Food and Drink

How to Use a Milk Frother for the Perfect Sweet Cold Foam

Achieve pillow-like froth in a latte or iced coffee.

Happy cake Happy cafe/Shutterstock
Happy cake Happy cafe/Shutterstock
Happy cake Happy cafe/Shutterstock

For most of us, the first thing we tend to crave in the morning (besides more time in bed) is a steaming cup of joe. Prior to the pandemic, we’d trudge over to our local coffee shops and revel in the time spent with colleagues away from the office, dawdling and commiserating while waiting on our mid-day cappuccinos and macchiatos.

The pandemic changed a lot of things, that’s for sure, but one of the ongoing shifts we’ve all had to get used to is working from home, and a lack of access to things we took for granted-aka an expertly crafted oat milk latte.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic saw a series of at-home barista experiments gain popularity thanks to social media, when those in search of caffeination (and stimulation) sat in the kitchens whipping cane sugar and instant coffee to create the frothy, overly sweet goodness that was dubbed dalgona coffee.The pillow-like froth of dalgona coffee is something we have continued to crave, and coffee giants have begun to capitalize on. Starbucks had people going crazy over their pumpkin cream cold brew this fall, and earlier in the year Dunkin’ partnered with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio on a drink that featured cold brew with pumps of caramel and a cinnamon sugar-topped sweet cold foam.

Heading into the cold winter months, nobody would be blamed for not wanting to bundle up for a trip to the coffee shop-especially when they’re working from home and the Omicron variant is on the rise. Luckily, all of these foamy concoctions, cold and piping hot, can be created from home. To help you out on your journey, we asked the experts over at Coffee Project in New York City for some help.

A local, women-owned roastery operating out of Long Island City, Coffee Project not only has coffee shops around the city but also offers classes for anyone from beginners to competition-level baristas. Needless to say they know something about the art of at-home froth.

Photo courtesy of Nespresso
Photo courtesy of Nespresso
Photo courtesy of Nespresso

Make foam for hot beverages

Kaleena Teoh, co-founder of Coffee Project, simplified the way we think about making espresso beverages with a single line: It’s all about the ratio of milk-to-espresso. Starting out with a double ristretto pour of pure espresso, all you have to do is add a certain amount of frothed and steamed milk to create the entire gamut of your favorite coffee shop beverages.

“You would usually start with a standard two ounces of espresso,” she says. “Add one ounce of milk, that’s a traditional macchiato. Add two ounces of milk, that’s a cortado. Three to four ounces, you’re going to get a flat white. And a little bit more frothed milk and you’ve got a cappuccino, add even more and you end up with a latte.”

For beginners, Teoh suggests using an electronic frothing whisk to create your foam at-home, which can be purchased for less than $20 on Amazon. If you’re willing to shell out a bit more, you can invest in a countertop instant steamer like the Aeroccino by Nespresso.The main difference is that the countertop version is automated, so all you have to worry about is adding the milk in and pressing start. The whisk is just as effective in foaming up your hot milk, but you’ll have to heat it yourself beforehand in a microwave or on your stovetop, and be more controlled about your method of hand whisking.

When heating up your milk to froth, use a food thermometer to monitor when the temperature reaches between 130 to 155°F. If the milk reaches 170° or higher, the proteins will start to break down and burn. Next, grab your whisk and get ready to froth your milk in two quick stages: aeration and incorporation.

