A Taste of Luxury: How to Make Cold Foam for Exquisite Drinks

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Cold foam is a popular addition to many coffee drinks, providing a creamy, frothy, and luxurious texture that enhances the overall taste and experience. We will show you how to make cold foam with different ingredients, equipment, recipes, and tips.

Cold foam is a luxurious and velvety topping that adds a delightful twist to coffee and other favorite cold beverages. Whether you’re an iced coffee lover or enjoy a refreshing iced latte, cold foam can take your drink to the next level. It’s all about creating a light, airy texture that enhances your beverage’s flavor and visual appeal.

Making cold foam at home has several benefits. Firstly, it is cost-effective and can save you money in the long run. Secondly, you have complete control over the ingredients and can customize your cold foam. Lastly, making cold foam at home is a fun and easy way to elevate your coffee experience.

We have a previous post on making cold foam at home, but this is a more detailed update.

Table of contents

What is the Ideal Cold Foam?

When making cold foam, the goal is to achieve a frothy and creamy texture that enhances the overall taste and experience of the coffee drink. 

The foam should be thick and creamy, with small bubbles that add a velvety texture to the drink. 

The small bubbles in the cold foam are significant because they add a velvety texture to the drink and enhance the overall taste experience. 

The small bubbles are created by introducing air into the milk, which causes the proteins in the milk to orient themselves with their hydrophobic parts pointed inwards towards the air bubbles. 

What are the hydrophobic parts of milk proteins?

The phrase “hydrophobic parts” refers to the part of the milk proteins that repel water. 

When milk is frothed, air is introduced into the milk, which causes the proteins in the milk to arrange themselves around the air to form bubbles. 

The three main proteins in milk are caseins, α-lactalbumin, and β-lactoglobulin. These proteins arrange themselves so that their hydrophobic (water-avoiding) parts are pointed toward the air bubbles. This arrangement helps strengthen the bubbles’ walls and keeps the air bubbles intact for a long time, creating a thick, creamy foam. 

The hydrophilic (water-liking) parts of the milk proteins, on the other hand, stay put in the water environment of the milk (milk is 87% water) the bubbles are suspended in. This arrangement helps create a velvety texture in the foam, enhancing the coffee drink’s overall taste and experience.

The diagram below shows the arrangement of milk proteins that form around the air to form the bubble in foam.

What do you need to make cold foam?

To make cold foam, you need both ingredients and equipment.

The ingredients needed to make cold foam are simple and easy to find. The main ingredient is milk, but several sweeteners and flavorings can be added to enhance the taste of the foam.

You can use various equipment to make the cold foam, and we discuss these below.

Choosing The Right Milk For Cold Foam

The type of milk used to make cold foam is important, as different types of milk will produce different results. 

Whole milk or barista blends are the most commonly used milk for hot coffee foam, as it has a higher fat content, creating a richer and creamier foam. Whole milk is not suitable for making cold foam.

The milks that are best for making cold foam are:

Skim milk: Skim milk is often considered the best for making cold foam because it contains the least fat and has the same or slightly higher protein percentage than whole milk. 

This makes it light enough to hold the whipped air and create a thick, creamy foam. Skim milk also helps the foam to stay on the top of the coffee longer.

Low-fat milk: Low-fat milk, such as 2% milk, can also make cold foam. It has a higher protein percentage than whole milk, which helps to create a thick and creamy foam.

Non-dairy milk alternatives: Non-dairy milk alternatives, such as almond milk, oat milk, and soy milk, can also be used for making cold foam. However, choosing non-dairy milk with a little thickness is important, as milk alternatives, mostly water, will not froth up much.

We’ve previously discussed some of the non-dairy milk in our post, discussing whether coffee is vegan food.

The fact is that the non-dairy milk alternatives are not milk. Milk comes from the mammary gland of a mammal. The non-dairy ‘milk’ is from a plant, not a mammal. 

You can experiment with different milk varieties to find the one that suits your taste preferences and dietary needs. 

What’s In Milk?

