How to Brew

How To Make Cold Foam For Coffee

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Who loves a little foam with their cup of coffee? Though it’s often a treat to top off a special (and expensive) drink from a coffee shop, you don’t need a trained barista to enjoy that velvety, creamy goodness. That’s right, if you want to cap off your homemade iced coffee drink with cold foam, we’ve got you covered.

How would you like to roll into warmer weather with a new coffee-making skill? You can take a simple coffee and, with just a couple of cool coffee hacks, turn it into a drink worthy of that famous coffee chain you all know. Follow our guide on how to make cold foam for coffee to impress your friends and family with tasty new drinks!

What You’ll Need for One Serving:

  • 1/3 cup cold half & half 
  • 2 teaspoons granulated regular sugar or alternate sweetener
  • Flavored syrup (optional)
  • Handheld milk frother, French press, blender, or jar with lid
  • Pitcher or measuring cup with a spout

Step 1: Choose Your Method and Equipment

Which method do you plan to use? Of course, everyone has their preferred method, and there’s no single correct way to make cold foam, but some methods may work better for you than others, depending on your kitchen space, time, and serving size. Try several of these optional methods if you don’t already have one that you like.

Hand-Held Frother Method

Handheld cold milk frothers do an excellent job of creating foam, but you need to buy one and have a container with enough room to accommodate your device. We recommend using something stainless steel with a spout. The electric milk frother is easy to use and can be your best friend.

Cold Foam with a French Press or Blender

Did you know that you can use a French press for more than brewing coffee? It’s an easy way to whip up some cold foam, and you can do everything in one container. 

If you plan to serve more people, the blender method using full-size blenders and food processors can also make decent cold foam, especially if you have one with different speeds.

The Jar and Lid Method

This method may be the simplest and requires no special equipment. It’s one non-electric method that doesn’t require special equipment. You can use any container that seals well, but a Mason jar works wonderfully. Note that if you choose this method, prepare to use a little muscle, but you can just put everything in the dishwasher with a little hot water when you’re done!

Step 2: Combine Ingredients

Once you decide how you want to make the cold foam, measure the ingredients and combine them in your chosen container. Thankfully, you don’t have to be exact because you can keep the extra foam cold in the refrigerator for your next drink!

If You Use Flavored Syrup…

Depending on the flavor of syrup you use, you can come up with some yummy cream options. Of course, purists will avoid artificial flavor, but that’s for you to decide. Since flavored syrup has added sugars, you may want to adjust the sugar to avoid an excessively sweet foam. While we don’t have an exact ratio, we suggest substituting ½ tablespoon syrup for every teaspoon of sugar as a good start.

Step 3: Make the Foam

Barista Making Cold Foam

While cold foam looks and tastes complex, it’s a surprisingly simple recipe to make. Of course, if you want to bypass the effort, you can always pick up an automatic milk frother to do the job for you.

  • Handheld milk frothers make the job easy because you simply slip the frother into the container and turn it on. Let the frother run for about 20 seconds to get a large quantity of uniform bubbles in your foam.
  • In the blender, it’s best to run it on high for about 10 seconds. After that, you may have to pulse it a few times to get the desired consistency.
  • To use a French press, put the lid on and rapidly move the plunger up and down until the mixture doubles in volume. Make sure you have enough cream mixture to submerge the plunger but don’t overfill it.
  • For the jar and lid method, it’s important to make sure the lid seals properly first. Then shake, shake, shake until you get the desired consistency. It usually takes a few minutes and provides a decent little upper-body cardio workout.

Your foam is ready when you have small bubbles that create a smooth, uniform appearance. Usually, the mixture doubles in volume and takes on a fluffy texture.

Step 4: Pour Your Cold Foam

Pouring Cold Foam In Coffee

Slowly drizzle your cold foam over prepared coffee drinks as soon as possible to maintain the proper texture. You can even get creative with some fancy latte art, though this tends to work best with hot coffee!

Helpful Tips for Making Amazing Cold Foam

As we said, making cold foam is surprisingly easy, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Whether you adjust your ingredients or the method, you have plenty of room to experiment with making the best possible cold foam, and you don’t need professional coffee equipment.

  • Unless you plan to clean up a mess, make sure you choose a container that can handle at least double the amount of half and half you use. 
  • Blenders work well when you want to create more than one or two servings.
  • You can use a food processor, but they don’t always make for the neatest pours.
  • Try adding a pinch or two of salt to your mixture to cut the sweetness slightly.
  • To cut calories, try making a milk mixture of non-fat milk and half and half.

Cold Foam Flavor Variations

Plain cold foam adds something special to any drink, but what if it packed a flavor punch? Substituting simple syrup for some (or all) of the sweetener allows you to expand your drink options and create some delectable iced coffees and cold brews.

