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If you’ve used the past year to improve your at-home coffee game but still don’t have a milk frother, it might be time to get one. When the pandemic shut down some of our favorite local coffee shops, my partner and I took it upon ourselves to better our brewing skills and ultimately invested in a Breville Milk Café — it got us as close as we'll likely ever be to bona fide baristas.
During the pandemic, we got rid of our K-Cup coffee maker, which we only used when we were truly desperate for caffeine, and replaced it with a Bodum Pour Over with a reusable filter and gooseneck kettle. But when we were gifted two containers of illy, we didn’t want to let the good finely ground coffee go to waste by making it in a pour over, which coffee aficionados say should only be used to brew medium or medium-fine ground beans. We researched the best way to brew finely ground beans and that’s when we decided to get our Bialleti Moka Pot — and, along with it, our first milk frother, which allowed me to create the lattes and cappuccinos I love at home.
I originally got the Zulay handheld milk frother and although it was a good starting point, it didn’t produce as much froth as I wanted, plus I had to take the time to steam the milk beforehand. Once I felt confident in my brewing skills, I decided to take my milk frothing to the next level and invested in the Breville Milk Cafe. When it came in the mail, I said goodbye to preheating my milk and doing everything by hand and immediately started regularly relying on my Breville frother.
Unlike a handheld frother, this frother will do all the work for you — all you have to do is pour milk up to the minimum line, set your desired temperature and press a button. It is designed with an induction heating system that is meant to give you quick and consistent froth. If you don’t want your milk to be hot, there is a cold stir setting that will give you that desired froth without the heat, which I prefer for oat milk (a personal preference — I don’t like oat milk when it’s heated). There are two stirring attachments included: one for lattes and one for cappuccinos. Whichever one you are not using can be conveniently stored magnetically on the back of the machine.
Making lattes and cappuccinos isn’t the only thing the Breville Milk Café is good for — it also makes one of the best homemade hot chocolates I’ve ever had. The lid has a detachable component that acts as a measuring cup so you can pour chocolate shavings in as the milk heats up. I always opt for the William Sonoma Classic Hot Chocolate, because in my opinion chocolate shavings produce a richer taste than powders. It’s never tasted better than when I make it in my Breville, which helps the chocolate blend well with the milk as it heats up, giving it a rich flavor.
The only drawback I have faced with this machine is that you must fill the jug up to the minimum line to ensure that the frother doesn’t overheat. If you’re making coffee for just yourself, this minimum amount is often more milk than you need for your drink and you may end up having to dump some out, which feels wasteful. However, if you’re serious about making coffee at home — particularly lattes and cappuccinos — then, in my opinion, this should not hold you back from the convenient and cafe-quality froth produced by the Breville Milk Café.