What Is Steamed Milk In Coffee?

Steamed milk is a type of milk that has been heated to a point just below boiling. This is usually done with a steam wand, which is an attachment for most home espresso machines. The steamed milk is then poured into the coffee and served.

It is tough to find a person who doesn’t like to drink a latte or cappuccino. In America, people drink over 400 million cups of coffee every day. You might say that you are a black coffee lover. But, this type of people will not cross 35%. Coffee and milk – an unbeatable duo in the world of coffee. Instead of using plain milk, espresso combines well with steamed milk or frothed milk. Do you know what is steamed milk?

Steam milk is bubbled milk that produces passing steam through the milk. It is one of the aerating processes to produce foams in milk. You will know more as you pass each section of this article.

What Is Steamed Milk?

The name steamed milk comes from the definition of this milk. The definition is passing steam through the milk so that air can mix with it. Milk fat expands as the air pushes into the milk with high pressure. But, the milk proteins hold these tiny air bubbles and keep them stable. At the same, the lactose of the milk increases the sweetness. So the foam prepared with this process is called steamed milk.

Is it enough to know what is steamed milk? You may think yes. But, I would like to add some more to your knowledge basket. It assumes that steamed milk was invented in the early 19th century. It is the time when the latte and cappuccino were introduced. The popularity of milk-based espresso drinks was high. Steamed milk is also called micro foams because of its tiny air bubbles. There are a few other names velvet milk, micro-bubbles, and more.

The texture of steamed milk is soft and sticky, similar to melted marshmallows. It makes a shiny and slightly thin layer. It is not thicker than foamed milk. Except for Latté, you can put micro-foams in Latté-macchiato, Cortado, flat white, and other espresso drinks.

How Do You Make Steamed Milk

It is always easy to make steamed milk. But, you need some basic knowledge and skills to operate milk. There are 2 ways to make steamed milk. 

  • Using the steam wand of the espresso machine
  • Without using the steam wand

An alternative to the steam wand process is not adequate to produce micro foams. But, some techniques of making steamed milk are way good enough. Let’s talk about the making process of steamed milk.

Using A Steam Wand

It is the easiest and quickest way to use a steam wand directly to produce micro foams. Steam wand lets baristas control the foam volume while steaming. Similarly, the espresso machine will let you control the foaming volume at home from your observation. The equipment you need for preparing steamed milk is,

  • The required amount of milk
  • A steam wand of an espresso machine
  • A milk pitcher
  • A kitchen towel
  • A kitchen thermometer (optional)

The process you should follow to prepare steamed milk is,

  • Switch on the steam wand and let go of steams for a few seconds
  • Pour the required amount of milk into the pitcher and set it at an angle with a steam wand
  • Position the steam wand under the surface of the milk and switch it on again the steam wand
  • Introduced a slight amount of air into the milk by lowering the pitcher. Please, do not do it for a lengthier period
  • Now, raise the pitcher to the earlier position. So, the tip of the steam wand is under the milk
  • Continuously check the temperature of the milk pitcher. The temperature will be between 60-66 OC (140-150 OF). You can use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature
  • You may use your hand instead of a thermometer. Steam the milk as long as you can touch the pitcher
  • Switch off the steam wind when you reach the required temperature
  • Put the pitcher down and clean the outer side of the steam wand with the kitchen towel. Pass the steam for a few moments to cleanse the inside of the steam wand

Not Using A Steam Wand

It takes a long time to make steamed milk without using the steam wand. You can try using a hand-held electric frother to make micro foams. The product you got from this is not the same as a steam wand. But, it can replace the original one on a commercial platform. Let’s give it a try, friend!

Check the equipment you need to make the steamed milk using a hand-held electric frother.

  • The required amount of milk
  • A pitcher or milk jar
  • A hand-held electric frother
  • A pan with water (optional)
  • A heat source (optional)

Please follow the below steps so that your micro-foam is close enough to the original one.

  • Put the required amount of milk into the pitcher or milk jar. Usually, you can fill up the pitcher about halfway with milk. Also, be careful not to froth excess amount milk than you need
  • Place the pitcher on the pan to warm up the milk. Steamed milk needs to warm up in its making process
  • Now, switch on the hand-held electric frother and put it into the milk
  • Hold the frother at an angle with the milk surface. So, it can inject extra air into the milk. Do this step only for a few seconds
  • Now, dip the frother under the surface of the milk. Please, make sure you will not inject extra air in this step
  • Keep track of the size of the bubbles. The tiny air bubbles will increase in number instead of large bubbles
  • Switch off the hand-held electric frother when the foam gets nearly uniform
  • Here you go! Your micro-foam is ready to put on the espresso. It’s your time to do some art

Among lots of methods available, all are not acceptable to perform accurately. Still, some are acceptable in some places as non-commercial. So, the permitted methods include only,

  • Whisking
  • Shaking
  • Hand pumping

These processes are so familiar for non-commercial purposes. I mean you can use these methods at home. You can use these as alternatives to the steam wand method. But, you cannot use these in cafes to sell coffee. Coffee lovers always care about quality.

