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How To Make Cold Foam (Step-By-Step Guide)

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If you’re a fan of iced coffee, you will have most likely seen cold foam on the menu of most coffee shops by now.

This delightfully fluffy milky foam makes the perfect addition to any gourmet chilled coffee drink.

But is cold foam something you could make at home? Cold foam is quick and easy to make and requires very few ingredients and only basic ingredients. The best cold foam is made using a French press, with nonfat milk giving the best results. You can also use creamier milk and a milk frother to make cold foam; however, the results may not be as good. Sugar and syrups can be added to cold foam to alter the flavor.

Making cold foam is so quick and easy, we can’t believe we haven’t tried it before! Let’s take a look at the best way to make cold foam and how to use this delicious coffee topping.

What Is Cold Foam?

Gone are the days when coffee was a steaming hot drink, topped with creamer or half and half. Nowadays the big hitter in the world of takeaway drinks is iced coffee, particularly during the long summer months.

And with the iced coffee revolution has come a flurry of new ideas on how to add a touch of dairy magic to your chilled coffee drink. Forget the traditional milky toppings, and bring on the cold foam!

Cold foam is a topping for chilled and iced coffees, with a light airy texture. This delightful foamy topping gives a cool, light finish to chilled drinks, adding a touch of milkiness to our gourmet coffee refreshments.

Unlike other milky coffee toppings, cold foam is made without heat or steam, so it keeps your chilled drinks perfectly cold.

It is simply added on top of iced coffee where it sits on the surface, before gently and slowly melting into the coffee.

Cold foam can be as simple as a plain milky foam, or sometimes it is sweetened with syrup or sugar. Flavored versions of cold foam can be the perfect addition to seasonal coffee drinks.

If you are familiar with a certain international coffee chain beginning with the letter S, then it is likely that you will already have come across cold foam on their menu.

However, this innovative technique can be easily replicated, so you can make a delicious cold foam topped iced coffee without leaving your house!

What Does Cold Foam Taste Like? 

In its most basic form, cold foam just tastes like milk. The cold foam made in coffee outlets is normally made with non-fat milk, so it is not particularly creamy and will just add a light milky flavor to your coffee.

Cold foam has a very light and airy texture, like very fluffy foam. It is designed to sit on top of the coffee, melting very slowly into the drink.

The aim is to get a little bit of cold foam with every sip of coffee—a milk mustache is guaranteed with a cold foam coffee!

If you prefer a rich, creamy coffee then cold foam is not the topping for you. Don’t expect a cold foam iced coffee to taste like a cold latte. With cold foam, the coffee flavor stays much more intense and the topping simply adds a subtle milky flavor.

One of the great things about cold foam is that it can be sweetened and flavored. This could be as simple as just adding a small amount of sugar to the milk before preparing the foam. Or for an extra twist, flavored syrups can be used.

Why Is Cold Foam So Popular?

We’ve been topping our coffee with frothy milk for many years now, so why has cold foam suddenly become so popular? 

Traditionally, milky toppings have been served on coffee using warm milk. The frothy foam is created using steam or heat, which gives milk a delightfully light and fluffy texture.

However, if you want an icy cold beverage then topping it with hot milk foam can ruin the chilled temperature of your coffee drink.

However, the cold foam revolution has completely changed how icy cold coffee is served! Now your chilled drink can be topped with a lovely cold milk foam, which perfectly complements any type of iced coffee.

And with the addition of sugar or flavored syrups, cold foam will transform the taste of any coffee drink!

Another reason that cold foam is so popular is the beautiful effect it creates when added to coffee.

The milky foam sits on top of the iced coffee, slowly melting down inside the glass over time.  As the milk starts to sink, you will get beautiful strands of milk blending perfectly into your coffee.

So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to post arty photos of coffee on social media, adding cold foam will give you a wonderful visual effect! 

What Are The Ingredients For Cold Foam?

When it comes to making cold foam, less is definitely more! The best cold foam is made from milk with no fat—this gives the lightest, airiest foam possible. The higher the fat content of the foam, the thicker and denser your foam will be.

This might come as a surprise to some of you, as the cold foam served in coffee shops tastes wonderfully creamy and delicious! But it is normally made with nonfat milk, so it is actually a healthier choice than creamer or other toppings.

Nonfat milk is also the ingredient of choice because of its higher percentage of protein.

Whole milk, 2%, or half-and-half are all lower in protein, and will give you a thicker and denser foam. Remember, you are aiming for light and fluffy here!

But what if you don’t have any nonfat milk? Or maybe you fancy using something creamier? All we can say is, give it a try!

