Frothing / Foaming Almond Milk

Frothing / Foaming Almond Milk

We’ve made the switch to almond milk and for the most part could not be happier. The biggest challenge so far is finding an almond milk that froths/foams for use in such drinks as a cappuccino. What we want is the thick rich foam that you can just pour (or scoop) into the cup and that holds strong consistency. To make your cappuccino “dryer” you can let the foam sit for an extra minute or two and then scoop it out with a spoon.

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The Foam

The foam is not just a “topper” that covers the coffee. A “topper” is much closer to a latte consisting of mostly steamed milk mixed with espresso and a scoop or two of foam on top. With a cappuccino, it’s a lot of foam infused with a shot or two of espresso. Taking it a step “dryer,” a common variation of the espresso macchiato can be made in the same manner, but using just a scoop or two of foam.

So you are looking for thick rich foam filling most of the drink:

Before adding the espresso:

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After:

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Bubbles or Foam?

Answer: Foam! We are not looking for big soap bubbles here. You want rich small/micro-bubble foam that keeps a pretty strong shape. Notice how after pouring the shot of espresso in the drink below, the foam just has a small crater and keeps its shape. Again, 3/4 of this drink is made up of foam, leaving 1/4 for the shot of espresso and a bit of the steamed milk.

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Iced Variation

Below is a picture of an iced cappuccino. The foam to espresso ratio here is a bit different. This is mostly caused by the ice melting as the hot shot of espresso is poured over it. Also, I use a lot of ice. So the coffee part that you see here is still filled mostly with ice.

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To Shake or Not Shake?

I was surprised at this answer: do not shake. I always figured that foaming milk required agitating it, so there should be no problem with rigorously shaking the carton before pouring it in the frother. Time and time again, this only caused the foam bubbles to be larger than what we were aiming for.

What Brands are the Best?

Below is a list of almond milk brands and the quality of foam that we’ve achieved:

Brand Foam Quality Taste Overall Notes
Almond Breeze* Good-ish Good (Bitter) Good It initially foams really well, but then seems to dry/drain out within a few minutes.
Lucerne Non-GMO Almond Milk Poor Fair Poor Consistently yields large foam bubbles or just nothing at all. This is the type that looks like dish soap bubbles and seems to almost disappear when you spoon it out.
Silk Almond Milk Original Fair Good Fair Tends to be only big bubbles or just a bunch of foam that collapses (like soap bubbles). Every now and then it seemed to work okay but was not consistent. The benefit is that you can find it just about everywhere.
Trader Joe’s Almond Milk (Pre-2013) Good Good Good Why did they change?
Trader Joe’s Almond Milk (Jan/Feb 2013) Fair/mixed Good Fair Prior to 2013, Trader Joe’s Almond Milk was one of the best foaming milks and ran only $2.99/carton. It appears that something has changed in the process and it no longer foams. We’ve tried several cartons with consistent fair results. This change is saddening.
Whole Foods 365 Organic** (August 2013 Great Good Good (Sweet) Milk is foaming again with the new recipe change. It produces a creamier cappuccino.

* Contains Carrageenan