a lid for 30ish seconds. 

Other Types of Frothers

There are other milk frothers to use at home:

  • Handheld milk frother (affordable quick option)
  • Electric milk frother or an automatic milk frother (great way to seamlessly froth and heat milk at home)
  • Immersion blender or blender
  • Handheld whisk
  • Handheld mixer

Steam Wand vs Frothing Tools

Steamed milk is made using a steam wand and is always hot milk. While frothed milk can be made hot or cold milk and is done by incorporating air bubbles into the milk.

Steamed, frothy milk is normally made using a steam wand. And is the key to many espresso based drinks like a latte or cappuccino. 

Using a French press to create milk foam will help coffee lovers like you and me create fancy lattes at home.

Ways to use Your Foamy Milk

I like to add froth my drinks. It adds a creamier texture to homemade cafe latte’s or a tea latte, like this Royal English Breakfast tea latte.

No espresso? You can make a latte at home using strong coffee or this espresso substitute. For brewing coffee. I use 2 tablespoons of ground coffee to one cup of water. This makes a double strength coffee perfect for making a latte at home

Basic Latte:

  • Double shot of espresso (1/2 cup coffee or substitute)
  • 1 cup of frothy heated milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons of syrup

Vanilla Latte: 

  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla syrup to your milk before heating and frothing it

Maple Latte

  • Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to your milk before heating & frothing it
  • Then pour over your hot milk over your espresso 

Mocha Latte: 

In order to make a mocha latte without a machine:

  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 cup oat milk
  • Heat and make sure to whisk in the cocoa powder and syrup.
  • Pour over double shot of espresso or 1/2 cup strong coffee.

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