How To Make Cold Foam, Starbucks-Style [5 Easy Steps]

Creating cold foam coffee.

Love Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew coffee but hate the high price? Make your own cold foam at home!

If you’re like me, you might have been a little bit intimidated by the process. It turns out that it’s actually really easy to make cold foam at home!

In this article, I’m going to show you how to make cold foam that tastes and looks like your favorite Starbucks’!

Just follow these five easy steps, and you’ll be able to enjoy your very own cold foam Starbucks-style latte in no time!

What Is Cold Foam?

Cold foam is a type of dairy-based topping added on top of coffee drinks, usually cold ones like iced coffee drinks and Cold Brew coffee.

It’s basically frothed milk that’s nonfat or low-fat, so it’s pretty similar to frothy steamed milk that’s often found on top of a cup of hot latte, cappuccino or macchiato.

How to make cold foam

However, since it’s frothed cold instead of hot, the cold temperature of cold foam prevents it from melting too quickly in an iced coffee.

The chilled, luscious, and velvety texture makes it one of the popular trends in recent years in the coffee community.

And, like many others, the giant coffee chain Starbucks played a big part in its popularity.

Iced Americano with sweet cream cold foam

The brand first introduced Starbucks cold foam back in 2014 in Seattle Reserve Roastery with the Americano Con Crema topped with coffee-spiced cold foam.

But one of its most popular Starbucks cold foam offerings has to be the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew, popular enough for the brand to publish a recipe for home baristas everywhere to recreate it at home.

What Is Cold Foam Made Of?

Plain cold foam is made of just non-fat, low-fat milk, or even half-and-half.

But there are many variations of the recipe to add more aromatic flavors, sweetness, and creamy texture to this topping layer. For example:

  • Flavored syrups (i.e. A simple syrup like vanilla for a Vanilla Sweet Cold Foam)
  • Flavored sauces (i.e. pumpkin sauce for a Pumpkin Cream Cold Foam)
  • Matcha (for a Matcha Cold Foam)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sugar
Cold Brew with cold foam

What Milk Should You Use For Cold Foam?

Though you might be tempted to use creamy whole milk, as previously stated, you should use nonfat milk or very low-fat milk to make cold foam if you want a thick, solid, and long-lasting layer.

The best milk is skim milk. Why? Skim milk works because it has a much higher protein content than whole milk or 2% milk, which can assist with the creation of the fluffy milk foam and the maintenance of its form.

Cold foam is made with nonfat milk

So, go out and grab some skim milk. At the very least, use 2% milk or half-and-half.

Only use whole milk or heavy cream if you’re in a pinch and have nothing else on hand. Heavy cream just won’t create a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam that’s as fluffy and lasts as long.

If you have certain dietary restrictions that make you unable to consume dairy products, feel free to substitute regular milk with almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk to make sure your fluffy cold foam is vegan and dairy-free.

What Kind Of Milk Does Starbucks Use For Cold Foam?

According to Starbucks‘ claim, the brand also uses nonfat milk and blends it to get the desired smooth, creamy, and layered texture for making cold foam.

However, in the Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam recipe for home baristas, the brand recommends using 2% milk instead, which is only reduced-fat milk.

For the frothiest layer of cold foam and an authentic Starbucks coffee shop experience, I suggest you go with the former – fat-free milk AKA skim milk.

An iced blonde vanilla latte with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and caramel drizzle

Is Cold Foam Sweet?

If you’re only using non or low-fat milk, your cold foam will get its flavor from there, which can be sweet or just slightly sweet depending on what type of milk you use.

And, though it won’t be sweeter than full-fat milk, it will be less creamy.

But, we’re not here for the creaminess of the hot foam – frothed whole milk – on a hot cappuccino, we’re here for the chilled fluffiness and airiness that creates an interesting texture when enjoyed with your iced drink or Cold Brew.

And, if you add any more ingredients (like flavor syrups and sauces), it will pick up the taste and aroma from there as well. So, you can customize your cold foam to be sweeter and more flavorful.

An iced drink with cold foam and chocolate powder

What Is Cold Foam For?

Most of the time, it’s for cold or iced drinks like:

  • Cold Brews
  • Nitro Cold Brews
  • Iced espresso drinks
  • Iced latte
  • Iced cappuccinos
  • Iced mocha
  • Iced tea
An iced espresso with cold foam

At Starbucks, you can also request to get it on Starbucks Secret Menu like the Violet Drink or Pink Drink.

If you want to put cold foam on hot drinks, that’s also safe to do. But it’s a bit pointless as it will quickly melt into the morning coffee and, to some extent, affect the flavor of the brew.