The joy of making your own cold foam is that you can make it exactly the way you like it. So if you fancy a rich and creamy foam, then give half-and-half or 2% milk a go!

Or if you are feeling really outrageous, see if you can make cold foam from creamer—and let us know how it goes for you!

When you’ve chosen your milk, it is time to think about what else you might like to add in. Many of us like to add a touch of sweetness to chilled coffee drinks.

Adding sugar or syrup to your cold foam can be a great way to do this, adding a sweet and milky twist to your iced coffee.

If you want to add a touch of sweetness, the simplest way is to use sugar. This is simply dissolved in the milk, which is then made into cold foam. If you normally add a teaspoon of sugar to your coffee, try adding this to the foam instead.

To take your cold foam to the next level, add syrup instead of sugar. This will dissolve more easily into your milk, giving a smooth, sweet cold foam topping.

The huge range of different syrups available gives you endless possibilities for exciting coffee flavors!

You may come across cold foam recipes which recommend adding thickeners such as xanthan gum.

This really shouldn’t be necessary if you are trying to emulate the cold foam served in coffee shops, so don’t panic if you don’t have this in your pantry.

So, if all you need to make cold foam is milk, there is no stopping you! Let’s take a look at the best ways to make cold foam.

How To Make Cold Foam

Although the cold foam technique may have been invented by a certain international coffee chain starting with the letter S, it has quickly been adapted into many different recipes which are easy to make at home.

These at-home techniques are not quite as complex as those used in coffee shops. After all, we don’t all have an industrial coffee machine on our kitchen work surface!

However, we can easily recreate the delicious flavors and textures of a cold foam topped iced coffee in our own home, with very little equipment and basic ingredients.

Tips For Making Perfect Cold Foam

We are going to give you three different ways to make cold foam at home, using equipment ranging from a French press to a simple jar.

This means that anyone can have a go at making cold foam, but there are a few things to remember to get the best results.

When making the perfect cold foam, we are aiming for miniscule bubbles suspended within the milk.

These bubbles are so small you will barely be able to see them—we are not aiming for a bubble-bath effect here! The tiny bubbles are what gives cold foam the lovely smooth texture we are aiming to recreate.

One great tip to remember is to take care with how much milk you use to start with. When making cold foam, the volume of the milk will increase dramatically by 2 or even 3 times.

So, if you half fill your container with milk, the cold foam will expand and possibly spill over the sides! Aim to fill your container to about 1/3 full with milk to prevent any spillage.

If you add less than 1/3, then you may not get enough cold foam, particularly with the French press method.

The other thing to remember is that you are making a cold foam, so your milk should be perfectly chilled before you start. The last thing you want is a warm, foamy topping on your lovely homemade iced coffee!

Making Cold Foam Using A French Press

The French press is widely recognized as the most effective way to make cold foam at home. However, it is probably the method that creates the most mess and washing up, so bear this in mind when choosing how to make your cold foam!

If you aren’t familiar with a French press, it is a simple kitchen gadget used for making coffee. It is a simple cylinder with a built-in plunger, which filters the coffee before pouring.

The tiny holes in this filter are what make the French press the perfect tool for making cold foam!

Here is our step-by-step guide to making cold foam using a French press:

  1. Use chilled milk directly from the refrigerator, preferably nonfat.
  2. Pour the milk into the French press, to about 1/3 full.
  3. If you are sweetening the cold foam with sugar or syrup, add this now. Stir thoroughly to make sure it is well mixed in.
  4. Place the plunger and the lid onto the French press.
  5. Move the plunger rapidly up and down several times.
  6. Continue until the milk has more than doubled in volume.
  7. Gently pour your cold foam on top of your iced drink.

Making Cold Foam Using A Hand Frother

When the craze for artisan coffees hit town, many of us rushed out to buy a hand frother. It would seem perfectly logical that this is the tool you need to make cold foam—after all, it is designed to make frothy milk!

However, if you’re trying to achieve the beautiful airy smoothness of cold foam, you might struggle to achieve this with a hand frother.

This is because the hand frother creates bigger bubbles, more like the foamed milk we’re used to on cappuccinos.

But, if you’re not too fussy about the bubble size, then a hand frother can be a great tool to make a lovely cold foamy topping for your iced coffees. And as a bonus, it is a lot easier to wash up than a French press!

Here is our step-by-step guide to making cold foam using a milk frother:

  1. Use chilled milk directly from the refrigerator, preferably nonfat.
  2. Pour the milk into a clean cup or glass, to about 1/3 full.
  3. If you are sweetening the cold foam with sugar or syrup, add this now. Stir thoroughly to make sure it is well mixed in.
  4. Place the milk frother into the milk and turn it on.
  5. Move the milk frother around the milk, keeping it under the surface at all times.
  6. Continue until the milk has more than doubled in volume.
  7. Gently pour your cold foam on top of your iced drink.

