The Best Milk for Frothing Coffee (Dairy & Non-Dairy)

When it comes to my afternoon coffee, I would always prefer a frothy, rich, and creamy one to a strong black. The bittersweet taste of coffee combined with the creaminess of milk is my definition of perfection.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves the delicious taste of cappuccino, flat white, and lattes and the Instagram-worthy art on top of each cup.

But whatever type of version of creamy coffee you prefer, the frothed milk on top of it can make or break the coffee experience. This begs the question — what is the best milk for frothing coffee?

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coffee with frothed milk
The best milk for frothing coffee makes your cup rich.

The Best Milk For Frothing Coffee(And Making Your Coffee Richer)

One of the primary ingredients for different coffee varieties is milk. However, the milk composition you will use defines the amount of froth it will make.

Every kind of milk is not created equal. One type of milk may be easy to whip up, while others may take more time to create foam.

Over here, we’ll focus on the two main types of milk — dairy and non-dairy. I will also recommend some of the best milk you can get if you want to make your own café au lait.

What Makes Milk Froth?

foamy milk
The best milk for frothing coffee should contain high amounts of protein.

Milk usually contains fat, lactose, and protein. Fat is responsible for making the milk rich and creamy.

The more fat there is, the creamier the milk will be. But too much fat content in milk prevents air bubbles from holding their shape.

On the other hand, lactose gives the milk a hint of sweetness.

Protein makes milk froth, so the best milk for frothing coffee should be high in protein. While every milk’s protein structure is different, they have the same stability when heated at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is essential not to overheat the milk if you want to froth it. The reason is that too much heat clumps the protein together, preventing it from creating stable microbubbles.

Therefore, the best milk for frothing coffee should contain a balance of lactose, protein, and fat.

Dairy Milk For Frothing

Dairy milk is generally any milk produced by animals. It is typically high in protein, making it easy to froth.

The fat content of dairy milk is also enough to prevent the foam from drying without destabilizing it.

Best Dairy Milk For Frothing

Dairy milk is the best milk for frothing coffee.

Whole Milk

The best milk for frothing coffee in the dairy category is whole milk. It contains about 8 grams of protein, allowing it to produce the right amount and texture of the foam.

Whole milk also contains 3.5 percent fat. The high-fat content causes whole milk to take more time to whip up, so patience is a requirement when frothing it.

But once you get the right froth, you can enjoy the creaminess and richness that whole milk can add to your coffee.

When talking about the best whole milk, the Organic Valley Ultra Pasteurized Organic Whole Milk does not disappoint. With 8 grams each of protein and fat per serving, it creates the perfect froth for your coffee.

This milk is also a great source of calcium and phosphorus.

2% Milk

Two percent milk is similar to whole milk, only that it has less fat content. Regular daily milk has 3.5 percent fat, while 2% milk only has two percent, hence the name.

The reduced fat content of this milk makes it easy to whip up. Two percent milk lets you enjoy rich and decadent froth without spending as much time as frothing whole milk.

The Horizon Organic 2% Reduced Fat Milk is the best milk for frothing. It contains DHA Omega-3, making it delicious and healthy.

Non-Dairy Milk For Frothing

a glass of coffee with foamy milk
Non-dairy milk is low in protein, making it hard to froth.

Non-dairy milk is low in protein, making it more difficult to froth. But this fact does not mean that you can only find the best milk for frothing coffee in dairy milk types.

Dairy-free milk types come from plants, and their protein content is insufficient to stabilize the air bubbles you make when frothing.

Some non-dairy milk manufacturers add gellan as stabilizing ingredient. Gellan gum is a food additive that bonds with the calcium in non-dairy milk.

The bond between gellan and calcium helps protein hold the walls of microbubbles, resulting in stable foam. That said, the best milk for frothing coffee in the dairy-free category is the one that contains gellan.

There are also dairy-free milk types that are frothable even without gellan. They take longer to produce foam, but they can elevate your coffee’s texture and taste.

Best Non-Dairy Milk For Frothing

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The best non-dairy milk for frothing coffee usually contains gellan gum.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk contains low amounts of protein, making it difficult to whip up without gellan gum. But it has a lot of fat that stabilizes the microbubbles you produce when frothing.

You can make your coconut milk thick and velvety by steaming it using an espresso machine. If you cannot get your hand on an espresso machine, warm the milk over the stovetop before frothing it.

For coconut milk that goes well with coffee, I recommend the 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Coconut Milk. It contains gellan gum and calcium carbonate, so you can achieve a rich foam like the one you get in whole milk.

While this milk is plant-based, it still contains vitamins A, D2, and B12 that let you enjoy a healthy and hearty coffee.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is probably the best dairy milk alternative. It contains the right protein-to-fat ratio, allowing you to whip it up easily.

This dairy-free milk also has a similar texture to frothed whole milk. The characteristics of oat milk make it the best milk for frothing coffee for non-dairy consumers.

If you are looking for oat milk that blends well with coffee, the Califia Farms Barista Blend Oat Milk is a perfect choice. Unlike much plant-based milk, it does not need gellan to froth smoothly.

This oat milk also has a hint of sweetness, making morning coffees extra delicious.

The Takeaway

Dairy-free or not, the best milk for frothing coffee should make your coffee rich and velvety. There are many types of milk that you can use for your coffee, so it is up to you which one you want to try.

Regardless of the milk type, remember that whipping up milk and making a foam has science behind it. You might not create the best foam the first time, but practice will give you your desired result.

If you are unsure what coffee you want to pair with your milk, check out our article about organic light roast coffees!