Froth vs Foam? Milk Froth and Milk Foam Explained!

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A frothy cup of coffee sits on a wooden table.
Table of Contents
A frothy cup of coffee sits on a wooden table.

Key Takeaways:

  • Froth and foam are two terms often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct characteristics. Froth refers to a mass of smaller, denser bubbles that blend together, while foam consists of larger, lighter bubbles that sit on top of a liquid like milk or coffee.
  • Foam has a thicker and denser texture with larger bubbles that create a more substantial layer on the surface of beverages. On the other hand, froth has a lighter and airier texture with tighter bubbles that mix together to create a creamy consistency.
  • The size and density of bubbles in foam and froth also differ. Foam is characterized by larger, airy bubbles that give volume to the foam, while froth consists of smaller, tightly packed bubbles that create a creamy texture when mixed with liquids.
  • Foam tends to be more stable than froth due to its larger bubbles. It stays intact for longer periods without dissipating too quickly. In contrast, froth is less stable and can easily break apart or disperse quickly.

Understanding Froth vs Foam

Froth and foam are two terms often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct characteristics. Froth refers to a mass of small bubbles that blend together, while foam consists of larger, lighter bubbles that sit on top of a liquid like milk or coffee.

The secret lies in understanding the distinct difference between froth and foam. Most people tend to use ‘froth’ and ‘foam’ interchangeably, yet these two elements are what determine the texture, airy feel, bubble size, and ultimately the flavor of your favorite coffee drinks.

Immerse yourself as we delve into this uncharted territory of milk transformation – making sense of frothing versus foaming. Get ready for a steamy revelation!

Definition of froth

Froth is a term commonly used to refer to the accumulation of tiny, tightly packed bubbles formed in various liquids. This occurrence is most commonly seen in beverages such as cappuccinos or lattes, where air has been incorporated into milk to create an airy and voluminous texture.

Contrary to foamed milk which contains larger and less intense bubbles, frothed milk consists of finer, denser clusters of bubbles making it seem ‘drier’ due its heightened air content and decreased water volume.

In comparison to foam, the frothing process does not require any steam or heat – a characteristic that significantly distinguishes between their formation methods.

Definition of foam

Foam, in the context of beverages like milk and coffee, refers to a mass of small bubbles that form on the surface. These bubbles are typically larger in size and lighter compared to froth. Foam can be created by introducing air into a liquid, resulting in a thicker and denser texture.

It adds body and a creamy feel to drinks like cappuccinos or lattes. Skim milk tends to produce more foam due to its lower fat content, while different types of milk can yield varying degrees of foaminess.

Unlike frothed milk, which requires heat or steam for preparation, foam can be easily achieved by aerating the liquid with tools such as a milk frother or whisk.

Differences Between Froth and Foam

Froth and foam differ in terms of texture, with froth consisting of tight bubbles that mix together, while foam is characterized by bigger, lighter bubbles that sit on top.


Foam and froth differ in terms of texture. Foam usually has a thicker and denser texture, with larger bubbles that sit on top of milk or coffee. It creates a more substantial layer on the surface.

Froth has a lighter and airier texture, with tighter bubbles that mix together to create a creamy consistency. It is softer and less dense compared to foam. The difference in texture between foam and froth affects the overall mouthfeel and taste when added to beverages like cappuccinos or lattes.

Size and density of bubbles

Foam and froth can be distinguished by the size and density of their bubbles. Foam is characterized by larger, lighter bubbles that tend to sit on top of liquids like milk or coffee. These bubbles are airy and give a sense of volume to the foam.

Froth consists of smaller, tightly packed bubbles that mix together. Frothy bubbles are denser and create a creamy texture when mixed with liquids. The difference in bubble size and density is what gives each its distinct appearance and mouthfeel.


Foam and froth also differ in terms of their stability. Foam has a more stable structure compared to froth, which tends to disperse quickly. This is because foam consists of larger bubbles that are more resistant to popping or collapsing.

Froth is made up of smaller bubbles that are less stable and can easily break apart.

The stability of the bubbles in foam and froth also affects how long they last. Foam tends to stay intact for a longer period of time, allowing it to sit on top of a beverage without dissipating too quickly.