Whole-fat cow’s milk is approximately 87% water and 13% solids. The remaining milk contents are lactose (milk sugar) 5%, fat 3.5%, protein 3 %, and minerals less than 1%. 

However, the milk composition also depends on the animal used to produce the milk. For example, a Brown Swiss cow will provide about 4% fat content, whereas a Jersey cow will supply 5.5% fat milk.

Skim milk contains more water, 1% fat, and 3% protein.

Low-fat milk, such as 2% milk, can also be used for making cold foam, but it is not optimal.

Non-dairy alternatives, such as almonds, oat, and soy, can also make cold foam. 

The following table shows the main nutritional components of some common dairy and non-dairy milk.

Dairy or Non-Dairy MilkCarbohydrates
(g)
Fat
(g)
Protein
(g)
Cow’s milk (whole)1288
Cow’s milk (1%)1228
Cow’s milk (skim)1208
Almond milk132
Soy milk447
Rice milk2220
Coconut milk250
Oat Milk1653

Sweeteners and Flavorings

Sweeteners and flavorings can be added to cold foam to enhance the taste and create different flavor profiles. 

Syrups such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut can be added to sweeten the foam, while extracts such as peppermint or almond can create different flavors. Cinnamon or nutmeg can also be added to create a warm and cozy taste.

When adding sweeteners and flavorings, it is important to remember the amount of sugar and calories added to the foam. Natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup can be a healthier alternative to traditional syrups.

Equipment for Making Cold Foam

Whisks

A handheld or electric whisk can help you achieve the desired texture for your cold foam. These tools whisk air into the milk, creating your desired light and frothy consistency. Electric whisks specifically used for frothing milk are known as ‘milk frothers’. You can whisk manually, but it takes quite a bit of effort.

Blenders

While not essential, a bench blender can be a great tool for creating cold foam in larger quantities. Choose a blender with variable speed settings to better control the frothing process.

You can also try out some of the newer personal blenders. They are small, portable, and do a good job for small volumes. I haven’t tried one yet, but they look interesting.

Bench Blenders

Personal and Portable Blenders

French Press

Surprisingly, a French press can double as a frother for cold foam. A French Press with glass material will let you see the cold foam as you make it.

Nespresso Milk Frother

You can use a Nespresso Milk Frother or a similar machine to froth hot or cold milk foam.

Mason Jars

Mason jars (or any container with a tight-fitting lid) are handy for storing cold foam in the refrigerator but can also be used for making cold foam (see later).

Equipment for Storing Cold Foam

It’s best to use cold foam immediately after making it. However, If you make too much cold foam or want to use it later in the day, you can store it.

Some people say cold foam can be stored for up to 24 hours, although I wouldn’t recommend it. After sitting in the fridge for a day, your cold foam is a shadow of its former self. The longer the foam is stored, the more it will deteriorate.

Mason Jars

Mason jars are great for storing almost anything. We’ve previously mentioned some of the best mason jars for storing cold foam.

Airtight Containers

For storing cold foam, having airtight containers (besides a Mason Jar)  is crucial to prevent air exposure and maintain the foam’s texture. Look for containers with lids that create a strong seal to keep your cold foam fresh for as long as possible.

Additional Equipment For Cold Foam

Thermometer

You don’t require a thermometer to make cold foam. You only need to use cold milk. However, how cold is cold? Usually, you want your milk to be at about 4°C, so although a thermometer is not mandatory, you can use it to ensure it is cold enough. 

I wouldn’t use the barista-type thermometers because these are designed for the higher temperatures of making hot foam. The temperature range is relatively small, and they wouldn’t be much use for anything else.

You are better off getting a general cooking thermometer which you can use to measure food temperature during cooking. There is a vast range of cooking thermometers, but the two main types are probes and infrared.

I like the digital infrared thermometers because they are easy to read, and you don’t need to immerse them in the liquid, milk, or food you are measuring.

Strainer

Some say that a fine-mesh strainer can help remove any larger bubbles or lumps if you prefer a smoother texture for your cold foam. Supposedly, this step can provide a more refined and consistent foam consistency.

