How can I make frothed milk if I don’t have an espresso machine?

by Selma
(Seattle US)

An espresso machine and hand milk frother.

An espresso machine and hand milk frother.


Hi, I’m a bigtime coffee drinker, and like to use the hands-on approach.

I grind my coffee beans with a hand grinder, and brew the coffee in a French press. No electricity required!

Thing is, while I know I can’t make a real cappuccino with my hands-on gear, I would like to add some frothed milk to my coffee sometimes.

If I want to keep things simple - hands-on only - what are my options?


Selma, good question.

I’m a fan of the hands-on approach myself. Except when I’m feeling lazy!

Fortunately there are some options when it comes to making frothed milk.

Mind you… a qualification first.

Frothed milk isn’t the same thing as steamed milk.

Steamed milk is made by immersing the steam wand on an espresso machine into the milk. The steam blasts into the milk and heats it.

In the process, it adds hot water to the milk.

Frothed milk is different. With frothing you are adding air to the milk. No water.

So, as you pointed out, you can’t make either a cappuccino or a latte simply with frothed milk. You need steamed milk too.

OK… back to what we CAN do.

There are a ton of battery-powered hand frothers on the market. I’ve tried a couple, and honestly, they drove me nuts.

What I also tried, and now always use, is the “French press” approach.

If you look at the photo I added above, you can see my Nespresso machine making an espresso… and what looks like a French press with frothed milk.

Honestly, it’s exactly like a French press. But they market it as a milk frother.

First, you add hot milk. Then you push and pull the plunger up and down at least 10 times. Be sure to pull it free of the surface of the milk each time, so you push some air into the milk on the down stroke.

Get the idea? Super simple, and definitely hands-on.

This is how I make my own almost-cappuccinos… and they taste pretty good to me!

If you can’t find one locally, you can get milk frothers like this on Amazon.

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