Making a Caffe Misto: Which Milk Frother Should I Buy?

Have you ever wondered how to make a Starbucks quality Caffe Misto at home? We provide everything you need to know including what milk frothers to use!

The Caffe Misto is a prevalent order at Starbucks. This rich, creamy drink garners more than its share of fans in the coffee business. But what is a caffe misto, exactly, and how do you make one at home?

What Starbucks dubs its caffe misto is otherwise known as a cafe au lait, the French phrase for “coffee with milk.” It is a 1:1 mixture of strongly brewed coffee and scalded or steamed milk.

What a Caffe Misto Isn’t

Don’t confuse the caffe misto with a latte, though. While both drinks involve coffee and milk, they consist of different ingredients that produce different flavors and textures. This mistaken belief is common, and perpetuating it is sure to annoy the coffee snobs in your life.

Unlike the caffe misto, a latte consists of a shot or two of espresso mixed with steamed milk and topped with foam. Lattes are famous for the foam art baristas create on the top. On the other hand, Caffe misto or cafe au lait is traditionally made with brewed coffee, not espresso. It’s scalded milk heated just below the boiling point, with no foam. Click here for more information on how to create the perfect latte at home.

Caffe misto is also significantly different from white coffee, made with cold milk, unlike the scalded or steamed milk used to create a cafe au lait.

The History of the Caffe Misto

As the name would seem to imply, this drink originated in France in the 19th Century, with variations soon appearing in Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, and Switzerland. 

It migrated to the United States in the 1940s and became a signature drink in New Orleans, where it is still a popular choice with beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde

During the Civil War, when coffee supplies were limited, the practice arose of mixing chicory into the drink to make coffee stores stretch further. The addition of chicory added to the drink’s bitterness. It contained sweet pastries like beignets. Chicory is still found in many American versions of the Caffe Misto, especially in the South.

Making a Caffe Misto at Home

Tools used to make a Caffe Misto coffee.
Unlike many complicated coffee house orders, you can make a Caffe Misto at home fairly easily.

Here are instructions on how to make a Caffe Misto:

1. Make coffee using your regular method, only make it stronger than usual. We recommend you brew using your favorite type of coffee or coffee pod. For automatic drip, add more coffee grounds and/or use less water. For a New Orleans flair, choose a blend that includes chicory.

2. Prepare milk with a frother. If you don’t have a milk frother, read on for our review of some fantastic frothers available on the market. You can use any kind of milk or milk substitute. Scald the milk by heating it just short of the boiling point. If you prefer slightly cooler milk in your drink, that will work as well.

3. For best mixing results, pour the milk and the coffee from separate containers into the cup simultaneously to get an exact 1:1 mix. If you prefer your cafe au lait heavier on the coffee or extra milky, that’s fine, too.

Choosing a Milk Frother

Milk frother resting on a cup of coffee ready to use.
A milk frother is a helpful tool that churns milk into a froth or foam that will help enhance your favorite coffee drink.

While you can undoubtedly make a caffe misto without a milk frother, it’s much easier to get precisely the right consistency and texture from your dairy product with this handy tool.

There are quite a few options available when searching for the right milk frother to meet your needs. Here are a few features and characteristics you may want to take into consideration.

Handheld or Free-Standing

Handheld frothers are more compact, so they take up less storage space. On the other hand, a free-standing frother is less likely to cause fatigue since it supports itself.

Electric or Battery-Operated

An electric milk frother will not require batteries to be replaced or charged. At the same time, a battery-operated frother does not involve any cords, which can get in the way and be a nuisance when you are trying to create the perfect drink.

Lightweight or Sturdy

A lightweight milk frother is easy to handle and is not as likely to cause fatigue while operating. A sturdy frother, by contrast, is expected to be more durable and stand up to any accidental drops or bumps better than a lightweight appliance.

Budget-Friendly or High-End

A wide price range exists for milk frothers. You can choose to go with a no-frills frother that won’t make your bank account squeal, or you can invest in a luxury appliance with all the bells and whistles. It really depends on your preferences and your budget.

Battery-Operated Milk Frothers

We have rounded up some excellent choices for milk frothers to create the perfect caffe misto from the comfort of your kitchen. To find the one that will work best for your needs, read on.

Zulay Kitchen Milkboss

This product made by Zulay Kitchen is sleek and attractive. Available in fifteen eye-catching colors, this battery-operated handheld milk frother is compact and easily stored.

Customers rave about how easy this frother is to use and the high-quality results it produces. On the other hand, some customers had issues with the battery compartment not closing correctly. Others criticize the frother’s durability. 

