Latte Foams

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The Struggle:

I wanted to start this off by saying it’s that time of the year, pumpkin spice latte time. But this also brings up a common topic. No, I’m not talking about the online war with the pumpkin spice purists and the cafe classico cavaliers. I’m talking about the best part of any latte. That delicate foam that resides on the top. We as a society love this stuff so much we turned it into an art! Usually this stuff is made from steamed milk frother into a delicate foam and laid over the top of espresso. So what about all the plant based “barista blends” popping up that allow for a plant based latte froth? How is that possible and can we make something at home that is comparable?  

“How do we make cafe class latte foams at home?” 

Fiending for Foams

Some non-dairy milks can make a decent foam. Soy milk and oat milk both make a foam but once they are introduced to the hot espresso they do not last long. Dairy milk tends to hang on to that foamy texture for much longer. More recently there have been a lot of plant based milks popping up that will help create a longer lasting foam. So I took a look at quite a few of these to see what the common thread was. Surprisingly each one used a different method for creating a foam. This is good news since this method wont rely on one single ingredient. The most common ingredient I saw was Xanthan Gum. This makes sense since xanthan gum helps stabilize foams. Xanthan gum is a surfactant, this means it will strengthen the bubbles in the foam. Second most popular ingredient I saw was lecithin, more importantly sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin is a great alternative to soy lecithin. Lecithin is also a surfactant so it works in the same way as xanthan gum. Some other methods I have seen is emulsifying oil into oat milk. This is surprising to me since I saw no added emulsifier. The oat milk must have a natural emulsifier that allows for this. If you were to try this at home I would suggest adding an emulsifier like lecithin or xanthan gum. These ingredients should be used in small quantities. Lecithin can be used at a ratio of 0.6% to the total weight of the milk. Xanthan gum on the other hand can be used at even smaller quantities. This is due to its thickening properties. When adding xanthan be sure to add it in a ratio of 0.1-0.2%.  When mixing these milks up you may need to use a steam wand or a frother. I would recommend trying both of these styles of foam with any milk you have. The last thing you can try is creating a foam inside of a whipping siphon. This isn’t a traditional latte foam but the ability to add Foam Magic (the best foaming ingredient) to just about any liquid opens up a world of possibilities for your next latte. Maybe just maybe that way you could make a pumpkin spice latte the world would agree on

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  • Colleen E Pescatore
    November 11, 2020 10:46 am

    Can you use gellan gum high Acly to help coconut milk froth? If so how would you use it? Will it work similar to Xanthan gum or lecithin? I bought the gellan first and tried once but it did not work by just sprinkling in the frother with coconut milk. I don’t want to give up on it if there is a chance of it working since I have so much now.

  • Thank you for the question and answer. I had been trying to use gellan.

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