I’m unsure about this because whenever I have tried to use it, I find it destroys the foam rather than improving it. But maybe I was a bit too careless, and you can make it work?

Milk Pitcher

A small stainless steel milk pitcher is ideal for frothing the milk. It allows for better control and precision while frothing. Choose a size that suits your needs, typically 12 to 20 ounces.

How to Make Cold Foam at Home

Depending on your equipment, you can use a few common methods to create cold foam. 

Electric Whisk/Milk Frother

Pour cold milk into the milk pitcher, filling it about halfway. Using a handheld milk frother, submerge the frother’s whisk just below its surface and turn it on. Move the frother slowly up and down, gradually increasing the depth of the frother until the milk doubles in volume and forms a frothy texture.

Blender

To make cold foam using a blender, pour your milk into the blender and blend on high speed for 30-45 seconds. The blender will aerate the milk and create a frothy foam.

French Press

After adding cold milk to the French press, pump the plunger vigorously until the milk turns frothy. This method works well for smaller quantities of cold foam.

How to Make Better Cold Foam

Nespresso Milk Frother 

Nespresso (or other) milk frothers are easy to use. Just pour in your milk and other ingredients switch on until you get the froth you want. Beware not to leave for too long or you’ll end up with hot froth.

Mason Jars

Add milk (and cream or flavor), close the lid, and use your handheld whisk (milk frother) or shake like crazy until you have foam. Don’t shake for too long or too hard, or you’ll make cheese 🙂

Flavor Variations for Cold Foam

One of the exciting aspects of cold foam is its versatility in flavor profiles. You can customize your cold foam to suit your tastes and create a unique beverage twist. Here are some flavor variations to consider:

Vanilla Cold Foam

Add a touch of sweetness and warmth to your cold foam by incorporating vanilla extract or vanilla syrup. It pairs wonderfully with iced coffees and gives them a delightful aroma.

Caramel Cold Foam

For a rich and indulgent treat, drizzle caramel sauce into your cold foam mixture or use caramel-flavored syrup. The combination of caramel and coffee creates a heavenly blend of flavors.

Chocolate Cold Foam

Chocoholics will adore this variation. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder or chocolate syrup to your milk before frothing it. The result is a luscious, chocolaty foam that complements iced mochas and chocolate-infused beverages.

Hazelnut Cold Foam

Capture the nutty essence by infusing your cold foam with hazelnut syrup or a splash of hazelnut extract. This flavor pairs exceptionally well with iced lattes and adds a delightful twist.

Seasonal Flavors

Get creative with seasonal ingredients like pumpkin spice, cinnamon, or peppermint extract. These flavors can bring a touch of festivity and a cozy feel to your cold foam creations.

Cream

Add lite or full cream to milk and mix for a thicker, sweeter foam. If you add vanilla, you will have a  copycat of Starbucks’ cold foam. (see the blender method above for this copycat drink.)

Creative Uses for Cold Foam

Cold foam isn’t limited to just topping off your iced coffees. Here are some creative ways to incorporate it into your drinks:

Cold Foam Cold Brew

Create the ultimate cold coffee experience by combining cold foam with a smooth and bold cold brew. The contrast between the rich coffee and the frothy foam creates a delightful sensory experience.

Cold Foam Tea

Don’t limit yourself to coffee-based drinks. Cold foam can also be a fantastic addition to iced teas, such as matcha or herbal teas. The creamy foam complements the refreshing flavors and adds a luxurious touch.

Cold Foam Frappuccino

If you enjoy blended frozen beverages, consider adding a dollop of cold foam on top of your homemade frappuccinos. It adds an extra layer of creaminess and makes your frappuccino visually appealing.

Cold Foam Shakes

Take your milkshakes to new heights by incorporating cold foam. Blend your favorite milkshake ingredients, pour them into a glass, and top with a generous amount of frothy cold foam for an indulgent treat.

These are just a few ideas to spark your creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover your unique uses for cold foam.

