Want to enjoy almond milk with your espresso drinks? Here’s how!
Love your almond milk or curious about making the change but want to know what does that mean for my favourite coffee!
The good news is, almond milk can quite successfully be substituted for cows milk in making your favourite espresso drinks, as well as in a huge variety of other beverages that call for a frothy milk finish.
We’re going to talk you through here all ins and outs of frothing and steaming almond milk for the best results.
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Do I froth or steam almond milk?
Although the words are often thrown around interchangeably, there’s a subtle difference between milk steaming and milk frothing.
Frothing aerates the milk which creates large foamy bubbles (without heating), whilst steaming milk heats it and releases tiny micro bubbles.
The discernable difference is in the creaminess and texture: frothing will give a more bubbly creamy finish (think cappuccinos) whilst steaming the volume doesn’t increase as much but you still get a layer of foam – how much foam you get depends on your baristas technique and type of coffee you’re aiming for – eg a latte vs a flat white.
So which technique do you use for best results with almond milk? We’re going to describe here the process for both frothing and steaming almond milk with different tools- it’s up to you which coffee beverage you go on to create!
How to froth almond milk
The reason milk is able to froth is the presence of fats and proteins.
Almond milk – like other plant based milk – is basically produced from ground almonds and water, with a few additions to help with the texture, taste and shelf life of the product. Each brand will taste a little different and there will be a big flavour difference between sweetened and unsweetened products.
The mixture remains heavily water based though, therefore is not as easy to froth as cows milk.
That said it can be done! You just need to vary your temperature and technique – and not go in expecting exactly the same results frothing almond milk as cows milk!
Almond milk heating guidance
Note that almond milk does not need to be heated as high as other plant-based milks and animal milks or you risk the milk splitting. General consensus seems to be about 130°F/54°C is sufficiently warm enough for an almond milk.
For this reason, automatic frothers with limited control over temperature are not always your best choice for frothing almond milk – we discuss each type below!
Type of almond milk for frothing
The important thing to bear in mind when choosing an almond milk to froth is that not all almond milks on the supermarket shelf behave the same!
You want to look for an almond milk labelled as “barista”, “barista blend”, or “barista edition”.
These specially prepared almond milks are a little thicker than regular almond milk. They are formulated with stabilisers (and sometimes a heavier concentration of almonds) which allow the almond milk to froth more easily and the foam to hold for longer.
A good example of an almond milk made specifically for frothing is Califia Farm Barista Blend Almondmilk.
Almond milk when heated for coffee drinks can have a slightly bitter finish; even if you normally drink an unsweetened almond milk, a slightly sweeter almond milk could work better in your lattes and cappuccinos.
Frothing tools and techniques for almond milk
You can froth almond milk in a several different ways, with and without a specialised frothing machine. It really depends on your desired texture and how much control you’d like over the process (as well as budget!).
1. Jar method of frothing almond milk
The most basic method of all for frothing almond milk is to pour it into a jar (mason jars work well). Precise measurements are not required, but aim for less than half full so you’ve got some space to froth.
DO NOT pre-heat the milk, this will make it incredibly hot to handle.
Screw your lid on tight and give the jar of almond milk a vigourous shake. It may take a few minutes and a fair bit of elbow grease for a perfect frothy finish.
Place your finished creation in the microwave to heat it up (30 seconds to a minute should be enough) before adding to your shot of espresso.
It can alternatively be heated in saucepan on the stove though this method will take longer.
You can use the same process without heating for an iced coffee beverage, though heating the almond milk is what will help the foam keep it’s form.
2. Frothing almond milk with a standard electric mixer
Using a whisk attachment, you can froth your almond milk using a standard electric mixer.
Pour your almond milk into a microwave safe bowl and heat up, 30 seconds to a minute (depending on your microwave wattage).
Place your whisk on a high setting into the heated almond milk until you’ve got your desired density. Remember not to whisk for too long or you’ll only be left with foam! A good milky coffee only has an element of foam, you still want some warm milk.
Pour your espresso shot and layer the milk on top, holding back the foam until the end to gently place on top.
3. Frothing almond milk with a hand whisk
Don’t have an electric whisk? Not to worry, a little more elbow work but just as above!
Pour your almond milk into a microwave bowl, heat it up then set to whisking with a handheld whisk until you have the desired level of foam before preparing your milky espresso drink.
Alternatively, you can heat your almond milk in a saucepan over a stove and as it warms, begin to whisk your milk for a frothy finish. It can be a little more difficult to control the temperature using this method – it is quite easy to burn almond milk if you go over the recommended temperature.
4. Frothing almond milk with a blender
Similar to the electric whisk and handheld whisk, though not as effective as it does not let in as much air as the other processes we’ve just covered.
Warm up your milk first in any sort of microwave proof cup or bowl, or gently heat your almond milk on a stovetop, then put it into your blender.
