The Best Milk Frothers for Lattes, Cold Brew, and More

Bring the coffee shop experience to your morning coffee routine
An array of milk frothers on a kitchen countertop.
Photo by Travis Rainey

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Milk frothers are a niche product; there’s a pretty small list of tasks they can help you complete. The best milk frother for many people may actually be no milk frother at all. If you’re like, “Yeah, I agree with that! I like my morning coffee from my $20 coffee maker,” first, how did you get here? Second, this article is not for you.

But even though they have a narrow set of functions, they perform those functions very well. Milk frothers are what you need for coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and flat whites. Of course, you can always spend a daily penance at the nearest third-wave coffee shop, but the true home baristas will see the benefits of having a frother on hand—even those of you with espresso machines equipped with steaming wands.

We tested 10 different gadgets, and ultimately came down to two: The Nespresso Aeroccino 4 for a fully automatic milk frother, and the Ninja milk frother, for a cheap, space-saving manual pick for people who like a foamy topper for their cold brew.

Ninja Coffee Bar Easy Milk Frother

For more on why those are our top picks and the rundown on the rest of the frothers, keep reading. 

Table of contents

The best manual milk frother: Ninja manual milk frother
The best milk frother and milk steamer: The Aeroccino 4
How we tested
What we looked for
Others we tested

The best manual milk frother: Ninja manual milk frother

For a straightforward, get-the-job-done milk frothing option, the Ninja came out on top. Yes, even when placed up against all those battery-operated frothers.

You may look at it and go, “isn’t that just a French press?” Yes, but no. A normal French press actually does a fine job at frothing milk, as I explored here. The problem is that the plunger in a French press doesn’t typically reach the bottom of the glass pot, which means you have to use 8 oz. of milk to actually froth it. The Ninja has the same basic pieces as a French press, but it’s smaller (about the size of a coffee cup) and narrower, and the plunger goes all the way down. This allows you to make a single serving of foam if you so choose, and it also does it extremely fast. Around 10–12 vigorous plunges will result in velvety, moundable milk foam in a matter of seconds. If you want something to froth milk, but don’t like the idea of adding another electric appliance to your kitchen, and don’t want something that will take up a lot of space, this is a great choice, as you can shove this in the cabinet with your mugs and no one’s the wiser.

What we didn’t like about the Ninja milk frother

There’s nothing fancy here; it doesn’t steam milk or anything like that. Some might argue that this frother is less versatile than say, an electric whisk. That may be true, but seeing that the plunger design froths much faster and requires no batteries, we think it’s the better tool for this job specifically.

Ninja Coffee Bar Easy Milk Frother

Style: Manual
Size: 3x3x8 inches
Material: Glass

The best milk frother and milk steamer: The Aeroccino 4

The Nespresso Aeroccino is an appliance for people who are particular about their coffee drinks. The people who want to make cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites at home every morning of their lives, and enjoy every second of it.

You might think, Why get this if home espresso machines typically include a wand for frothing steamed milk? Well, a contraption like an Aeroccino solves a few problems a steam wand does not. The Aeroccino is incredibly quiet, (steam wands, are famous for their screech), the milk heats to an immediately drinkable temperature (around 140°F), and you can get away with a smaller serving of milk (steam wands need to be properly submerged so that they don’t splatter). 

The Aeroccino has four settings, a steam-only setting for heating milk, a cold foam setting, and latte and cappuccino options as well. For the latte setting, it produces a lofty, and dense, structured foam, while still leaving some milk to incorporate into the rest of the coffee. The foam from the cappuccino setting is lighter with larger bubbles. 

What we didn’t like about the Aeroccino 4

It is not cheap, so we wouldn’t recommend purchasing it unless you really think you would get some good use out of it. Nespresso claims that the main part of the machine, including the frothing mechanism and buttons, is dishwasher-safe, provided your dishwasher temperature never exceeds 154°F. Regardless of what they suggest, we aren’t too keen on putting anything with electrical components in a dishwasher, so we recommend hand-washing it.

Style: Automatic
Size: 7.08"Wx7.08"Dx8.26"H
Material: Stainless steel

Photo by Travis Rainey

How we tested

We tested each manual frother with nonfat milk (the milk best-suited for cold frothing). For the manual frothers, we timed how long it took to get a satisfactory foam, and also paid attention to how much cold milk it needed in order to work. The less milk, the better to make it possible for single-service use.