Making Cold Foam Using A Jar

Whoever thought of this is an absolute genius! It is so quick and easy to make cold foam using just a jar – great for those of us who love upcycling!

This technique does require a bit of manual labor, as you will need to shake the jar yourself to create the perfect foamy texture.

But a bit of exercise does us all good every now and again, and gives you a great excuse to indulge in a sweet treat with your iced coffee too!

Here is our step-by-step guide to making cold foam using a jar:

  1. Use chilled milk directly from the refrigerator, preferably nonfat.
  2. Pour the milk into a jar, to about 1/3 full.
  3. If you are sweetening the cold foam with sugar or syrup, add this now. Stir thoroughly to make sure it is well mixed in.
  4. Place the lid on the jar, making sure it doesn’t leak.
  5. Shake the jar vigorously.
  6. Continue shaking until the milk has more than doubled in volume.
  7. Gently pour your cold foam on top of your iced drink.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over how to make cold foam, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Can you make cold foam from creamer?

If you’re a fan of luxurious thick creamer in your coffee, you might be tempted to try and make this into cold foam. But what would happen if you tried to make cold foam with creamer?

Normally, cold foam is made with low or non-fat milk. This gives it the light, smooth texture we are familiar with.

Using a different product such as creamer will still give you foamy milk, but it will have a different texture compared to a nonfat cold foam.

The texture you will get depends very much on the creamer you use. There are so many different types of creamer available that it would be impossible to predict what type of foam you might get from your creamer!

But this doesn’t mean it will taste bad, and at the end of the day, it is all going to melt into your coffee anyway. So if you’re a fan of creamer in your coffee, have a go at making it into cold foam for your next iced coffee treat.

Can you make cold foam with non-dairy milk?

Many people are cutting dairy out of their diets these days, for various reasons.

This may be because they are following a vegan diet, are lactose intolerant, or want to cut out dairy products for health reasons. But does this mean you have to miss out on treats like cold foam iced coffees?

Absolutely not! It is very simple to make cold foam with non-dairy milk, but you just need to pick the type of milk carefully. You might see that coffee shops frequently use almond milk, which gives a great flavor.

However, to get a good cold foam they will normally add thickeners, which is not something we would normally do at home.

So if almond milk won’t work, what milk can be used to make non-dairy cold foam at home? The dairy-free milk which gives the best results is soy milk, and it can be used for any of the cold foam methods described above.

However, soy milk has a lot of negative associations these days, and many people avoid it for ethical reasons. If you do want to use soy milk, the best option is to pick organic soy milk.

If you absolutely don’t want to use soy milk, or just don’t like the taste, you need to find alternative non-dairy milk which will make good cold foam.  To do this, you need to look at the protein and fat content.

You are looking for a high-protein, low-fat milk to make the best cold foam. Top of the list comes pea milk, followed by oat milk and hemp milk.

Whichever you choose, make sure you try it first before adding it to coffee to check you like the taste!

The other thing to bear in mind with non-dairy milk is that the fresh versions make far better cold foam than the long-life versions. So make sure that you pick up your milk from the refrigerator section of the store.

Can cold foam be made in the blender?

If you’ve got a blender at home, you might be tempted to use it to make cold foam.

It is possible to make cold foam in the blender, but you will end up with a whole bunch of washing up to do afterward!

Plus, you won’t get the tiny little bubbles you are aiming for. Expect to get a big, frothy milky mess—not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely not the cold foam we are used to!

You can make foaming milk using either a full-size blender or a handheld blender. Both will give the same results, but there is less cleaning up to do with the handheld version.

The technique is pretty much the same whatever type of blender you use. Fill the cup or jug of the blender to about 1/3 full, stir in any sweeteners, and switch on the blender at a low speed.

Watch the milk carefully, and be ready to stop as soon as it looks like it has doubled in volume. Remove the jug from the blender and pour the cold foamed milk onto your iced coffee.

What drinks can I add cold foam to?

Cold foam is perfect for any iced drink where you would normally add milk, cream, or creamer. This includes iced coffee and iced teas.

The only difference is that you don’t mix it in, so you will get a little taste of foamy milk with every sip.

You can also use flavored cold foam to add a different dimension to your iced drinks. It is very simple to flavor your cold foam—just add flavored syrup or food flavoring to the milk before processing it into cold foam.

Here are some great ideas for cold foam flavorings:

  • Gingerbread (vanilla and ginger)
  • Peppermint
  • Pumpkin spice
  • Brown sugar
  • Caramel

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