At the same time, Zulay Kitchen offers a lifetime guarantee on the appliance, which may make up for some of the durability issues.

What We Like:

  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Compact for easy storage
  • Creates professional-style milk froth

What We Don’t:

  • Some problems with the battery compartment
  • The motor isn’t as strong as some products
  • Some complaints about durability

PowerLix Milk Frother

This milk frother by PowerLix is another compact, lightweight appliance for creating your homemade caffe misto. It is available in thirteen attractive colors and comes with a stainless steel stand for easy storage. 

I am especially pleased with how easy this appliance is to use and clean. But what excites me most about this frother is the silky smooth foam it produces. 

After further testing there are a couple of things you should know when purchasing a PowerLix milk frother. One complaint users have had is the lack of durability. However, the PowerLix offers a lifetime warranty to help offset this as a potential concern. Also, in order to use the PowerLix you must continually hold the power button while the frother is being operated. This was not a deal breaker for me, as the PowerLix produced silky smooth foam in no time flat.

What We Like:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Easy to clean
  • Creates a nice smooth froth

What We Don’t:

  • The power button must be continually held while operating
  • Some issues with battery fit
  • Durability

Electric Handheld Milk Frothers

XIMU Milk Frother

This handheld milk frother features a convenient USB recharge, three whisking speeds, and a stand. 

Customers compliment this frother’s speed options and convenience, while a few complain about its lack of durability.

Things We Like:

  • Convenient, cordless USB recharge
  • Two stainless steel wand heads
  • Three whisking speeds

Things We Don’t:

  • Stem is easily bent
  • Durability

K-Brands Electric Milk Frother

This corded milk frother packs quite a punch. Its powerful motor can froth milk for your caffe misto rapidly with professional-grade results. 

The K-Brands frother offers high power and is easy to clean. One inconvenience for some could be the cord and having to plug it in to operate. However, if you are going to an electric frother this is to be expected.

Things We Like:

  • Powerful motor
  • Easy to clean
  • Rust-resistant whisks

Things We Don’t:

  • The Cord can be inconvenient
  • Frother head is not removable 

Free-Standing Milk Frothers

Miroco Milk Frother

This free-standing milk frother features a near-silent operation, four settings, and three milk textures. It produces high-quality frothed milk with minimal effort on your part.

Miroco recommends exclusively using whole milk for the frothing function, so if you prefer a skinny caffe misto, this may not be the right product for you.

Things We Like:

  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Multiple setting options
  • Very easy to use

Things We Don’t:

  • Only designed to froth whole milk

Breville BMF600XL Milk Cafe

This sleek stainless steel milk frother produces excellent quality froth quickly and easily. As a bonus, it’s dishwasher safe.

Some users complain about the Breville frother’s lack of durability. Others claim that it does not produce desirable results with milk substitutes.

Things We Like:

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Stylish appearance
  • Produces excellent frothed milk

Things We Don’t:

  • Lack of durability
  • Not ideal for milk substitutes

Pod Coffee Makers With Milk Frother

Nespresso Vertuo Machine

The Nespresso Vertuo is a high-end espresso coffee machine which includes a high-quality milk frother. You can make all of the ingredients for your tasty Caffe Misto using this one machine.

Customers rave about the quality of coffee and frothed milk this appliance produces. However, due to its size it can take up a good deal of counter space. Regardless, we highly recommend this machine for any coffee/espresso enthusiast! Click here for a thorough review of the Nespresso Vertuo brewer.

Things We Like:

  • Heats up fast
  • Single-button operation
  • Many color options
  • Large water tank

Things We Don’t:

  • It takes up a lot of counter and storage space
  • Integrated Milk Frother has to be purchased separately for the machine

Milk Frothers With Grinder

EspressoWorks Machine & Cappuccino Maker

If you’re looking for the status symbol of milk frothers, this appliance is basically a Porsche. The EspressoWorks tour de force includes an electric bean-grinder, espresso machine, latte maker, and, of course, a milk frother.

Not only does this product provide every conceivable function you could want from a coffee appliance, but it is also highly durable.

Things We Like:

  • Multiple functions in one machine
  • Very Durable
  • Easy to use

Things We Don’t:

  • Small pour
  • Pricey
  • It takes up counter space

Cozy’s Bottom Line

If you want to make a caffe misto at home, you need to make coffee and froth milk. To accomplish the latter, you’ll need a suitable milk frothing appliance.

We have provided you with a few options to choose from, depending on what you want from a milk frother. Whether you’re looking for a compact battery-operated model or a luxury machine that does everything, including grinding beans, you can find exactly what you need on this list.

Now enjoy that cup of homemade deliciousness.

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