Froth, on the other hand, will start to separate and disappear sooner due to its less stable nature.

In terms of appearance, foam appears thicker and denser because its bubbles hold together more closely. It creates a solid layer on top of milk or coffee that doesn’t mix easily with the underlying liquid.

Froth, however, is lighter and airier in texture as its smaller bubbles blend more readily into the drink.

Similarities Between Froth and Foam

Both froth and foam are created through a similar process of incorporating air into milk or other beverages, and they are commonly used in various beverages like cappuccinos.

Creation process

Creating froth and foam involves the incorporation of air into milk or other beverages. To create foam, milk is typically heated and then aerated using a steam wand or milk frother. This process introduces tiny air bubbles into the milk, resulting in a layer of light, fluffy foam on top.

On the other hand, frothed milk is created without heat or steam by vigorously whisking or shaking cold milk to incorporate air. This produces larger bubbles that mix throughout the liquid, creating a creamy and airy texture.

The creation process for both froth and foam involves adding air to beverages but with different techniques and end results.


While foam consists of larger, lighter bubbles that sit on top of milk or coffee, froth is characterized by tighter bubbles that mix together to create a light and airy texture.

The choice between froth and foam ultimately depends on personal taste preferences and desired beverage aesthetics. So whether you’re craving a cappuccino with velvety froth or a latte with creamy foam, knowing the distinction will enhance your enjoyment of these delightful drinks.


How is froth created in milk?

Froth is created in milk by introducing air into it. This can be done by using a milk steamer on an espresso machine or by manually frothing the milk with a steam wand. The introduction of air creates bubbles that give the milk a lighter, frothy texture.

What is the purpose of froth in coffee drinks like cappuccinos and lattes?

Froth serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose in coffee drinks. From a functional standpoint, it helps to integrate the steamed milk with the espresso, creating a smooth and creamy texture. From an aesthetic standpoint, it allows baristas to create latte art and adds visual appeal to the drink.

How is foam different from froth?

Foam is essentially the same as froth, but it is typically used to describe the layer of bubbles that forms on top of cold beverages, such as iced lattes or milkshakes. Foam is usually lighter and airier than froth and gives drinks a creamy and velvety texture.

How is foam created in milk?

Foam is created in milk using the same process as froth – by introducing air into it. However, the method used to create foam might be different. For example, a milk frother or a frothing wand can be used to create foam in cold drinks.

What is the purpose of foam in cold beverages?

Foam in cold beverages serves a similar purpose to froth in hot beverages. It helps to integrate the milk with the drink and creates a creamier texture. Additionally, foam adds a visual element to cold drinks and enhances their overall presentation.

Is there a difference in the texture of froth and foam?

Yes, there can be a difference in texture between froth and foam. Froth is often denser and thicker, while foam is lighter and airier. The texture of both can vary depending on the method used to introduce air into the milk and the temperature of the beverages.

Can you use frothed milk instead of foamed milk in a recipe?

Yes, you can substitute frothed milk for foamed milk in most recipes. However, keep in mind that the texture and taste of the final dish may be slightly different. Frothed milk might be creamier and denser, while foamed milk tends to be lighter and airier.

Can you use foam instead of froth in coffee drinks?

Yes, foam can be used instead of froth in coffee drinks, especially if you prefer a lighter and airier texture. However, keep in mind that foam is typically associated with cold beverages, so using it in hot drinks like cappuccinos or lattes might alter the taste and presentation.

How do baristas distinguish between froth and foam?

Baristas are trained to know the distinction between froth and foam. They understand that froth is typically used in hot drinks, like cappuccinos, while foam is commonly found in cold drinks, like iced lattes. The difference lies in the texture and the way the milk is heated and integrated with the coffee.

About the Author:
Oliver Bennett, a seasoned barista, focuses on the technical aspects of coffee-making. His journey from local cafes to specialty coffee shops has equipped him with skills in the science of coffee, from grind size to latte art. Oliver's articles and how-to videos delve into brewing techniques and coffee science, fostering a community of home baristas and elevating the home coffee experience.