Uses Of Steamed Milk Except for Coffee

Unlike frothed milk or foamed milk, steamed milk is less stiff and thinner in the layer. There is a good amount of milk with micro-foams in the steamed milk. So, it is a rich milk product than the other foams. After pouring the steamed milk into a beverage, you will only see a thin layer of micro-foams. The rest of the milk mixes with the beverage and makes sweeter drinks. You can use steamed milk in any beverage which makes a perfect combo. For example,

  • Latte
  • Flat white
  • Cortado
  • Latte-macchiato
  • Teas
  • Milkshakes
  • Hot chocolates

A thin layer of micro-foams is visible above these beverages. Even you can use steamed milk in any other espresso drink. It will change the texture as well as the taste of your drink. Sometimes putting steamed milk instead of whole milk works great. It brings a different texture to those beverages.

What Milk Is Best For Steaming?

coffee and steamed milk

Steamed milk is a perfect ingredient to pair with many foods. Steamed milk is a state of milk where a steam wand creates microscopic bubbles. These bubbles submerge into the milk and trap in the milk fat. The milk protein helps to stabilize the structure of the bubble. According to these characteristics, whole milk suites best for steaming milk. Whole milk is rich in high-profile milk fats and proteins. You can use skimmed or low-fat milk if you do not like rich milk.

But you can also use other types of milk. These are plant milk. Though it has a low profile of fats and proteins still matches in every case. Steaming milk plant milk is good enough for serving beverages. For example,

  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Oat milk
  • Coconut milk

Health Values Of Steamed Milk

It is common to ask whether steamed milk is healthier or not. Of course, it has health values. But, the point is, are you in need of milked-based nutrition? Let’s check what kind of health value steamed milk has.

  • Steamed milk uses whole milk. So, all the nutrition of whole milk is present in it. Whole milk is beneficial for young people to build their bodies. Plant milk can help you a lot too!
  • The human body needs lots of proteins every day. Steamed milk can cover this demand with a cup of coffee
  • Drinking milk helps to keep your bones healthy. It recovers the decay of bones
  • It is a source of calcium. So, consuming it will not be bad at all
  • Milk is rich in vitamins and minerals. Steamed milk carries it in your cups
  • Steamed milk has no extra sugar in its making process. So, your cups are sugar-free
  • It is healthier than whipped cream. So, you can alternate desserts with steamed milk

If your stomach is weak in terms of lactose, then you can skip dairy milk and try plant milk.


How much-steamed milk is in a latte?

Latte prepares with standard 1 shot of espresso and double of steamed milk. The thickness of the micro-foam layer does not go beyond half an inch or 12 mm on the top. If it does, that one would be going to call cappuccino.

Is steamed milk the same as boiled milk?

No, steamed milk is not the same as boiled milk. Boiled milk is high-temperature milk. And steamed milk contains a thin layer of micro-bubbles on the top. These bubbles create while introducing steam to milk under high pressure.

Is steamed milk bad for you?

When you steam, the fat structure of milk changes and captures the tiny bubbles. As the temperature increases gradually, the breaking of the construction continues. Thus, steaming is a quick process and could not make milk changes a lot. So, steamed milk is not bad for your health.

Can you put steamed milk in the fridge?

Yes, you can put steamed milk in the fridge. But, the micro-foams are easily separated into layers as time goes by. Micro-foams are not too stiff as foamed milk or whipped creams. As a result, the foam volume reduces so quickly.

How long should you steam milk for coffee?

The process of steaming milk is not taking much time to make. It takes 20-30 seconds if you use the steam wand. The making process is related to the amount of volume and temperature.

What temp do you steam milk for a latte?

The temperature of the steamed milk process will be between 60-70 degree Celsius (140-158 degrees Fahrenheit). If you overheat the milk or cross the temperature limit, the milk will lose its consistency.


In the end, you can make a perfect cup of latte or other milk-based espresso drinks. The only thing you need is a steam wand, milk, and skill with adherence. You will not become a professional barista overnight. But, your regular practice and dedication will make you one. You can make steamed milk as an expert with a kitchen utensil, like a hand-held frother. So, why are you waiting? Just grab the ingredients and start making your drinks.

Cheers! Enjoy your first latte cup.

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