10 Delicious Cold Foam Recipes

Get ready for some delicious cold foam recipes! These recipes are easy to make at home and add a frothy layer of flavor and creaminess to your favorite cold drinks.

Brown Sugar Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam over your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Caramel Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons caramel sauce in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam over your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Chocolate Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam over your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons vanilla syrup in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam on top of your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Matcha Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon matcha powder in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam on your favorite iced matcha latte.

Salted Caramel Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon salted caramel syrup in a French press.
  • Stir to combine and ensure the caramel doesn’t sit at the bottom.
  • Place the lid and move the plunger up and down until the foam increases in volume.
  • Spoon the foam on top of your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Pumpkin Cream Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam on top of your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Strawberry Cold Foam:

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons strawberry syrup in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam over your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Mint Cold Foam

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon mint syrup in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam over your favorite iced coffee or tea.

Golden Latte Cold Foam

  • Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, and 1 teaspoon turmeric in a bowl.
  • Use an electric milk frother to froth the mixture until it forms a thick foam.
  • Spoon the foam on your favorite iced golden latte.

Feel free to adjust the sweetness and flavor intensity according to your preferences. These recipes serve as a starting point, and you can experiment with different flavors and combinations to create your signature cold foam recipes.

Troubleshooting Tips

While making cold foam is straightforward, you might encounter a few challenges. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you overcome common issues:

Foam Too Thin or Watery: Ensure that you are using skim milk that is cold enough and that you froth it for an adequate amount of time to achieve the desired thickness.

Foam Not Forming: If your milk isn’t frothing properly or forming any foam, it could be due to using too old or heating too much milk. Fresh cold milk works best for frothing. Ensure your milk is within its expiration date and hasn’t been previously heated.

Foam Separating Quickly: If your cold foam separates and loses its texture shortly after frothing, it could be due to not incorporating enough air during the frothing process. Ensure you submerge the frother whisk deep enough into the milk and move it up and down to introduce air into it properly.

Inconsistent Foam Texture: If you’re experiencing inconsistency in the texture of your foam, it might be due to improper frothing technique. Ensure you maintain a steady hand and consistent movement while frothing, creating a uniform texture.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged if you encounter any issues initially. With time and experience, you’ll be able to troubleshoot and consistently achieve the perfect cold foam.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You’ve learned to make delicious cold foam at home, elevating your iced coffee and other cold beverages to new heights. With the right equipment, choice of milk, and creativity, you can craft velvety, frothy toppings that will impress your taste buds and guests.

Experiment with different flavor variations, explore creative uses for cold foam and don’t forget to troubleshoot any issues. The possibilities are endless, and you’re now equipped with the knowledge to create cold foam masterpieces at your fingertips.

So, grab your frother, frothing pitcher, and favorite milk, and embark on a cold foam adventure that will transform your iced beverages into luxurious indulgences. Cheers to a frothy and flavorful journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Serve Cold Foam?

Once you’ve mastered making cold foam, you must know how to properly serve it. Here are some tips to help you maximize your cold foam. Spoon the desired amount of cold foam onto your prepared cold beverage, such as iced coffee or iced latte. Use a spoon or a straw to gently mix the cold foam into the drink, harmonizing the flavors. Admire the frothy layer on top of your beverage, which adds a visually appealing element to your drink.

Can You Re-Froth Cold Foam?

If your stored cold foam has lost some frothy texture, you can attempt to re-froth it before using it again. Pour the cold foam into a frothing pitcher and whip it up with a handheld or electric frother until it becomes creamy and frothy. Always use clean utensils and containers when handling cold foam to maintain hygiene and prevent contamination.

What is Starbucks cold foam made with?

Starbucks cold foam is made with milk, sweetener, and flavorings. They offer various flavors of cold foam, such as vanilla, pumpkin cream, and strawberry, which are blended with the milk to create a creamy and velvety topping for their iced drinks. See the section on making cold foam with a blender above.

Is cold foam just whipped cream?

Cold foam is not the same as whipped cream. While both are creamy toppings, cold foam is made by frothing milk, while whipped cream is made by whipping heavy cream with sugar.

