Have you noticed how expensive “fancy” coffee is when you buy it at a coffee bar or restaurant? I love frothy milk, but paying $1-2 for a bit of milk on my Morning Joe sticks in my craw, as the saying goes. Whether you like your frothy milk on top of regular coffee, like it do, or prefer it on top of espresso for a latte, it’s never a cheap proposition.
But you can make coffee with frothy milk at home with a microwave and a gadget that costs $10 – $25. If you’re really into saving money, you can even froth milk with a jar instead of the gadget – spending no money other than the cost of the ingredients.
If you’re dashing out to work in the morning, you can put coffee and frothy milk in a travel mug or even a small thermos with a wide neck. Of course, if you prefer, you can always bring the coffee in a thermos and the milk in another container to froth it at work.
Coffee with Frothy Milk on the Cheap
Method #1 – With an inexpensive milk frother
I use about ½ cup of skim milk. The less fat the milk has, the better it froths. So 1% or 2% milk will work too, but whole milk doesn’t froth well or easily.
All you have to do is pump the frother up and down for 30 seconds, which adds air bubbles to the milk and increases its volume by perhaps 50%.
Then remove the metal stem and microwave the milk for about 30 seconds on high. (Remember microwave basics – no metal in the microwave!) Watch carefully to make sure the milk does not overflow the container as it heats up in the microwave. Presto. The milk is now thicker and it has increased in volume by perhaps 25-50% more.
Method #2 – With a jar
Use a microwave-safe glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Instead of pumping the gadget stem, simply tighten the lid and shake for 30 seconds.
Microwave, again on high without the top, for 30 seconds. When I tried this method, the bubbles were a bit bigger and the froth a bit lighter than with my frother gadget.
Here’s a shout-out to TheKitchn for inspiring me to try this technique – it really works.
For a sweet and pretty finish, I sprinkle less than 1 teaspoon of raw sugar on top of the coffee with frothy milk. This brown and crunch sugar is available in most grocery stores, under names including turbinado, Demerara (after a colony in Guyana that was its original source) cane, raw, or natural sugar. One brand is called Florida Crystals.
What does a large coffee with frothy milk cost at your local Starbucks or independent coffee bar? I buy great coffee at Costco for about $5 a pound. Even at $8 a pound, a huge cup of coffee uses less than 1 ounce of coffee beans and costs under 50¢. A 2-pound box of raw sugar costs about $4, which works out to 1 penny per ½ teaspoon. With nonfat milk at about $2 a half-gallon, a ½ costs about 6¢. So for 57¢, I make a huge and delicious cup of coffee with frothy milk almost every morning. I hesitate to think about the cost of going out to buying my morning treat every day, but it would surely cost about triple or quadruple that 57¢.
The savings don’t stop with coffee. Check out the muffin cost comparison too!
My coffee treat is easy on the calories, as well as the pocketbook. The entire drink has only about 55 calories: 2 for the coffee, 8 for the the ½ teaspoon of raw sugar, and 45 for the ½ cup of nonfat milk.
Guilt-free and cheap – as vices go, it’s not bad.