Article by Stephen Hosey, blending application manager, Vitamix®
It’s the veil of sweetness and light that transforms ordinary iced coffee or a cold brew into a decadent, luxurious, and beautifully striking treat: creamy cold foam poured or spooned over the top.
Just like steamed milk layered over cappuccino, a layer of cold foam can elevate all manner of iced and caffeinated beverages and will complement fruity drinks and iced teas as well.
Many purveyors of cold drinks and coffees have been upping their coffee game with this small indulgence, raising the bar on the daily grind and spurring undeniable demand. Quick-serve establishments hoping to compete for some of that demand should consider its versatility and low cost. In addition, because it dresses up ordinary beverages and can be customized for the individual consumer, you may find it supports a premium price.
This nuanced, premium topping is also deceptively simple to make, requiring minimal added equipment and ingredients.
How to Make Cold Foam
There are different methods for making cold foam, but the simplest, quickest, and most flexible approach centers around a staple ingredient for many establishments: nonfat or skim milk. By aerating the milk with a blender such as The Quiet One® made by Vitamix Commercial, paired with the Aerating Container, also by Vitamix, you can create a dense foam in under a minute.
The Aerating Container can accomplish this thanks to its blade, which is actually a disc perforated with holes. It quickly incorporates air into the milk, expanding the volume by up to three times. The special container is very easy to use with The Quiet One motor base, which comes with two programs dedicated to making foam, one longer than the other – although both are done in under 30 seconds.
While ingredients and temperature also affect the outcome, in general, the longer blending program results in a denser product with more stability, while the slightly shorter program turns out a looser, pourable foam. In both cases, the foam will gradually smoke down into the beverage, although the rate at which this occurs varies by recipe and processing power.
Among dairy options, skim milk is the most foamable base ingredient for cold foam, although 2% milk can also be used. The lack of fat, combined with the proteins in the skim milk, helps to create the most dense and stable foam.
Compared to other methods of making cold foam, the Aerating Container has several advantages that are especially germane to today’s beverage market. Not only is it fast, but it is also flexible in terms of the number of servings it produces. It can produce one serving uniquely customized for the individual consumer or produce multiple servings in popular flavors.
Drinks to Enhance with Cold Foam
Cold foam is a home run and an instant classic for cold coffee drinks, including ordinary iced coffee, cold brew, and nitro coffee. The thin layer of dairy foam holds up well over these cold beverages and adds visual contrast as well as an airy counterpoint to a bold cup of joe. Enjoyed as a topping, cold foam can be blended so it sits on top, not mixing immediately into the beverage.
It can do the same for an array of other bright, bold, and tart beverages. Potential pairings include fruit-infused chilled beverages and iced teas, ranging from herbal blends to fruit teas to chai. For all of these options, the cold foam adds a note of indulgence plus a striking aesthetic quality, particularly when paired with vibrantly hued beverages.
Customizing Density and Flavor
When it comes to flavor, the most effective options begin with ingredients already in your inventory, including sweeteners and syrups, as well as shelf-stable flavorings like granulated sugar, cinnamon, espresso powder, instant coffee, and cocoa. You can also make the flavoring process easier for staff by mixing the flavoring blends ahead of time, so they can be portioned out by the scoop for each serving.
Yet another way to flavor the foam is to garnish it just before serving with a sprinkling or drizzle of sugars, cocoa powder, caramel, and the like.
Try These Recipes
Tap into the cold foam trend using ingredients you already stock, helping you get the most out of your existing SKUs. Here are a few simple recipes to make using The Quiet One:
Basic Cold Foam
- Begin with a versatile recipe that works with many beverages and is easily customized: Add 3 ounces of cold skim milk (poured to the height of the blade) to the Aerating Container, fitted on The Quiet One blender. If desired, flavor the milk with about ½ ounce of vanilla syrup or other flavored syrup before blending. This amount equates to 2 full pumps of syrup from a one-liter dispenser bottle. Pump dispense volumes may vary by bottle size, so you may need to adjust the number of pumps accordingly. Choose program 31 for a loose, pourable foam or program 32 for a denser foam.
Espresso Cold Foam
- Create a chocolate espresso foam perfect for iced coffee, nitro coffee, and cold brew: Fill the Aerating Container with 3 ounces of cold skim milk and flavor with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of instant espresso powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or 1 pump of simple syrup, assuming a pump dispense volume of ¼ ounce of syrup per pump and adjusting if necessary. Run on program number 32.
Matcha Cold Foam
- Make things even easier with this single-process recipe in which the drink creates its own foam layer: Combine 1 cup of chilled skim milk with 1 cup of ice, 1 teaspoon of matcha green tea and 1 pump of simple syrup in the Aerating Container, adjusting the number of pumps if necessary, based pump dispense volume and desired level of sweetness. Blend ingredients using program 31. Pour into a glass, garnish with additional tea powder, and serve.
All of these options allow for a great deal of customization and flexibility, so don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors and textures – and see how easy it can be to tap into the cold foam beverage phenomenon.
Stephen Hosey is blending application manager and culinary team member at Vitamix, where he assists commercial customers with kitchen and bar efficiency, recipe creation and menu development. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.