Use a slow to medium speed (or some advance blenders even a froth setting or special attachment for whisking rather than blades).
Blend until desired level of foam is achieved and add to your espresso.
5. Frothing almond milk with a handheld milk frother
The most popular method to use if you do not own an espresso machine is a hand held milk frother, specially made for frothing all sorts of milk.
This is the best alternative to a steam wand. Pour your almond milk into a cup, bowl or pitcher and insert your frother tip just below the surface.
Turn your frother on and froth for about 30 seconds, then move the wand up and down for another 30 seconds. to increase the air intake. Swirl around until you have increased the volume and have a silky, frothy finish.
Microwave your foam for 30 seconds to a minute to heat up the milk and stabilise the foam before adding to your espresso.
6. How to froth almond milk with a steaming wand
We’d argue this is still the most effective method for frothing and heating your milk.
You will have the greatest amount of control over your temperature using a manual steaming wand attached to an espresso machine.
Here’s how it works:
- Add cold almond milk straight from the fridge to your steaming pitcher.
- Hold the pitcher at an angle under the steaming wand, just below the surface of the almond milk
- Place the steaming wand tip slightly to the side of the pitcher, then move the pitcher around a little, up and down to induce more air and create larger bubbles.
- If your steaming wand doesn’t have a built in thermometer, use a frothy milk thermometer like this
- When your froth is ready, let it set and pull your espresso shot
- Add your steamed almond milk to your espresso drink – the amount of foam you add will depend which type of espresso drink you are making
Best equipment for steaming almond milk
If budget will allow, we’d go top of the line if you’re a regular almond milk drinker and get an espresso machine that is specifically made to handle different milk temperatures. We’d recommend the De’Longhi ECAM35075SI Dinamica with LatteCrema.
This stunning bench top machine for home use includes 18 pre-programmed espresso drink recipes. The LatteCrema system allows you to set the ideal temperature and texture for your milk – press a button and watch it work it’s frothing magic, perfect for almond milk drinkers.
7. Frothing almond milk with a milk steamer machine
If a top of the range espresso machine feels a little out of range for your occasion almond milk drink at home, then a good alternative to consider is an automated milk steamer and frother.
These machines will take the guess work out of milk steaming and milk frothing for you at the press of a button. Look for machines that allow you to control the temperature. As we mentioned at the start, almond milk does not need to be heated as much as cows milk, and can, in fact, curdle if heated too far.
Steaming your almond milk with an Aerocinno
An Aerocinno is a fully automated steamer that also froths your almond milk – found most commonly attached with a Nespresso style of espresso machine -though can be purchased on their own.
An Aerocinno, like the other varieties of milk steamers and frothers we mention above will allow you to make cold milk foam, hot milk foam and hot milk without the foam (by removing the whisk attachment).
Depending on the freshness and quality of the barista almond milk you are using, you should be able to create an equally frothy foam as you would get using skinny milk in the Aerocinno.
Can you do latte art with almond milk?
Good news if latte art is one of your favourite parts of a latte! Almond milk foam can be used to create fun and creative patterns on your latte.
Don’t expect the same results as a full cream cows milk or half and half, for example, but you can play around with your brands and technique and get a similar result with some practice!
Why drink almond milk?
If you’ve not been sold on the benefits of almond milk yet, here’s a quick fact file on this nutty favourite!
- Almond milk is low in calories – about a third of the calories compared with a cup of whole milk (though do check the labels incase any little extras have been added!)
- Almond milk is naturally rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E
- Unsweetened almond milk is low in calories
- Almond milk contains no lactose, making it a suitable milk replacement for people with lactose intolerance
- Almond milk is often enriched with calcium – vital for building and maintaining strong bones – a great preventative measure against osteoporosis for those who’ve otherwise cut our dairy products
- Almond milk is also often enriched with vitamin D, consumption can help prevent vitamin D deficiency (source)
Other uses for frothed almond milk
In addition to espresso drinks – most commonly lattes and cappuccinos – frothed almond milk could be used mixed with a chai tea latte, or mix with matcha powder for a matcha green tea latte. We like it best in our almond milk bubble tea, have your tried it yet?
Can you froth almond milk creamer?
Another alternative to barista almond milk is almond milk creamer – slightly thicker again as it tends to have coconut cream added. The good news is, along with many other lactose-free and vegan options, creamer can be frothed too! Pop over here to learn more about creamer frothing techniques.
End of the day though, its down to your taste preferences. If you hatted marzipan and the like as a child then almond milk probably isn’t going to be for you!
You may also find oat milk works even better for frothing! So give a few different varieties a try in the search for perfect milk-substitute for a new, healthier you!
The bottom line though, you CAN still enjoy your favourite milky espresso coffees, just expect their will be some subtle texture and flavour differences to adapt to.
Want more coffee ideas?
Learn more about all our favourite brews and get help with deciphering coffee jargon over on the Coffee Connoisseurs section of our website – happy brewing mamas!