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Cold Foam Coffee Is Everywhere, but What Is It?

Iced coffee with a foamy top is in a plastic cup.

Whether you’ve seen people drinking it or just heard people talking about it, cold foam coffee is everything. But what exactly is it, and can you make cold foam yourself?

Here’s the secret. Cold foam is just shaken milk—no, really.

If you’ve ever made a hot latte and topped it with steamed, frothed milk, you know that it sits on top beautifully, like a little coffee hat. It’s the stuff latte art is made from. Put that stuff on an iced coffee, though, and it’ll quickly dissipate and sink into the drink. The solution to this problem is cold foam.

Unlike the milk atop lattes and cappuccinos, cold foam is made without heat and simply involves shaking milk. When this is done, the proteins present in milk are agitated and they separate, forming bubbles. While you might think that thicker milk—like whole fat—might work best, it’s actually the opposite.

Low-fat milk is the best choice for cold foam. With high-fat milk, the fats weigh down the proteins so that they can’t expand. If you want froth, you’ll be getting skim or low-fat milk. So can you make it yourself? Yeah, just pop it into a sealable jar, shake, shake, shake, and you’ve got cold foam.

The next time you’re making iced coffee at home and want to make it fancy, why not add some cold foam?

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