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I often use an Aeroccino automatic milk frother that comes with some Nespresso machines. It froths milk by whisking it rapidly in a heated cup and produces a rather pleasant foam, though the resulting taste and texture is noticeably different from what I usually get at commercial coffee places.

I don't know whether it's mostly due to some difference in the froth or the fact that I'm not using actual espresso (I use either a Nespresso machine or an Aeropress depending on where I am at the moment).

Anyway, the froth does seem different, but what is the difference, precisely?

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Another difference is that the Aerocinno tends to produce firmer and longer-lasting froth compared to a wand. It's designed to provide a one-size-fits-all solution for consumers accustomed to automatic machines, whereas a milk wand requires more skill to use but allows for a lot more customization. Think of it like an automatic vs manual transmission.

Note that the type of milk you use can also make a difference. Keep this in mind when comparing the two.

  • @CrazyIvan Thank you; I removed the link (because it was superfluous here) and revamped other posts. – hoc_age Jan 2 '18 at 3:01
  • For this reason, I recommend adding your blog link to your profile page so as to be overt about your affiliation with your (certainly coffee-related) blog. – hoc_age Jan 2 '18 at 3:04
  • Sure thing-- thanks for clearing up the rules. – Daniel F Jan 2 '18 at 23:28
  • Thanks. Do you know how exactly the milk type relates to the end result, by the way? I can see that it's different, but can't grasp what it is that makes it more or less foamy or frothy in the end. – FlashCactus Jan 19 '18 at 18:03
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Ok - not having used one of these tabletop frothers, I don't really know how hot they actually get. But I suspect that the difference is down to the steam wand heating the milk more than your frother.

The science behind it (vastly simplified is):

Foam

This comes down to how adept you are with a steam wand - initially you don't fully submerge the wand, introducing air into the milk. As it starts to heat, the proteins in the milk "wrap round" the air bubbles. If you do it right, these bubbles are nice and small resulting in "micro foam". You have much more control with a steam wand as opposed to the whisk like implement in frothers. You'll likely find the bubbles in the froth from your frother are generally larger and thus doesn't last quite as long or look quite as nice as that created by a trained barista in a coffee shop.

Flavour

The natural sugars (carbohydrates) in the milk break down into "simpler" sugars with heat and enhance the sweetness of the milk. The steam wand introduces more heat and brings the milk to the ideal temperature (with monitoring). For comparison, I have an espresso machine at home, and I get my milk to roughly 70 C

For full details of the science behind it - I found this site which seems to explain it relatively clearly if you're interested in more science detail.

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