Frothing/Foaming Almond Milk (Cappuccino)

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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.

Pouring frothed almond milk

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:

Almond Milk foam/froth next to shots of espresso

After:

Frothed almond milk cappuccino in Bodum mug

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.

Rich almond milk foam cappuccino

Close-up of almond milk foam

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.

Iced almond milk cappuccino

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.
Pacific Organic Almond Milk Great Good Good This is now our go-to almond milk for our Nespresso foamer

* Contains Carrageenan

** Whole foods had some sort of production/quality-control issue that affected the stock of 365 Almond Milk in early/mid-2013. Some batches were good, some were bad, then it was pulled from the shelves for 1-2 months. As of August 2013, it’s back on the shelves and so far so good.

Mixing it Up

We’ve been experimenting with blending the milks to get that closer-to-perfection foam. If you are not getting think enough foam, try mixing in 50% Almond Breeze. Note, the Almond Breeze does have Carrageenan.

Update on Whole Foods

It appears that something has changed in this latest batch. We have tested 2 cartons of the “Expires in June 2013” Almond Milk and they are not foaming at all (collapsing soap bubbles). We still have some “Expires in May 2013” that foams well. So for those trying it out for the first time, you may be out of look for the refrigerated stuff. I suggest that you buy the smaller $1.99 non-refrigerated version. We have tried several of the ones that “Expires in Nov 2013” and they foam very well. However, the “Expires in Dec 2013,” “Expires in Jan 2013,” and “Expires in Feb 2014” have not foamed well at all.

All ingredients and nutritional information remain the same, but something clearly has changed. We contacted our local store and Whole Foods corporate. They said no ingredients have changed and they will look into it. Perhaps it’s just a quality control issue on some of the ingredients.

(May 2013 Update) – Good news

We’ve tried the next batch of refrigerated Whole Foods Organic 365 Almond Milk (with expiration dates in July 2013) and it’s back to foaming. The foam is rich/creamy again but is a bit wetter than it used to be. This makes a really good cappuccino, but if you are looking for a dry cappuccino, you might want to stick with Almond Breeze for now.

(June 2013 Update) – OOS?

As of early June, it seems that now there is a production problem with Whole Foods 365 Organic Almond Milk and some stores don’t have any of the refrigerated in stock at all. Our local store is completely “out of stock” though no one at the store knew why.

Whole Foods says that it’s just an out-of-stock issue with their supplier. Will keep you posted on any details that we hear.

(August 2013 Update) – Back and Foaming!

Finally! It’s back in stock at our local stores. We’ve heard some mixed feedback here about the recipe, but so far we’ve liked it. Our primary use is for foaming milk to use in coffee and we are glad to saw that the new recipe is back to actually foaming and foaming well.

Whole Foods Foaming Again

Update on Trader Joe’s

Just as Whole Foods seems to have been taking out of the game (still not sure why) – Trader Joe’s has come back. Their latest batch that we’ve tried May/June 2013 seems to be creating that rich foam again. Let’s hope this lasts.

As of 2014, we switched to the Nespresso/DeLonghi machine with built in frother.
The frother is made for an individual cup so it’s not as substantial as the dedicated Froth Au Lait, but it still works great.

Quality Control

Still this poses the same question that we have about Whole Foods. Is there a quality control issue going on here? Does anyone have any insight?

More Helpful Resources:

Note: For those that are interested, unless otherwise specified, the milks listed do not have any Carrageenan in them (a somewhat common ingredient to soy, coconut, and almond based milks).

Almond Milk foam/froth next to a shot of espresso

Here are a few other bloggers discussing foaming milk:

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Comments

  1. Demsina

    I remember reading somewhere that if the milk is “old” not spoiled, just not packed “Fresh” it doesn’t foam up very nice.

    For example, my fresh made almond milk… beautiful foam. The Whole365 that I bought that doesn’t expire until january of 2014, no foam.

    The milk isn’t “old” but it’s just not “Fresh”. Maybe that’s why?

  2. mary

    ZOMG.. basically.. they are out. Whole Foods is out. I agree.. this is the best milk.. but they say they are having production problems. After a month of no froth.. then two weeks of frothing.. now.. they say it will be a couple of weeks until we can even buy it. #firstworldproblems

  3. ste (Author)

    @Demsina

    Thank you for the reply. We have not yet tried fresh/homemade Almond milk for foaming, but plan to. I’ll make a note that the Jan 2014 Whole Foods milk that you refer to is also not foaming. We were able to successfully foam with most recent “refrigerated” batch, but as @mary points out, Whole Foods seems to have a production problem as the shelves at our local store are empty.