“The first stage is aeration, when you inject air into the milk. If you’re using a handheld frother, you want to be at a point where you can see the little coil actually pulling air into your milk,” Teoh advises. “You don’t want to put it all the way at the bottom. This should only take about five seconds, before starting the second step of incorporation. Pull the whisk closer to the bottom of your vessel, and you will see this little vortex forming, and you hear the sound. During this step, all the air you injected into the milk is getting broken down into tiny, tiny, tiny bubbles, giving you the shiny, silky surface you should be looking for.”Incorporate for around 10 seconds before pulling your whisk out, and then give your vessel a good tap or two on the counter to release any larger air bubbles on the top of your milk. Tilt your cup to the side and pour your milk straight into the center of it, not on the side, which will make your end result look mucky. Dip your milk vessel down to touch the lip of your mug and gently pour the rest of the frothy milk on the top, leveling out the mug as it becomes full.When it comes to milk type, Teoh says whole milk will always produce the best, silkiest froth, but that there are plenty of substitutes that could work as well. Skim milk is the next best option in her opinion, but for the dairy averse, oat milk and almond are her milk substitutes of choice. She informs us that after a rigorous taste and froth test by herself and her team of over a dozen oat and almond milks, she recommends the Chobani Barista Edition oat milk, and the Almond Dream vanilla flavor.

If you plan on creating your frothy concoctions with a nut milk or with oat milk, it’s important to always seek out “barista edition,” on the label. It may seem like a marketing gimmick, but it actually means that the manufacturer added an additional amount of protein to the blend, which helps with creating that optimal froth for espresso beverages.

Make foam for cold beverages

Frothed milk used in cold beverages is a phenomenon that has totally caught fire recently, thanks to all the love that cold foam has been receiving. You’ve most likely seen cold foam atop cold crew beverages at your local Starbucks-it’s nonfat or skim milk that has been frothed into a cloud-like state and then used to simulate the airy toppings you’d traditionally see on a hot espresso beverage.

A few great things about cold foam include the texture, which is creamy and velvety when done right, and an easy way to add extra flavor and interest to a cold espresso beverage without making the entire thing taste too milky. Cold foam is also low in calories, since only a small amount of milk is needed to create the foam. You can also use your imagination to create a wide gamut of cold foam flavors to top your morning coffee with.The reason a lower fat milk creates the best cold foam goes back to the lesson we learned about hot drinks-it actually has the largest percentage of protein when compared to dairy milks with higher fat content. In contrast, whole milk works best for hot espresso beverages thanks to the fat lipids, which keeps your bubbles small. For more of an ice-creamy flavor and a denser texture, try substituting half of your milk with half and half.

To make cold foam at home, grab that handheld whisk you use for your hot beverages. Pour in your desired amount of milk, remembering that when frothed the amount of foam will be essentially double the original amount. Feel free to add a teaspoon of simple syrup (which you can make on your stovetop using equal parts water and cane sugar), or a pump of flavored syrup, for extra sweetness and flavor. Froth your milk using the same method outlined above, then spoon or pour onto your favorite cold coffee beverage. Great options include store bought cold brew, an iced Americano, or an iced latte

If you don’t happen to own a whisk, you can also make cold foam by adding the same ingredients to a French press, and pumping the plunger up and down until the milk doubles in size to create a firm froth with tight, uniform bubbles.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Austa Somvichian-Clausen is a freelance food and travel writer, who lives in Brooklyn with her girlfriend and two fur babies. Follow her on Instagram.

Food and Drink

We Tried 22 Trader Joe's Dips and Here's How They Stack Up

From vegan tzatziki to fiery Zhoug sauce to classic spinach, these deserve a spot in your cart.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

With football season looming over us, that only means one thing: dip season is back. Whether you’re gathering for an end-of-summer bash, watching the game, or in dire need of a snack to indulge in while binge watching the latest Netflix series to drop, dips are the perfect option. And at Trader Joe’s, there are a lot of dips to choose from.

That’s why we decided to write this guide to dips, with helpful pairing ideas for each. So whether you’re interested in something spicy and don’t know what to eat with Zhoug sauce, or you want a classic spinach dip, these are almost all the dips at Trader Joe’s reviewed for your needs (we’ve excluded hummus and salsas, otherwise it’d be miles long and your heartburn would be even worse).

