Steaming milk

The best milk temperature for your coffee

If you want to add cold milk (plain or frothy) then that’s just fine with us. In fact, when buying an Americano I am being asked more often if I want hot or cold milk. Yes, I know – Americano is supposed to be black, but that’s the trend.

Drinks such as latte, macchiato or flat-white are different though. The milk there is not just heated, it is textured (or ‘stretched’). Basically that means steaming it until it has just the right amount of froth and it is the correct temperature. Steaming milk by hand with a steam wand is very satisfying and with a little practice will give the best (and most consistent) results.

But as the case with brewing coffee, the temperature is important.

If the milk’s temperature is too low, it won’t sit right on the coffee and will taste like, well, warm milk. If it’s too hot, you will scald the milk and the texture will fall apart (the proteins in the milk will be broken down). Anything over 70°C can burn your mouth. Milk starts to boil and scald (i.e. burn) over about 80°.

What is the right temperature?

There are, of course, different opinions and you might find interesting results at different temperatures. However, we think a final milk temperature of around 65°C is best. At this temperature, the milk is more pleasant (sweeter actually) and sits on the coffee well.

There is a gotcha – correctly steaming milk needs steam at about 130°C. So – how do you know when you have reached that “sweet-spot” milk temperature? Some baristas can “sorta tell” when the milk is ready, but many utilise a thermometer.

What are the choices?

There seems to be basically three choices:-

  • Buy a machine that automates the process (although that will likely give you the least control)
  • Buy a heating and frothing jug. This is a great option actually, especially if you need to prepare more than one drink. And you can also use that to prepare hot chocolate (as 65°C is about right for that too)
  • Buy a milk thermometer. This is what we see baristas use

Too much choice? Well – not really. If you are looking to buy the avid coffee nut a gift, the milk thermometer would likely be best. For the coffee-loving couple or family, the jug might be better. A new machine can be a serious purchase…

There are lots of such things on the market, for example see this collection of milk thermometers on Amazon

Important notice: Our shop highlights products or services offered by various retailers or 3rd party companies. When you buy, you are buying directly from one of those retailers or 3rd party companies, and any contract of sale is between you and that retailer or 3rd party company, subject to their Terms and Conditions. Coffee Spout is not involved in your purchase transactions and is not responsible for any costs you incur. Any purchase decision you make is yours. Please check the final price and delivery before you buy as the retailer may change these at short notice. Our Shop is intended for UK customers. Thank you.

Some of the product links are affiliate links. When you buy through those links we may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price for you. For example, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.