Milk Madness – Tips for perfecting frothy milk

Australians are known to be coffee snobs, turning up our noses if the beans aren’t to a high grade or there is lack of frothy milk. Although nothing is critiqued quite like the milk, which makes up the body of any smooth coffee. Burnt milk, warm milk or too much milk – it’s hard to navigate your way through the dairy dilemma and come out the other end with a coffee worth the $5 price tag. If your milk is more fail than froth, follow these tips to get the creamiest milk into your morning and afternoon coffee.

The noises to listen out for

The smell of coffee has a positive effect on us all, but so do the noises we associate with coffee. Nothing welcomes you to a cafe like the squeals and bubbles of milk being frothed. But before you chalk those cries in the success column, you may be surprised to know that some of these noises may be a cry against your milk. Start listening to your latte, and identify what noises signify a smooth coffee. When you start on the milk you will hear the initial bubble and squeak of the steam exiting the frother, you will then want to transition to a purring sound as the milk circles as it heats. That shrill squealing will tell you that the frother is not fully submerged or working the milk in the right direction. From there you can adjust your movements until you hear that creamy purr.

The characteristics to look for

Pouring frothy milk


Initially, you may over or under pour your milk, but this is something you will perfect over time. When you have your milk in the steel jug, insert the milk frother on an angle so that the head of the frother is submerged in the milk. You can then begin gently and slowly dipping the frother up and down until you notice the milk moving in a circle. When you notice the circular motion, hold it in place until the milk thickens up and grows warmer. As the milk swirls, it will start to thicken and grow pearlier – which means you are on the right track. When the frother is turned off you can stamp the coffee twice on your table to remove the bubbles. As you pour the milk into your coffee, you may want to use a spoon to hold back some of the froth to begin with so you get that creamy milk in.

The temperature to feel

The ideal temperature of your coffee will depend entirely on your preferences or those who are receiving the coffee. A good rule of thumb is holding your fingers to the steel milk jug and holding them for three seconds. If you cannot touch the steel for another second, you have the right temperature. Any less and you may have burnt the coffee, any more and you may only have warmed the milk.


Make a coffee that is worthy of the baristas found in Melbourne’s laneways, starting with perfecting your milk. You won’t get it right every time at the start, but persevere and continue to froth until your coffees thicken up to a smooth texture and taste.

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