Choosing a Milk Frothing Jug
An ultimate guide to choosing a milk frothing pitcher
One of the necessary coffee making accessories every home barista needs is a milk frothing jug, also called milk pitcher or milk steaming jug. A milk steaming pitcher can make or break your latte art efforts, so it’s worth figuring out how to choose the best jar for steaming milk.
In this article we will talk about the features of milk pichers which you want to consider when choosing your milk frothing jug. We hope this helps you decide which milk steaming jug is best for your needs depending on whether you want to draw detailed latte art patterns or not, how many cups of coffee you serve and how you heat up the milk.
What is a milk pitcher?
A milk pitching jug or a milk frother is a kitchen utensil which we use to make a foam out of milk. It’s a tall jug made of stainless steel, plastic, glass or metal in which we froth hot or cold milk with a steaming wand or another milk foaming tool.
How to choose the best jar for steaming milk
What to consider when choosing a milk frothing jug?
The first thing to consider when buying a milk frothing jug is whether you will draw latte art patterns with it or you just need to steam or froth your milk. Other aspects worth looking into are:
- The way of heating milk
- Thickness of the walls
- Handled or handleless milk pitcher
- Volume indicator
Milk steaming pitcher features explained
Milk jug size
What size milk frothing jug should I get?
Our recommendation is: the best size jug for frothing milk is 12 oz (340 ml), if you are a beginner.
Here is some guidance on the milk pitcher size:
The milk pitcher should be 2 – 3 times the size of the cup or total volume of cups you will be pouring milk into. You will need enough room for the milk to expand when it gets aerated. On the other hand, if the jug is too large and there’s only a little milk on the bottom, you won’t get the whirlpool necessary to get the smooth texture of the milk. Also, if you want to draw detailed latte art patterns, you can have more control and achieve more precision with smaller milk pitchers.
What is the standard size milk pitcher?
The standard size of milk frothing jugs is 12 oz (340ml) and this is what we recommend, if you are buying your first milk steaming jug. Depending on the cup size, you can get up to 3 cups of milky coffee at a time with this size jug.
20 oz (590 ml) is also a popular, larger jug if you need to stem more milk at a time. However we don’t recommend large pitchers for beginner home baristas, as you would waste a lot of milk before you get it right…
The perfect size of your milk pitcher for latte art will also depend on the size of your hands. If you have small hands, it can be difficult for you to hold larger jugs.
So which is better: smaller or larger size of milk frothing pot?
The answer is:
- Smaller jugs are better for latte art
- Larger jugs are easier to swirl the milk during steaming
The shape of the jug will influence the way in which the milk swirls during the frothing. There are two main types of shape of frother jugs:
- bell-shaped jugs
- jugs with straight walls
Which is better: a straight or bell-shaped milk pitcher?
Bell-shaped milk jugs are better as they help to make a more consistent foam. In this type of container the milk spins better creating the perfect vortex.
What you need to know about the width of milk frothing jugs is that they need to be wide enough to create a whirlpool in the milk during the frothing or steaming. This way the milk surface area expands allowing more air into the milk, the whirlpool helps to break down bigger air bubbles and create a smooth foam as well as to heat the milk evenly.
The width of the jug is also related to the previous point – the shape. In our opinion, the best milk steaming jugs are those bell-shaped, as they are wider at the bottom, which allows to create the whirlpool during the frothing.
Now, this is the most important part of the milk steaming jug, if you want to draw attractive latte art patterns.
There are two main types of milk jug spouts:
- Classic spout
- Narrow spout
What’s the difference between a wide spout and narrow pouring spout?
Generally speaking, with a wide spout you can draw wider lines and with a narrower spout you can draw thinner lines.
What’s the best shape of a spout to draw latte art?
The best milk jug for latte art will have a well-defined, fluted, narrow spout.
We recommend classic spout pitchers for beginners and narrow spout pitchers for drawing more complex latte art patterns.
What is also worth considering when looking at the spout, is whether the producer confirms it’s a dripless spout. Good quality and professional milk pitchers are made this way by default, but it’s always good to check if the milk jug you are going to buy has this feature.
Milk frothing pitchers can be made of:
- Stainless steel
- Other metals
Stainless steel jugs for steaming milk and latte art
The most popular are stainless steel milk steaming jugs.
What material of the milk pitcher is the best for latte art?
The best milk pitcher material for latte art is stainless steel. Why? Stainless steel transfers the heat to your hands well, so you can steam milk and have a good control over its temperature. It’s also durable and easy to clean.
Are jugs made of glossy materials good for latte art?
