Milk Frother vs. French Press: Which One Produces Better Foam?

You can make frothed milk with both a milk frother and a French press. However, when it comes to the quality of the foam, you’ll receive different results from the milk frother vs. French press

milk frother vs. French press
Milk Frother vs. French Press

Picture this: You’ve just promised to spoil your guests with creamy cappuccinos and lattes — and then your milk frother decides to pack up. Worry not! If you have a French press hiding at the back of a kitchen cupboard, you can use that to froth some milk.

But will these cappuccinos look and taste good? If you’re wondering which produces the best frothed milk when it comes to a milk frother vs. a French press, the short answer is the former.

To provide you with an informed view, I decided to make cappuccinos with both. Here are my findings.

How Does One Make Foam With a French Press?

A French press, for those readers who may not know the term, is the fancy name for a coffee plunger or coffee press. So how on earth does one make milk foam with a coffee maker?

Well, when one thinks about it, it’s not so difficult to imagine that the repeated up-and-down motion of a perforated mesh plunger can produce milk foam. By rapidly moving the plunger up and down in the press, air particles are forced into the milk, resulting in fluffy foam.

Here’s a short overview of how you can make frothed milk in a French Press:

  1. If you have a standard-sized French press, fill a mug three-quarters full of full-cream milk. Opt for half a mug of milk if you have a smaller three-cup press.
  2. Either microwave the milk for about 40 seconds or heat the milk on the stove on low-medium heat. Since you need to constantly stir the milk on the stove, using a microwave is the easier option.
  3. Next, transfer the milk into the French press, insert the plunger, and rapidly start moving the plunger up and down. The quicker the movements, the better. To prevent spillage, hold down the lid firmly during this exercise.
  4. If you’re doing it right, you should start noticing an increase in the volume of milk after about 30 seconds.

What Are the Similarities Between a Milk Frother and a French Press?

Although these are two distinct devices that are made for different purposes, the manual milk frother is surprisingly similar to the French press. It also features a perforated mesh plunger that you rapidly move up and down a cylinder.

What’s more, you can also make coffee or tea in the manual milk frother, which means that the French press and manual milk frother are far more alike than different. However, handheld and automatic milk frothers are quite different from the French press.

Comparison Between A Milk Frother and A French Press

Here’s a short comparison between a milk frother and a French press:

                            Milk Frother

                           French Press

The specific purpose of a milk frother, as the name implies, is to froth milk.

The French press is a coffee maker and not designed for frothing milk.

Milk frothers are typically powered by batteries.

A French press is hand-operated and requires no batteries or electricity.

A milk frother produces a dense and rich foam.

The foam you get from a French press is not as thick or velvety as the foam you get from a milk frother.

Producing milk froth with a milk frother is effortless.

Making milk froth with a French press requires a bit of physical exertion and more time.

You can froth lower quantities of milk with a milk frother, such as for single serves.

Since you need to submerge the plunger in milk, you cannot froth small quantities of milk with a French press.

What’s Better About A Milk Frother?

Milk frothers will provide you with a dense, velvety foam

Personally, I would definitely spend a bit of money and invest in a milk frother. As a bespoke tool that’s specifically designed to froth milk, it will provide you with a dense, velvety foam.

What’s more, you don’t have to build up a sweat in the kitchen and possibly end up with milk foam all over your counter if you accidentally forget to hold the lid down tightly.

What’s Better About a French Press?

Well, the benefit of having a French press in your kitchen is that it can provide you with a tasty cup of coffee and can also double up as a milk frother if you don’t have one. Although you won’t get the same quality foam from a French press, you still get to enjoy a decent milk-based coffee drink without having to invest in a milk frother.

It’s handy if you only want one piece of coffee equipment.

Who Should Use a Milk Frother?

If you like your milk-based coffee drinks and often need to make milk foam, you should definitely invest in a milk frother. If you’re a bit cash-strapped, I recommend a handheld milk frother, which comes at an affordable price and provides good-quality foam.

It’s a good option if you don’t like messing around with a steam wand or a French press. A milk frother also gets foam right every time. 

Who Should Use a French Press

Coffee dripping in french press
French press is a good option if you want to exert extra effort for your foam

You can keep using your French press to make milk foam if you’re somebody who doesn’t drink milk-based coffee drinks that often. Sticking with a French press is also a good option if you don’t mind a bit of extra effort to get your foam and aren’t that fussy about the quality of the milk foam.

It’s also practical if you have a small kitchen and don’t want lots of coffee equipment to store or clean.


  • Niki B

    Born and bred in South Africa, Niki B now does her writing from the distant shores of South Korea. A self-proclaimed coffee addict by day, and a writer by night, she gladly shares her knowledge with fellow coffee lovers.