Handheld Vs Automatic Frother: Which Is Better For Your Latte?

Whether you're conscious of it or not, texture is essential in determining if you like or dislike a food. For instance, the difference between milk and a milkshake is that thick, creamy consistency. Sweetness is a factor, as well. If you ordered a milkshake at an ice cream parlor and received a watery beverage, you might never return, or, at the very least, never order a milkshake there again. Similarly, if you order a latte and it comes without that tantalizingly thin layer of frothy goodness on top, is it even a latte?

Frothed milk is a prime component of the latte. While frothed milk isn't hard to grasp — it's just aerated milk — getting the perfect texture can be challenging. It can elevate your beverage to new heights. The best frothed milk has tiny visible bubbles of a consistent size that produce an irresistible silky texture. The foam should be light but also firm enough to hold its shape. While the resulting texture depends on the type of milk and whether or not you heat it, how the milk is aerated is also a factor. So, is it better to use a handheld frother or an automatic frother? The answer depends on which is more important to you, simplicity or convenience.

Benefits of a handheld milk frother

A handheld milk frother is any tool that you hold in your hand and use to aerate milk. Technically, blowing bubbles with a straw gets the job done. However, it gives you large, uneven bubbles filled with carbon dioxide, which don't have a very smooth or silky texture. That's obviously not the best method for getting the job done. You want something that adds precision and consistency to the process.

High-speed whirling blenders powered by batteries do a great job keeping the bubbles tiny and the milk silky smooth. They're affordable, don't require much effort, and can be ready immediately. You turn them on and gently move them up and down to froth. Use fresh whole milk, which offers the best conditions to create that creamy topping. Best of all, handheld milk frothers are easy to clean and do not take up much space in your kitchen.

However, if you don't like cold beverages, heating the milk takes an extra step. While this is not overly complicated, it does create a little more work, and frothing by hand allows room for human inconsistencies. Plus, you can only froth small amounts of milk at a time.

Advantages of automatic frothers

An automatic milk frother is an appliance that automates the milk frothing process. It is a standalone electric carafe that vaguely resembles a blender with a large thermos for a blending jar. To use an automatic milk frother, add the milk to the container, select the type of foam you want (if this feature is available), and press a button. The best automatic milk frother will heat your milk to the desired temperature and mix it to create a silky microfoam for your latte or other favorite beverage.

If you are considering an automatic milk frother, four benefits make choosing this appliance a wise decision. The first is convenience. It heats and foams in one step. Second, you can make more frothy milk. Third, an automatic milk frother produces more consistent results. And fourth, you can press the button and walk away, allowing you to multitask.

On the downside, this is a countertop appliance. You can't just rinse it off and slip it in a drawer when it is not in use. It takes up more counter and storage space. Also, you typically need an external power source to run an automatic milk frother, and its larger size makes it tough to bring along when traveling. Finally, an automatic milk frother with a built-in steamer is typically more expensive than a handheld model.