Buffalo Style Chicken Dip

This Buffalo-style chicken dip is a cult favourite and with good reason. The sharp tang and heat of Buffalo sauce is present, but relatively mild in terms of spice level. That, paired with the tub of shredded chicken, makes for a filling dip ideal for watching a sports game. Although Trader Joe’s suggests eating it hot, it’s delightful cold as well.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Caramelized Onion Dip

The caramelized onion dip is one of my favourites that Trader Joe’s has produced. It’s delectably sweet, like a French onion soup, but balanced perfectly with the tang of the sour cream and mayo base. The texture of this dip is mousse-like; fluffy, light, and airy. It’s an onion dip but upgraded.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Chimichurri Sauce

Although this chimichurri sauce lives in the dip section, we think of it more as a condiment. It’s lovely topped on meats or slathered in sandwiches. The ingredients are simple-parsley and cilantro are the defining items here-but you’re left with a very flavorful and aromatic olive oil-based sauce. If you really want to use it as a dip for crostinis, that would work, too.
Pair with: eggs, steak, shrimp, rice

Chunky Artichoke & JalapeƱo Dip

This dip can be heated up or eaten straight from the fridge-both versions remain creamy, piquant, and spectacularly chunky, as advertised. The main flavour takeaway is the artichoke, which this dip is loaded with, but you will feel a tingle of spice from the jalapeƱos, too. It reminds me of schmear and would definitely make a great spread for a bagel.
Pair with: bagels or bagel chips, tortilla chips, pretzels

Cauliflower JalapeƱo Dip

Of all the dips, this one took me the most by surprise. I associate cauliflower with blandness, but this is far from that. It has a smooth texture (which surprised me because cauliflower can also be gritty), and a subtle heat from the jalapeƱos. I would prefer a bit more jalapeƱo, but it’s mild enough that anyone can enjoy this at a party.
Pair with: Veggie tray, potato chips, strawberry & jalapeƱo crisps

Everything and the Elote

Maybe it’s the fact that fresh elote is so amazing that renders this dip a little bit disappointing in comparison. It’s seasoned well with chipotle, cumin, and chili powder. But what it’s really lacking is in the name. There’s not enough sweet corn kernels in this dip to balance out the other spices and the cheese. Perhaps if you added this fresh corn, you could make a large batch of esquites.
Pair with: organic corn dippers, corn salad

Everything But the Bagel

I do feel like it was a misstep to use a Greek yogurt base rather than a sour cream and cream cheese blend for this dip to really give the vibe of breakfast bagels. Sure, the Greek yogurt is still sharp and smooth, but the dip feels runnier than it should be. That being said, if you’re a fan of everything bagels and the seasoning blend Trader Joe’s makes, this will fulfil you: poppy seeds, dehydrated onion, dried garlic, and black sesame seeds galore.
Pair with: bagel chips, Everything But the Bagel crackers

Garlic Spread Dip

It’s obscene how delicious this garlic spread dip tastes on just about everything. Personally, I can eat it by the spoonful. It’s smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of lemon juice and the unmistakable aroma of garlic. Yes, it’s delicious by the spoonful, but would also be delicious in a thousand other applications.
Pair with: pita bread, rotisserie chicken, tortillas, sandwiches, honestly everything

Green Goddess Dip

Like the titular salad, this dip is bright, very green, and refreshingly herbaceous. The avocado and green onion are strengthened by garlic, shallots, chives, and basil. Unlike homemade versions, this dip contains both eggs and sour cream, so keep that in mind for plant-based friends.
Pair with: sandwiches, salads, veggie trays, multigrain crackers

Herbed Tahini Sauce

I was expecting a stronger nuttiness from this herbed tahini sauce, but the dominating flavour is garlic and a tartness from the citric acid. It’s still refreshing and a great partner to falafel and sandwiches, but the tahini flavour is in the background. I can really envision this as a successful sauce for a cold noodle salad, spruced up with additional sesame seeds and perhaps a dollop of chilli crisp.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, garlic pita chips, cold noodles

Olive Tapenade

If you’re an olive fan, this Trader Joe’s tapenade will hit the spot. Crafted from a blend of black olives, green olives, and pimentos, it’s the right amount of saltiness and perfect chunky consistency for scooping. It would fare well atop hummus, scooped into a pasta salad, or just eaten straight.
Pair with: a charcuterie board, fig & olive crisps, pasta salad

