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Oct 3, 2006 08:53 PM

Steamed milk without an espresso machine?

The turn in the weather has me craving all sort of steamed milk drinks: matcha with steamed milk, hot chocolate, steamed milk with green or black tea, steamed milk with torani syrups, cafe au lait, the list is endless.

The thing is, I don't need or want an espresso machine. Most of the steamed milk drinks I like don't even involve espresso.

Do the stovetop milk steamers work? Or is there another alternative?

I've had a wand like this, and it just doesn't do a good enough job:

I don't think a frother like this will be good enough either, since I didn't like the wand:

Maybe this?

The one I'm interested in looks like a Bialetti stovetop espresso maker, but has a wand for steaming milk. Has anyone tried it?

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  1. We have a Bodum wand frother (it's got a circular whisk-type thing on the bottom which might work better than the wand you link to). I love it and think it works perfectly for my taste. Just pour a little milk in your mug, warm it in the microwave and froth away. And I like a lot of froth. The second frother you link to is similar to one I have tried. It was a major pain and took so long to froth that it was impossible to keep the milk warm, plus the frothing contraption on ours (Bodum, I think) broke. Not a good gadget, IMO. I can fully recommend the Bodum wand if you decide to give that type another try.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Procrastibaker

      Do you froth the milk after it's been warmed, or do you froth it and then warm? I've tried both methods with varying degrees of success. I also don't own a microwave, but I can heat milk on the stove. Maybe I'll give Bodum's wand a try; I tried a cheaper version and wasn't happy with it.

      1. re: Pei

        I heat it before, but not for very long-- maybe 20 seconds. We just got a microwave after a decade or so without (small kitchens-- didn't seem worth the space); about the only thing I use it for is warming milk and/or coffee and melting butter. I tried foaming with cold milk and it didn't work well, but based on the poster below's comments on McGee I probably should try again...Oh, and I use 2% Let me know if you try the Bodum-- hope you like it!

    2. This device makes some of the best foam I've ever tasted, and it is effortless to use. It is not inexpensive, but if you're serious about foam, this is your machine.

      6 Replies
      1. re: btnfood

        The video demo on this site is great! Is it available in the US? My very low tech, cheap frothing device is a wire whip. I heat my milk in the microwave for 50 minutes, then whip the heck out of it before I pour in the coffee. It is not a firm foam, but at least it gets me out of the house in the morning.

        1. re: Jane917

          I got to see this item at a trade show a few months ago. I was told that it's available here in the U.S. through the Nespresso website and their boutiques.

          1. re: Jane917

            You must mean 50 seconds, not minutes, in the microwave.

          2. re: btnfood

            I have read on some of the cooking blogs that the aeroccino is the best at frothing milk. btnfood - you are right - cheap it is not - around $81. Williams Sonoma is supposed to have this in stock this month. I plan on going to check it out and have them demo one for me.

            1. re: btnfood

              awesome machine... just got it and cant stop making coffee to mix with the wonderful foam...

            2. Before I bought an espresso machine (for espresso), I had good success getting hot, frothed milk without any fancy equipment. Technique was key to success. One disclaimer: the froth I made was not microfoam which I can get using a steamer.

              I highly recommend Harold McGee's segment on milk foams to get some intuition on technique, but here's the gist:
              1. whey proteins stabilize the foam, and since most reduced-fat milks are fortified with protein, go with this if you're looking for more foam (although I usually use whole milk for better flavor)
              2. hot milk doesn't hold foam well so be careful not to overheat.

              McGee has a general "recipe" for foaming milk with out steam.
              I just tried a version of it -- 1/2 cup 2% cold milk in a 1 c glass jar, shake hard til volume doubles (30 sec), microwave for 30" et voila! beautiful, foamy steamed milk. Out of curiosity, I tried another 30" of heating and the foam bubbled out and collapsed... so a larger jar is recommended just in case!

              To make a flavored drink with this, try: 1 part warm frothy milk and carefuly stir in 1 part hot double concentrated milky beverage (like hot chocolate).

              Off to clean my microwave!

              1. Thanks for the responses, everyone!

                I think what I might actually do is get a cheap espresso machine--I'm eyeing the Mr. Coffee ECM line, around $30 at Target. I figure the stovetop Bialetti milk steamer I used to see was $50, a lot of these Bodum gadgets are $20, so I might as well give the $30 machine a shot.

                I'll report back after the shopping's done! Definitely going somewhere I can return it if I hate it...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Pei

                  If you haven't already bought a machine, you might see if you can find this Mr. Coffee pump espresso maker. It's a little more than the one you're looking at, but the pump makes a big difference in terms of getting good steamed milk. I bought mine about 2-3 years ago at Fry's for around $60 (despite the description, I've always used loose grounds, not a pod).


                  1. re: Pei

                    Oh, please don't! I was so disappointed with my cheap machine. I complained every time I used it and ended up with a quality one for Christmas. Worth the money for a good one if you want good drinks. Course, you posted this quite awhile ago... What did you end up doing?

                    1. re: oceanwave76

                      Long-belated update: I used a friend's cheap Krups for awhile, realized it was piece of ****, and held out for a real espresso machine. This year was the magical year, and I now own a Gaggia Classic! for $312 all inclusive.

                      I spent an additional $50 or so on accessories like a better tamper, a pitcher, some espresso cups, and a bag of beans, and I'm good to go. I've been getting GREAT espresso using the Gaggia paired with a Hario manual ceramic conical burr grinder, and the milk is getting to be pretty good with some practice!! Thanks for checking in!

                  2. I bought a $29 smoothie maker from Target. It's basically a plastic bowl blender with a tap at the bottom. They added a sort of "musher" that you can insert in the top opening, after you twist the cap, to mush ice and fruit around. It makes great smoothies of all kinds and is powerful enough to crush ice. But what I like about it is I can add milk, non fat milk, hot or cold, and whiz it into a froth like you wouldn't believe and then let the proper amount out the tap at the bottom for my concentrated coffee made by my AeroPress. With non fat milk, porbably because of the milk solids, it makes a great frothy batch for a really big cup of coffee. So it didn't cost much, makes frothed milk (and soy milk by the way) and makes shakes and smoothies of all kinds. Great for hot chocolate too, frothing Mexican style up like you wouldn't believe. Look for one at Target - this is what it looks like on Amazon, althought it isn't available -

                    Seems to be avilable here -

                    Hope this helps.