    @Mary

    Thank you for your comment. The refrigerated Whole Foods 365 Almond Milk are also “gone” from our local store’s shelves. Clearly there are production problems or quality control problems. I wonder if the foaming and availability issues are related? If we hear anything I’ll posted an update. If you hear anything specific, please let us know as well.

  4. rose

    I, too, have been trying to figure out what happened to the lack of foam in almond milk. I’ve tried Whole Foods (shelf) and now SO Delicious and Silk. Nothing is foaming to my high standards for foam.
    Thank you

  5. ste (Author)

    @rose

    Thank you for the comment. What type of frother are you using? We were getting great results with Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods until the quality control issues (and now stock issues) hit them. When the stuff was good, we’d get think foam that that rivaled that of soy and milk.

  6. Claudia Mayfield

    What type of frother are y’all using? I’ve been searching for one and can’t find the best for almond milk.

  7. ste (Author)

    @Claudia

    We’ve been using a few different models of the Froth Au Lait. I highly recommend this frother for performance – though they tend to break easily. However, the company seems to have evaporated earlier this year. Their products have disappeared from Amazon, their company telephone number is disconnected, and other vendors have run out of stock.

    Other Frother’s do work with Almond Milk, but the Froth Au Lait has given us the best froth all around. We had some luck with the Capresso frothPRO as well.

    If you have any recommendations, please let us know. We are looking as well as a backup to our Froth Au Lait.

  8. Joe

    Which Almond breeze are you using? Have you found any differences between the flavours with regard to frothing? Thanks

  9. ste (Author)

    @Joe

    We’re using the Almond Milk Original. It foams really think, but also tends to drain out a bit if you let it sit around for 5-10+ min. Sometimes mixing a couple brands can achieve a better blend.

    As far as flavor, Almond Breeze tends to be pretty good, but a little dry/bitter compared to others. That’s just my opinion though.

  10. Nic

    You need to add Califia Almond milk to that list. All the best coffee shops in the Bay Area is their milk.
    Califia Farms

  11. Melody

    I am allergic to all dairy and soy so when I go to coffee shops for a latte my only option is usually almond milk. (I did get to try hemp milk the other day in Seattle and it was wonderful!) Compared to normal milk, the taste of an almond milk latte is inferior in my opinion. But there have been a couple times when I’ve ordered an almond milk latte, and the taste was actually similar to cows milk because it was so sweet. A couple of those times I’ve actually gone back to make sure that it is indeed almond milk and it always is. I work at a cafe now, and have been experimenting with almond milk to try to figure out how to steam it to retain it’s sweetness, but I can’t figure out how. I know the temperature should have something to do with it. I can get enough foam without a problem usually. But I just can’t figure out how to keep it sweet.

  12. Sayed

    In in Chicago and use a Meijer Store brand of almond milk. It is unsweetened and no flavor which I found works best.

  13. Sarah

    Thanks so much for this helpful page!

    Almond Breeze is usually great for frothing, and I have tried the plain (sweetened and unsweetened) and the unsweetened vanilla.

    However, the latest batches I bought this week are not foaming. :(

    If anyone is in Australia, I can tell you that the So Good brand doesn’t foam at all. Does anyone know where to get Trader Joe’s in Australia?

  14. Molli

    I wish I would have seen this blog a few hours ago! I just bought all the ingredients, including a new frother, to make a chai latte with almond milk and was puzzled as to why it wasn’t very foamy. When I tested with regular milk, the foam quality was much better so I turned to google, since I figured it had to be the almond milk and came upon your site. Great info!

  15. ste (Author)

    @Molli

    Glad the information here was some help. Did you ever get the almond milk to successfully foam? We’ve recently switched to Pacific Organic Almond Milk and are using a Nespresso with a built in frother. This has been foaming quite nicely – though not as substantial as the Froth Au Lait frother.

  16. Vicki

    Any thoughts on the ability of frothing coconut milk?

  17. ste (Author)

    @vicki

    That is a great idea. We have not experimented too much with coconut milk. Are you thinking more of the “coconut drink” that you’d get in a carton or the thicker coconut milk that you’d get in a can?

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