Can you suggest a steam-powered milk frothing machine?
December 11, 2007 4:04 AM   Subscribe

My friend wants to buy a steam milk frother as a gift for his mother. The tricky part? She drinks only instant coffee, so doesn't require an espresso machine, JUST the milk frother. Does such an appliance exist, and if so, can it be purchased for under £80?

Bonus information: my friend's mother already has one of those little Turkish milk jugs in which you heat milk over the stove, as well as one of those little whizzy milk frothers that aerate the milk (they're rubbish). She doesn't want either of these - she's after, essentially, half an espresso machine. He's happy to get a small espresso machine if that's the best solution, but I understand that the smaller domestic espresso machines sometimes don't create enough steam pressure to froth milk as well as one might like.

Can anyone suggest a product? We're in London and the budget is £80.
posted by hot soup girl to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Bodum Milk Frother
posted by fallenposters at 4:07 AM on December 11, 2007

Thanks for the suggestion, fallenposters. However those Bodum frothers work by aerating the milk; we're looking for a device that will frothe the milk with pressurised steam, as with a cappucino machine.
posted by hot soup girl at 4:10 AM on December 11, 2007

I gave one of these to my mum in about 1990 or so, it was an electric boiling chamber with a standard milk frother spout, did a good job (made for ridiculously good milo). I think it was called a Mr Cappuccino, but I can't find anything resembling it on google.

I found this thing, which might meet your critera, but isn't what I'm talking about.
posted by The Monkey at 4:31 AM on December 11, 2007

We use a stovetop milk steamer. It is excellent, reliable, and simple to use. It creates plenty of steam pressure. These are both from US sellers, but it should give you a start, anyhow: 1, 2.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:42 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I understand that the smaller domestic espresso machines sometimes don't create enough steam pressure to froth milk as well as one might like.

They do provide enough pressure, but they don't provide a great finish on the milk - you tend to get a stiff, dry, cardboardy foam from cheaper machines, rather than a nice, silky, sweet-tasting microfoam. Having said that, if she's drinking instant coffee, how far is she really likely to want to take it? Those stove-top units look like a good bet if you can find them in the UK, but otherwise I'd be inclined to just get a cheapo steam espresso machine - they make crap coffee, but I'm sure that the milk frother will be adequate for purpose. The used to run to just under £40 many years ago - might be cheaper now.

BTW - foaming milk for espresso in the UK is always a bit hit and miss, particularly at this time of year. People commonly report that they can't get proper microfoam in winter (this has been attributed to winter feed for the dairy cattle, but I have no idea if that's true). I've experienced this myself. Some milk seems to work out better than others. You might end up finding that you get better foam from the aeration stick on Christmas morning, than from whatever steaming device you buy.
posted by bifter at 4:51 AM on December 11, 2007

There is this, the Capresso "FrothXpress" on the U.S. side of, but at least it might give you a brand name to look for. I don't think I'd pay $100 for it but at least Amazon gives a better price (in the States at least).
posted by worker_bee at 5:29 AM on December 11, 2007

Thanks, everyone! That FrothXpress one looks great, but I can't see it for sale on any UK website. Same for the stovetop milk steamers. How odd!
posted by hot soup girl at 6:28 AM on December 11, 2007

Can you get the Nespresso Aeroccino there? My sister uses and loves it, and I think Nespresso stuff is available in Europe, though I'm not sure.
posted by The Bellman at 7:25 AM on December 11, 2007

Sorry, not I misread. The Nespresso uses air, not steam.
posted by The Bellman at 7:30 AM on December 11, 2007

I have one of these stovetop steamers, and love it.
posted by alkupe at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2007

If it wouldn't take too long to ship, with the exchange rate what it is, it might even make sense to order something from the US.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2007

The Bialetti Mukka Express uses steam to frothe the milk. Just put instant coffee in the coffee basket insted of regular espresso coffee.
posted by iviken at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2007

bifter, you can get decent and even exemplary microfoam with a cheap steam "espresso" machine. I've done it with an old Krups steam toy and a newer Krups Novo, which is a pump machine but very low end. The principle behind the steam delivery is basically the same for a $30 Salton espresso machine as it is for a $20,000 Synesso Cyncra. The steam at the top of the boiler is bled off to steam milk. If OP's friend's mom doesn't want to use the Salton to make the very poor espresso that a steam machine will make, the she'll have a huge amount of steam to play with.

My Novo would take at least twice as long to steam about 6oz of milk as it now takes me for my Elektra Microcasa a Leva (which cost 10 times as much) and my EMCaL takes at least twice as long as my favourite local caffe's La Marzocco FB-80, but all of them work the same basic way.

My suggestion is to get a cheap, steam (not pump) based espresso machine and use it to STEAM milk. Some of the suggestions on here don't utilize steam and only produce overstretched crap that is akin to what one finds at the "cappuccinos" at Starbucks.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2007

« Older Subwoofer: To scrap or not to scrap?   |   Help me hire a stripper for my friend's... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.