Is Cold Foam Suitable for Cold Brew Coffee Making?

Yes, cold brew coffee pairs exceptionally well with cold foam. Just choose a good quality cold brew coffee maker and use the ingredients and cold foam equipment, and you are ready to do – once you have chosen your great-tasting coffee!

Can you put cold foam on a cold brew?

Yes, you can put cold foam on a cold brew. Cold foam is a frothed milk topping used to top various hot and cold drinks.

Is cold brew and cold foam the same thing?

Cold brew and cold foam are not the same thing. Cold brew coffee uses cold water to extract the ground coffee over an extended period (usually 24 hours) to produce a smooth and less acidic flavor. On the other hand, cold foam is a frothed milk topping added to iced drinks.

Can you add cold foam to coffee?

Yes, you can add cold foam to coffee. Cold foam is a versatile topping that can be added to various iced coffee drinks, including cold brew, to add a creamy and velvety texture.

What’s the Difference Between Cold Foam and Regular Hot Foam?

Cold foam and regular foam are two different types of foam used in coffee. Cold foam is typically used as a topping for cold beverages such as iced lattes and cold brews. Cold foam is made with low-fat milk, such as skim milk because it has a higher protein percentage than whole milk and is light enough to hold the whipped air, which is essential for creating a stiff foam. On the other hand, regular hot foam, also known as microfoam, is the white fluffy layer in hot coffee beverages created by combining aerated steamed milk with a coffee’s natural crema. It is created with an aerating wand from heated milk or cream. The main difference between cold foam and regular foam is how they are created and the texture of the resulting product.

What is Microfoam and Macrofoam?

Microfoam is a finely textured milk foam for making espresso-based coffee drinks, particularly those with latte art. It is created by introducing very small air bubbles into the milk during steaming, resulting in a silky, smooth, and glossy foam. Microfoam is used for drinks like lattes, cafe au laits, and steamers. It requires a skilled barista to produce and is considered a sign of attention to quality and a defining characteristic of the third wave of coffee.

On the other hand, macrofoam is a milk foam with visibly large bubbles. It is commonly used for cappuccinos. Macrofoam is characterized by larger, stiffer, and airier bubbles, making it less smooth than microfoam. It is created by introducing more air into the milk during steaming. Macrofoam is specifically used for cappuccinos.

Is Cold Foam a Microfoam or Macrofoam?

Cold foam is considered macrofoam in the context of coffee preparation or coffee making. Cold foam is created by whisking air into cold milk, resulting in larger bubbles that don’t hold their shape and microfoam. It is lighter and airier in texture, making it suitable for topping cold coffee drinks like iced lattes and cold brews. On the other hand, microfoam is used for hot beverages and is characterized by its silky, smooth, and glossy texture, with very small and uniform bubbles.

Can I make cold foam without a frother?

While a frother makes the process easier, you can still create cold foam without one. Shake cold milk vigorously in a sealed jar until it becomes frothy, or use a whisk to vigorously whisk it in a bowl until it reaches a frothy consistency.

Can I heat cold foam?

Cold foam is designed to be served cold and maintain its frothy texture. Heating it will cause it to lose its airy consistency. It’s best to enjoy cold foam as a topping on chilled beverages.

How long can I store cold foam in the refrigerator?

Consuming stored cold foam within 24 hours is recommended for optimal taste and texture. After that period, the foam may lose its frothy consistency.

Can I use sweeteners or flavorings in my cold foam?

Absolutely! You can add sweeteners like simple syrup, honey, or flavored syrups to enhance the taste of your cold foam. Experiment with different flavors to create your desired combination.

Can I make cold foam for hot beverages?

Cold foam is specifically designed for cold drinks like iced coffee or iced lattes. Its light and airy texture may not hold up well in hot beverages and might dissolve quickly.

Can I make cold foam with skim or low-fat milk?

While higher-fat milk tends to yield a creamier foam, you can still make cold foam with skim or low-fat milk. Adjusting your frothing technique and ensuring the milk is cold can help achieve a satisfactory foam consistency.

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