For the electric milk frothers, we tested each setting and compared foam, the temperature of the milk and the amount of heated, the amount of hot milk left over. We made note of sound and how much control the machine provided for the user. We tested with whole milk, as a nondairy milk will foam depending on the brand and types of additives used, and thus doesn’t provide any additional insights on the performance of these gadgets. If you want to foam with oat milk or almond milk, look for bottles labeled barista blend, which are designed to foam better.

What constitutes quality foam is somewhat subjective, but testers generally agreed on these attributes: Finer bubbles or microfoam were preferable as they has a velvety mouthfeel, a more pleasing look, and slower dissipation compared to foam with larger bubbles. We also felt that thick foam is nice, but shouldn’t be so stiff it forms soft peaks. Not that it’s a particularly bad experience, but machines that did this tended to have no milk left to incorporate into the drink–necessary for lattes and some other coffee drinks.

What we looked for

There are three primary types of milk frothers. There are the multifunctional, countertop electric milk frothers, designed for frothing and heating milk (not for nothing, but they also make amazing hot chocolate). Then there are the electric whisks—handheld and typically battery powered, and popular for blending matcha, mushroom tea, collagen powder, and other powdered drinks. Lastly, there are manual milk frothers, which look a lot like French presses, require no electricity, and are ideal for cold foam. For the purposes of this test, milk frothing capabilities were the primary concern over broad usability.

We considered performance, design, price. Criteria for the manual frothers was simple. We just wanted something that could froth, but for the combination steamers and frothers, we considered the overall design, how well the resulting foam was suited for classic coffee drinks, and whether it was easy or fussy to clean. We also strongly considered size and space. Is it something that requires a great deal of counter space, can it hide away in a drawer or cabinet?

Others we tested

Golde Superwhisk

As far as handheld whisks go, the Golde Superwhisk is quite strong, and is rechargeable rather than battery operated, which set it apart from other electric whisks. While it can froth milk perfectly well, it took 20 more seconds than the Ninja to get to a satisfying foam texture. The mechanism in a fully automatic frother is the same as a handheld electric whisk. The difference is that one you must hold in your hand, and the other does everything with a click of a button. As a result, it’s sort of a jack of all trades and master of none, at least as far as milk frothing is concerned.


Instant Milk Frother

A big plus for the Instant is that it’s much cheaper than other automatic frothers, like the Aeroccino 4, that offer the same range of settings and customization. The foam from this one was the stiffest, which was pleasant to drink, but there was often not very much milk left over to pour into the coffee. For anybody who wants to have fun with 3D latte art, this might come in handy. However, user reviews online claim that the machine is prone to breaking down after a few months.

Instant Pot Milk Frother

Breville Milk Cafe

Like so many Breville appliances, this one is a beautiful stainless-steel piece. It has a removable frothing vessel with an attractive spout, ideal for pouring and cleaning. However, we ultimately decided that a few things made this one difficult to recommend. It is quite the countertop hog, and we found the temperature customization, which you can set to the degree, was an added utility that didn’t seem super necessary, especially because the manual recommended specific temperatures for making different foams anyway. It’s a great tool, but for ease of use and economy of space, we ultimately preferred the Aeroccino 4.

Breville Milk Cafe Milk Frother

Keurig Standalone Frother

This frother was more basic, with just hot and cold settings. There is a newer Keurig frother that has settings more comparable to the others that we will include in the next round of testing.

Keurig Standalone Frother

Bodum Electric Milk Frother

This model had nothing more than an on button, which was somewhat confusing because it starts frothing before heating, which made it generally confusing to use. The foam came out too airy as well.

Bodum Bistro Electric Milk Frother

Bodum Manual Milk Frother

Bodum’s manual frother worked fine, but due to its larger size required more milk than the Ninja, which meant it wasn’t as good for single serving use cases. You might as well just use a French press if you already have one.

Bodum Latteo Manual Milk Frother


The Spinn frother, which you can get as a stand-alone piece or as an addition to the Spinn coffee maker is another single button milk frother, but has three settings: heat and froth, heat only, and froth only for cold foam. Overall, it’s a nice frother that could be improved with the addition of a spout of some sort.

Spinn Milk Frother


This is the cheap, battery-powered frother you’ll recognize from its perpetual sale status on Amazon. You need about 2 minutes of frothing in order to get to the level the Ninja provides in 10 seconds, and these little things aren’t really designed to run for that long, so we don’t recommend using this product for making milk foam—perhaps for mixing matcha or a salad dressing.

Zulay Handheld Milk Frother

The takeaway

For a cheap gadget the size of a cup of coffee and that makes cold foam in a matter of seconds, we say the Ninja manual milk frother is the best choice. For something fully automated and designed for specialty coffee drinks, splurge on the Aeroccino 4.