Vanilla Sweet Cream

Made popular by commercial coffee houses, vanilla sweet cream is possibly the simplest variation to create at home. Pick up some vanilla coffee syrup to substitute for the sweetener. This variation makes an excellent topper for an iced caramel latte or vanilla latte.

Irish Cream Cold Foam

There are two ways to whip up some Irish Cream cold foam. The first requires Irish cream syrup substituted for the sweetener. However, you could also choose an Irish Cream creamer or liquor (if you’re of age and not driving) to substitute for the half and half.  

Salted Caramel Cold Foam

Salted caramel anything sounds amazing, so why not make it into cold foam? Swap out the sweetener for caramel syrup and ⅛ teaspoon of sea salt to make an absolutely divine topping. 

Peppermint Cold Foam

Who loves a peppermint mocha? While it may seem like a winter drink, there’s something to be said for an iced peppermint mocha when it’s hot out and you need something equally caffeinated and refreshing.

We suggest whipping up an iced mocha but skipping the whipped cream. Instead, try making peppermint cold foam for a lighter topping with a kick. You can substitute peppermint syrup for half of the sweetener. If you use too much peppermint, it may overwhelm the mocha!

Pumpkin Spice Cold Foam

Where are our pumpkin spice lovers? Welcome fall the proper way with pumpkin spice cold foam on top of your favorite pumpkin spice coffee or instead of whipped cream on your iced latte

We used a handheld milk frother and a large glass measuring cup to combine ¼ cup half and half, ¼ cup 2% milk, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. You may want to toss in a pinch of sea salt to round out the flavor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Making cold foam is easy at first glance, but we know you probably still have questions. 

Can You Use Regular Milk for Cold Foam?

You can absolutely use milk to make cold foam. The only drawback is that regular milk won’t get as thick or fluffy. It also won’t taste as rich, which may not be a drawback for you at all. We should note that many people combine half and half with regular milk to reduce calories. Even Starbucks uses regular milk in their cold foam blends! Experiment with different types of milk, and you might discover a new flavor combination.

Do Milk Alternatives Work for Cold Foam?

Hello to our non-dairy coffee drinkers! We get the desire to dry some cold foam, and it is possible to whip up something like it with milk alternatives, like oat milk. That said, the non-dairy milk substitutes are thinner than regular milk making for extremely thin foam that doesn’t hold up for long.

Is It Worth Investing in a Milk Frother?

That depends on how often you plan to make cold foam or other frothy toppings. The jar method works just fine, but it takes a little effort, so it may be worthwhile if you plan to make a lot of frothy drinks. Remember, milk frothers can help you craft many drinks, not just cold foam.

How Does Starbucks Make Cold Foam?

Though the company doesn’t give up its secrets, it’s widely known that baristas use special blenders to create Starbucks sweet cream cold foam. Initially, Starbucks only used regular nonfat milk for cold foam, but the company recently introduced an almond milk cold foam as a non-dairy alternative.

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

If you ever ordered a latte or cappuccino with foam on top, you probably appreciated the appearance as much as the added texture. The barista who made that drink used a steam wand to create the froth and round out your beverage. However, if they applied that same foam to an iced version of your drink, it wouldn’t work out as well.

Enter cold foam. Where regular foam for hot coffee drinks uses steamed milk, cold foam for iced drinks just uses air and agitation to whip the milk while keeping it chilled. Since the cold foam is closer in temperature to the iced drink, it retains the texture and volume longer.

Why Can’t I Use Regular Foam On Cold Drinks?

Pouring steamed foam or hot milk over a cold drink doesn’t work well for several reasons, but mostly it creates temperature instability that can encourage bacteria growth. Also, pouring steamed foam over an iced drink will likely melt your ice and leave you with a cloud of cream and a lukewarm mess. 

What Drinks Are Good With Cold Foam?

The short answer is that cold foam works with any cold drink. However, most people use it for cold brews and iced coffees. Cold foam also makes an excellent substitute for whipped cream on iced macchiatos and iced lattes. 

Bonus tip: If you like iced chai or matcha lattes, cold foam makes an excellent addition. You can even add some matcha to your cold foam mixture or sprinkle a little matcha powder on top as a garnish.

Is Cold Foam Better Than Whipped Cream?

It depends. If you prefer the rich, sugary goodness of whipped cream, cold foam may taste disappointing. However, if you want to cut calories and still have a special topping, it’s a viable alternative. So be adventurous. Practice a few of these techniques, be the envy of your friends, and fulfill your iced coffee dreams with some delicious, homemade cold foam goodness.

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