Pimento Cheese Dip

I would argue that this pimento cheese dip does the Southern classic justice. Each bite is full of sharp cheddar and studded with diced pimentos for a dip that is simultaneously chunky and creamy. Would be excellent on a pimento cheese sandwich.
Pair with: multigrain crackers, tortilla chips, bread for a sandwich

Romesco Dip

The romesco dip is like summer unlocked through a small, eight-ounce container. There’s a brightness from tomatoes, a fuller, rounder flavour from roasted red peppers, and nuttiness from almonds. I think of it as a red almond pesto, almost. It’s great with veggies, could be tossed in a pasta, or just eaten with a hefty cracker.
Pair with: pasta, veggies sticks, raisin and rosemary crisps

Smoked Salmon Dip

If you’re a fan of lox, you’ll be a fan of this dip. It’s briny and salty and pleasantly fishy but the capers work well to cut through a flavour that may otherwise feel overwhelmingly rich. There is a generous amount of fish in this dip, as well as seasoning, so it really only needs a blank canvas to let it shine.
Pair with: bagels, multigrain crackers, or even pasta (try this Trader Joe’s recipe)

Sour Cream Spinach Dip

This is perfectly acceptable. It is not the most exciting dip on this list, but it does provide that classic spinach dip flavour, albeit a bit more tart due to the sour cream base. It would benefit from some cheese, but as far as dips go, it is thick, creamy, and very scoopable.
Pair with: toasted baguettes, multigrain crackers, a cheese board

Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip

Like the other spinach dip, this dip isn’t mind-boggling, but a twist on the classic that only clocks in at 30 calories per serving. The kale adds a tiny bit more dimension to this otherwise regular dip. Put this out on game day and surely it will be consumed; there are just better dip options here.
Pair with: toasted baguette, fig & olive crisps, Everything but the Bagel crackers.

Tzatziki

Trader Joe’s does this classic condiment justice. It begins with a kefir cheese and sour cream base that’s filled with sliced cucumber, plenty of dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Use this dip as a side for a gyro plate.
Pair with: Dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Vegan Buffalo Dip

This is a very successful reinterpretation of Buffalo dip. It’s tangy and zesty, with all the qualities that make for a plant-based alternative to this classic. One critique is that once opened, it does tend to get watery fast, but the flavour is so good that if you bring this to a party, it likely won’t last very long.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip

This is not far off from the regular caramelized onion dip. The flavour is still sweet and savoury, there are large squares of perfectly browned onions in each bite, and the consistency is creamy. I would say it’s not quite as light and fluffy, like mousse, as the original-but the dairy-free cream cheese base is still a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Vegan Nacho Dip

Vegan cheese can be a hit or a miss, but Trader Joe’s succeeds here. This cashew-based dip is luxuriously creamy and has all the meltiness a regular nacho cheese would also possess. You won’t find grittiness here, but will find a flavour that has the desired saltiness that will impress vegans and non-vegans alike. Just make sure you don’t overheat the dip and stir constantly-like dairy cheese, it will split otherwise.
Pair with: tortilla chips, tacos, burritos, fries

Vegan Tzatziki Dip

I’m amazed at this vegan tzatziki dip. Trader Joe’s has truly found something special with its dairy-free, cream cheese base. This is just as tangy, dilly, and cucumber-filled as its yogurt counterpart, meaning it’s delicious.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Zhoug Sauce

This Zhoug sauce is amazing. It’s herbaceous and fiery and flavorful-definitely the spiciest dip of the bunch. What I really love about it is how simple the ingredients are (only eight things in total!) and how they all work in tandem. Cilantro is undoubtedly the star, sure, but pops of cumin and cardamom paired with the heat of chile flakes and jalapeƱos really adds dimension to this Yemeni-inspired dip.
Pair with: eggs, garlic naan chips, organic corn dippers, or your favourite protein.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on TwitterĀ @katthompsonn.

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