Here, we’re going to share a secret trick some professional baristas use to have the perfect control of pouring milk: it’s about the smoothness vs coarseness of the walls inside the jug.
The walls shouldn’t be too smooth or glossy, they should hold the foam a bit not to allow for it to pour too quickly. This way you have more control over milk when drawing latte patterns. Some baristas even rub the internal jug walls with sandpaper to get the right texture and eliminate the glossy surface.
Glass milk frothing jugs
Can you steam milk in a glass pitcher?
Yes, you can steam milk in a glass pitcher. However, here is a word of caution:
If you are steaming milk with a steaming wand in a glass jug and holding the jug in your hands, be careful as glass can get very hot very quickly. But burning your hands would mean that you’ve overheated the milk, so that could also be a way to have a good control over the milk temperature if you have more experience… Anyways, be careful if you are a beginner.
Some milk steaming jugs have non-stick coating, which prevents the milk sticking to the surface and makes it easier to clean.
Apart from that, find out if the jug you are going to buy is dishwasher safe, if this is how you’re going to wash it!
The jug material you choose will also depend on the way in which you heat the milk and whether you need to warm the milk up at all. If you don’t need to heat the milk, the material won’t matter a lot, so you can even use a plastic jug. But if you do, there are a few things to consider, as below.
The way of heating milk
Now let’s look into the way in which you steam milk as this will influence your choice of the best milk jug.
If you are heating up milk with a steaming wand, you just need to bear in mind that the jug is suitable for hot liquids.
If you are heating milk over a stove, you need to be much more careful. Firstly, check if the manufacturer of the jug indicates whether it’s suitable for gas stoves or induction hobs.
A non-stick coating can also be a useful feature if you are going to heat up your milk over a stove. This can help to prevent the milk burning on the bottom
Thickness of the walls
There are two main things to look at when considering the walls thickness of your milk pitcher:
- Heat retention
- Whether you hold it in your hands while steaming
Obviously, thicker walls will retain the heat better. However, if you want to draw latte art, you will pour milk into the cup immediately after steaming to avoid the foam separation anyways.
If you hold the jug in your hands while steaming and want to control the milk temperature with your hands, then thinner walls will be better as you will feel the heat increasing much sooner and avoid overheating the milk.
Are milk pitchers with thin or thick walls better?
In our opinion milk steaming pitchers with thinner walls are better for the reason explained above.
Handled or handleless milk pitcher
Milk frothing pitchers can come in handless or handled versions. Also the handles can have different shapes, including open design.
Is it better to use a handled or handleless milk pitcher?
Generally speaking, handleless jugs give you more flexibility for pouring milk. They allow a better grip towards the top and more precision while drawing patterns with the spout.
It is also vital that the handle is perfectly aligned with the spout. If it’s not, it will be difficult to draw precise symmetrical patterns.
Some milk steaming pitchers come with a ruler on the internal wall indicating the volume of the liquid inside the jar. It’s a handy feature allowing to steam the right amount of milk. If you are going to buy a milk jar with such an indicator, do check whether it is etched, embossed or printed on the jar’s wall. Although the printed ones are more visible when the jug is new, they tend to fade away with time.
Some milk pitchers come with built-in or detachable thermometers, which can be very useful for beginners.
Tip: for the best milk frothing results use a full cream milk
What is the best milk pitcher for latte art?
The best milk steaming pitcher for latte art has the following features:
- Well-defined narrow spout
- Is made of stainless steel
- Walls indice aren’t too glossy
- Fits the size of your hand
- Has a handle perfectly aligned with the spout
What are the most popular milk frothing pitchers?
Handless milk pitcher
Some of the most popular milk steaming pitchers include:
- Anpro milk jug
- Barista hustle milk pitcher
- Espro Toroid milk jug
- Motta Empora milk jug – great for more complex latte art designs thanks to its spout shape
Can you use a frothing jug on a stove?
The quick answer is yes, you can. If you don’t have or don’t want to use a steaming wand, you can heat up the milk on a stove. But you need to watch the milk as it can burn on the bottom of the jug and you need to watch the temperature as it can also get overheated very quickly. If you use a frothing jug on a stove, you may want to go for a jug with a non-stick surface.
The number of milk frothing devices you can find online or in stores can be overwhelming, so it may be difficult to choose a milk frothing jug when you haven’t used one before. If you want to draw beautiful rosettas, hearts or tulips, choosing the right milk pitcher is a crucial decision to make.
We hope this article helps you figure out which milk pitcher is best for you if you want to make attractive latte art patterns or fit your other needs. The truth is that most baristas own a few milk frothers and it takes a while to figure out which type fits your method and coffee making style best, so you will probably need to test more than one. Happy milk frothing!