How To Make Cold Foam With Handheld Frother

For this cold foam recipe (1 serving), you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup (59.1 ml) of skim milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.2 ml) of vanilla extract (optional)
  • A handheld milk frother
  • A milk pitcher (or any narrow jar so that it’s easier for the foam to build up and you can avoid milk splashing around)
 An iced latte with cold foam

If you’re looking for a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam recipe, use:

  • 1/4 cup (59.1 ml) of 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon (7.8 g) of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.2 ml) of vanilla extract

Either way, to make better cold foam, avoid heavy cream and whole milk.

Step 1

Add milk and vanilla extract (optional) to the milk pitcher.

Step 2

Submerge the handheld milk frother into the milk.

Step 3

Turn it on and start frothing in circles near the base of the pitcher until the milk has started to thicken.

Slowly move and position the frothing wand just below the froth. Spend 15 – 20 seconds in total for frothing.

Step 4

Turn off the handheld milk frother and carefully pull it out of your thick and stably-formed cold foam. It should have doubled in volume and had the same texture as melted ice cream.

If there are any big bubbles, gently bang the bottom of the milk pitcher against the counter to get rid of them.

Step 5

Slowly pour it on top of your iced coffee or Cold Brew and enjoy!

Can You Make Cold Foam Without A Milk Frother?

Yes! If you don’t have an electric milk frother, that’s okay too. Here are some alternative options to successfully recreate the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam:

Can You Make Cold Foam With A Hand Mixer?

  1. Add the milk and other ingredients (if any) into a bowl.
  2. Submerge the handheld mixer into the bowl.
  3. Turn it on and start mixing in circles at low speed near the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Slowly increase to a higher speed. Mix for around 45 seconds until it reaches soft peaks that look like melted ice cream.
  5. Lightly tap the bottom of the bowl against the counter to remove big bubbles.
 A Caramel Cold Brew topped with coconut cold foam

Can You Make Cold Foam In French Press?

The French Press can be used to make both Cold Brew and the cold foam topping. How neat is that!

  1. Add milk and other ingredients (if any) to the French Press beaker.
  2. Insert the French Press plunger with the lid on.
  3. Press the French Press plunger up and down to froth the milk for around 30 – 45 seconds until the milk doubles in volume.
  4. Remove the plunger. Lightly tap the bottom of the French Press against the counter to get rid of any big bubbles.

How Do You Froth Cold Milk In A Blender?

  1. Add milk and other ingredients (if any) to the (immersion) blender.
  2. Turn it on and blend on high speed for around 45 seconds.
  3. Lightly tap the bottom of the blender against the counter to remove big bubbles.

How Do You Make Cold Foam Without A Mixer?

Okay, if you don’t have anything you can use to automatically mix the milk (and other ingredients) up, here’s another option:

  1. Grab a jar with an air-tight lid (i.e. a mason jar).
  2. Add the milk and any other ingredients (if any) to the mason jar.
  3. Close the lid properly to ensure that no milk can splash or spill out of the jar.
  4. Hold the mason jar properly and shake vigorously for around 60 seconds until the milk has expanded to double the original volume.
  5. Lightly tap the bottom of the jar against the counter to get rid of big bubbles, leaving uniform bubbles behind.
A Cold Brew with Cold Foam

Can You Store Cold Foam?

Yes, you can store cold foam in the fridge for up to 2 – 5 days, but it’s always best to enjoy it right away and make a fresh batch each time since it doesn’t take that long to prepare.

 A brown sugar cinnamon Americano topped with coconut cold foam

To Wrap Up

This recipe can give you a thick and stable cold foam just like what you get at Starbucks and it takes only a few minutes to prepare.

Enjoy your delicious cold foam iced coffee drink any time you want – without spending a fortune. Cheers! 😃


Is Cold Foam The Same As Cream?

No, sweet cream vs cold foam are different. Sweet cream is made with a blend of heavy cream, 2% milk, and vanilla syrup. Cold foam is frothed nonfat milk and vanilla syrup.

Is Cold Foam Healthy?

Yes. Since the cold foam is made with non-fat milk and completely customizable with various types of milk, it doesn’t add as many calories and sugar to your favorite cold coffee drink as whipped cream.

How Long Does Cold Foam Last?

It can last for up to 2 – 5 days in the fridge. But you should serve it right away for the best quality. It isn’t that hard to make, either, so prepare a fresh batch each time you crave cold foam on your iced coffee or Cold Brew.

Can You Get A Hot Drink With Cold Foam?

Yes, you can, but it’s pretty counter-intuitive because the cold foam would melt into the coffee very soon. It may also alter the flavor of your hot brew as well. So, stick to cold beverages with this one.

Does Cold Foam Have Sugar?

Yes, the sugar content comes from your milk (despite being non-fat) and whatever other ingredient you intend to add (vanilla syrup, granulated sugar, etc.).

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