How to Make Cold Foam

Here’s how to make cold foam at home with just a few ingredients! This Starbucks recipe makes a frothy topping…

Here’s how to make cold foam at home with just a few ingredients! This Starbucks recipe makes a frothy topping perfect for elevating your favorite iced coffees and cold beverages.

How to make cold foam

What’s the deal with cold foam? Cold foam is the Starbucks answer to a whipped topping for iced coffee drinks. While we’re generally wary of food trends, we can confirm: this one is delicious. The creamy topping adds just the right frothy charm, without loads of extra calories.

Even better: you can make it at home! Here’s how to make cold foam: a DIY Starbucks recipe so you can enjoy this treat at home.

What is cold foam?

Cold foam is frothed nonfat milk used for topping for cold coffee drinks like iced coffee, cold brew, iced cappuccinos, and nitro coffee. It simulates the frothy topping of the steamed milk in a latte or cappuccino, but at a cold temperature so it doesn’t melt when hitting an iced drink.

The foam has a thick, frothy texture, and gradually settles in as you sip it. Because it’s made with nonfat milk, it adds only a handful of calories to the drink. But the lightly sweet crema topping has a major pay-off in texture! If you’ve had this one at Starbucks, you know: cold foam makes any iced coffee that much better!

Cold foam in glass with straw

The best milk for cold foam

You might think that a full fat milk would make the creamiest, richest cold foam. Some homemade recipes even call for whole milk or heavy cream. But guess what? Skim milk makes the thickest, sturdiest cold foam. That’s because it has a larger percentage of protein when compared to whole milk or 2%.

On the flip side, whole milk makes the best steamed milk for a latte. The lipids in the milk keep the bubbles small, making the best microfoam texture for latte art.

All about Starbucks cold foam

Starbucks launched cold foam in 2014 with the opening of its Reserve Roastery in Seattle. It was first served atop the Americano Con Crema drink, which had a thick dollop of coffee-spiced foam. Today, Starbucks offers cold foam as a topping that you can add to many drinks for an extra 50 cents. Starbucks cold foam drinks include the following:

  • Cold brews
  • Nitro cold brews
  • Iced lattes
  • Iced mochas
  • Iced cappuccinos
  • Iced espresso
  • Iced London Fog tea latte, Iced matcha tea latte, or Iced chai tea latte
  • Violet drink, pink drink, or dragon drink
Frothing milk

How to make cold foam: DIY Starbucks recipe

How to make cold foam at home? It’s very simple to make this treat to top all your homemade iced coffees and cold brews: and an incredibly impressive! Here’s what you’ll need to do (or jump to the recipe below):

  • Step 1: Grab a milk frother (or French press). The best way to make Starbucks cold foam at home is using a handheld milk frother. At only $8.00, it’s the best tool for making thick, fluffy foam and is worth the purchase. (Hey, that’s just 16 Starbucks orders of the stuff!). A French press is your next best bet, if you have one. We don’t recommend a whisk for cold foam: it makes foam with large bubbles and a loose texture.
  • Step 2: Froth for 15 to 20 seconds. Add skim milk and simple syrup to a tall cup and froth until very fluffy. It takes only about 15 seconds to whip up into a thick foam. (For the French press instructions, how to How to Froth Milk.)

Variation: add vanilla

Want to step up your cold foam? You can add a hint of vanilla extract to add a delicious nuance to the flavor. At first we wondered whether this would turn the topping a light brown color. But after testing it, it doesn’t make a perceptible difference in whiteness versus the original. Add a very small dash and you’re in business!

Cold foam in glass with straw.

Drinks that use cold foam

You can use cold foam on any type of chilled tea or coffee drink! Try a dollop of thick, lightly sweet foam on a glass of:

Dietary notes

This cold foam recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Frequently asked questions

What milk is best for cold foam?

Skim or low-fat milk (1% or 2%) froths best due to the higher milk protein content. Non-dairy milks like oat milk can also be used, but experiment to find a brand that froths well.

Why won’t my cold foam froth?

The milk might be too warm. Use cold milk straight from the fridge for optimal frothing. Or, you might not be using enough milk protein: opt for skim or low-fat milk.

Can I flavor my cold foam?

Absolutely! Add a dash of vanilla, vanilla syrup, or a pinch of cinnamon before frothing.

How long does cold foam stay good?

Cold foam is best enjoyed fresh. It will start to lose its texture after about 30 minutes.

How to make cold foam

How to Make Cold Foam (DIY Starbucks Recipe)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings


Here’s how to make cold foam: the Starbucks recipe for a frothy topping fit for iced coffee and cold brew!



  1. Add milk and simple syrup (and vanilla extract, if using) to a pitcher or narrow jar. Fully submerge the milk frother.
  2. Turn on the frother and froth until the milk starts to thicken, slowly pulling the wand towards the top of the milk. Froth about 15 to 20 seconds total, until the foam is thick and stabilized. Add to the top of cold brew, iced coffee, or an iced latte.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Frothed
  • Cuisine: Coffee
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: How to make cold foam, cold foam

Hot drinks that use frothed milk

There are so many coffee and tea drinks that use frothed milk! Once you’ve mastered this method, you can play barista with these drinks:

Espresso Tonic

The espresso tonic is a refreshing bubbly drink starring the unlikely combination of tonic water and coffee! Here at A…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

The espresso tonic is a refreshing bubbly drink starring the unlikely combination of tonic water and coffee!

Espresso tonic

Here at A Couple Cooks we’re avid followers of drink trends, and this one recently caught our eye: the Espresso Tonic! This unlikely combination of tonic water and espresso comes from Scandinavia, and it’s the perfect summer drink for coffee lovers. The sweet and bitter notes of tonic water accentuate the rich, bitter coffee, and the effervescent bubbles and hint of citrus add bright, refreshing notes. This one is a big favorite around here and a must-try for any coffee lover!

What is an espresso tonic?

The Espresso Tonic is a drink that pairs tonic water and a double shot of espresso. It originated in 2007 in Oslo, then spread to Sweden and became popular in the mid-2010s in the US in barista competitions. The drink is simple and you’ll need only a few ingredients to whip it up at home. It tastes like a true marriage of the two liquids: rich, bitter coffee that’s diluted by the sweet and bubbly notes of tonic (versus the coffee soda, which tastes like bubbly coffee). Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Espresso (doubleshot)
  • Tonic water (½ cup or 4 ounces)
  • