What Is Milk Foam In Coffee?

What is milk foam that you see always on top of your coffee? Milk foam is a thick, creamy layer that sits on top of the coffee. It’s made when steamed milk is added to espresso and creates a delightful contrast in texture and flavor.

This rich and creamy foam that floats on top of your coffee is what makes it so much more than just a cup of joe. While many people enjoy their coffee black without any additives such as milk foam can change everything – adding specially designed bubbles beautifully enhances this drink’s rich flavor profile while still letting each sip be refreshing of its own accord.

Milk foam is the perfect balance of air and milk. The lightness makes it float on your coffee and taste like cotton candy, but not so much that you can’t drink what’s underneath!

If you want to know more about milk foam, here’s everything you need to know.

Milk Foam: What And When?

what is milk foam

Milk foam is nothing but foam that contains milk with a richer flavor. It is an art of milk, as you can see many applications of milk foam. Check the next section for how to make milk foams. This section will focus on milk foam and its history. Grab your favorite cappuccino and dive into milk foams.

Period: 17th-19th Century

It is assumed that around the 1700s to 1900s century when cappuccino was first introduced. There was no specific person whom we can address as a father or mother of milk foam. But, the milk foam is always related to a cup of cappuccino. Mixing air with milk makes a thick layer of bubbles. The texture of drinks changes dramatically when you put the bubbled milk. In that old period, mill foams were not uniform and perfect as they are now. 

In Vienna in the 17th century, they make coffees with milk creams, sugar, and spices. It was called ‘Kapuziner’ inside Vienna. Outside of Vienna, these coffees were called Viennese Coffee. At that time, baristas make the cream or foams in their styles. For this reason, it was prevalent and unbeatable.

Period: 20th Century

As time passed and the popularity gained the breakthrough, baristas made a standard way for all. The aerated machine or frothers were introduced meantime. The layer of foam on the cappuccino gets thicker than in the old times. The typical foams are less wet and lighter in the modern era of coffee. Filling the coffee cups with denser foams gets trendy. It also lets baristas do some designs as lattes.

Milk foams tend to be sweet. So, it helps people consume less sugar in cups. You can add other flavors too. For example, you can put some cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and nuts. Unlike steamed milk, milk foam contains less milk fat and flavor.

Variation In Milk Foam

Since the 19th century, the use of milk in coffee beverages varies. Instead of cattle breeds’ milk, people use various kinds of milk including plant milk. Take a deeper look at the below list.

  • Dairy Milk
    • Whole milk
    • Skimmed milk
    • Low-fat milk
  • Plant milk
    • Almond milk
    • Coconut milk
    • Soy milk
    • Oat milk

How To Make Milk Foam For Coffee?

what is milk foam in coffee

You can make milk foams in a few ways. It depends on which kind of appliance or device you use for making milk foam. According to the device, we divided it into 4 categories.

  • Use Steam Wand of Espresso Machine
  • Use Milk Frother
  • Use A Whisker
  • Use A shaking method

Whatever process you are using, it is wise to use cold milk to make milk foam. You can use regular-temperature milk instead of colder one. The milk will be heated up automatically if you use a steam wand. In other processes, the milk foam will not be hot. You can warm up milk foams later. Heat them with 60-70 OC (140-158 OF).

Physical And Chemical Changes Of Milk?

Both chemical and physical structures change when you froth milk. It does not matter which process you are using. Changes always happen with external influences. The crucial element of milk is fats and proteins. These 2 elements are responsible for making foams and determining their quality. Let’s see how it changes the milk into foam.

  • At first, the milk you are using is either cold or at room temperature. So, it is in a normal state
  • When you introduce steam or air to milk, it affects the fat structure. With high speed and pressure, it breaks the original formation of fat into small chains of fat globules. At 25 °C (77 °F), the penetrating air spreads under the membrane material. Then, the crystals of fat globules create tiny bubbles of that air
  • The β-casein of protein absorbs the air bubbles while fat chains break down. The petite rise of the temperature starts the foamability characteristic. Micro foams begin to create at this level. You will notice the foam volume increases steadily. The milk temperature is around 40 °C (104 °F)
  • You will see glossy, smooth, and soft-quality micro foams at 60 °C (140 °F). You can use it as steamed milk. You need to foam it for a little bit longer for the milk foam. So, the temperature will rise at the same time. And, it will be more stable in the condition
  • Generally, the half-life indicates the stability of frothed milk. The foams separated into layers quickly after the half-life of the foams. Longer frothing injects more air into the milk and makes the foam dry. If you go beyond 70 °C (158 °F), it starts the dryness period
  • You can froth until it reaches 80 °C (176 °F). Milk foams are dry and do not have enough liquid milk to wet the foams as steamed milk. Milk foam is more stable that does not change in a few hours. So, you can make a bunch of froths at once
  • Do not go over 82 °C (180 °F) anymore if you make milk foams. The milk will scald if the temperature reaches above. The artistic texture will destroy in this phase

So, the milk foam is not bad if you limit your heat and frothing style. It is a product of milk. Hence you can use it without hesitation. Use plant milk if your stomach is sensitive to dairy milk.

Uses Of Milk Foam Except for Coffee

Using milk foam for coffee is a widely accepted norm. Milk foams are a great companion to espresso-based drinks. For example, cappuccino, mocha, and macchiato are always perfect with milk foam. Do you know that you can use milk foams except for coffee?

Yes, you are reading it correctly. Milk foams are not traded only for coffee. It can go well with other types of drinks. Let’s check the list of different drinks.

  • Tea Latte
  • Masala Chai Latte
  • Green Tea
  • Fruit Smoothie
  • Chocolate Shake
  • Ice creams
  • Desserts and much more

What Milk Is Best For Milk Foam?

Milk proteins are good at trapping air inside the milk bubble. Dairy milk is suitable to produce thicker foams than plant milk. As I mentioned a few types of dairy and plant milk, you already got the idea of milk. Nowadays, people prefer plant milk to cattle breeds’ milk. But, fatter and protein make a thicker layer of milk foam. Take a deeper look at the below list.

  • Whole milk produces a thicker foam layer with a rich and flavorful taste
  • Skimmed milk produces dense foams with lots of large air bubbles. It provides a lighter body with a less sweet taste than whole milk
  • Low-fat milk produces thick foams with large air bubbles. It provides a lighter body and a less flavorful taste
  • Almond milk produces medium foams with large air bubbles. It provides a lighter body and a flavorful taste
  • Soy milk produces medium foams with large air bubbles. It provides a lighter body and a flavorful taste but is not as sweet as dairy
  • Oat milk produces medium foams with large air bubbles. Similar to Soy milk, it provides a lighter body and a flavorful taste. But is not as sweet as dairy options

Importance Of Milk Foam

what is the purpose of foam in coffee

Do you know the importance of milk foam in your drinks? Most of the people answered that it needs for making different textures. Maybe you answered the same. Yes, you are right. But, there are more reasons to explain if I talked about the importance of milk foam. Drinking milk foam is not a loss at all.

  • Milk foams enhance the texture of your drinks. Significantly, when you mix it with espresso
  • You can do different arts on it as latte art
  • It makes the drinks sweeter. So, you do not need extra sugar
  • It has health benefits. The reason is you use only milk as the ingredient of milk foam
  • Milk foams contain the milk fat and proteins of the milk you used. It can cover the needs of milk proteins and fat in your body

If you are concerned about dairy products, you can try plant milk. If you are sensitive to dairy products, you can skip them and try sugar-based creamer.


What is micro-foam milk?

Micro-foam milk usually consists of tiny air bubbles. If you froth the milk with less air, you will get micro-foams. Generally, steamed milk is known as micro-foam as it contains tiny bubbles.

Is milk foam healthy?

Milk foams are healthy as milk. It contains milk fats and proteins of milk that you use for foaming. If you frothed for longer, the fat and protein structure breaks down. In that case, the foam does not contain milk fat.

What is milk foam tea?

Milk foam teas are green tea that is usually topped with milk foam. It is a different style of milk foam with a taste of salty sweetness. It switches from its original one when mixing the milk foam with the green tea.

What does milk foam taste like?

Milk foam tastes like dry and airy than the milk itself. It tastes sweet, creamier, and mouth-feel if you use whole milk. The foam tastes less rich and sweet if you use low-fat and skimmed milk. Plant milk makes lighter and less rich milk foams than dairy milk.

What is the purpose of milk foam?

The principal purpose of milk foam is to enhance the texture of coffee drinks and other beverages. It also adds a sweet and creamier taste to the quenchers. You need milk foam to do latte and cappuccino art.


As you reached the last section of the article, I assume that you read the explanation. History of the milk foam, making process, milk types, and more. You may think all of this section is not important. But, once you read, you will know the reasons. People always get confused between milk foam and steamed milk. Sometimes people refer to all of them as frothed milk. As I track down and explain everything, you never be confused at the end. You also know the importance of milk foam in your drinks. So, enjoy your cup of joe with milk foam.

Enjoy Your Coffee!

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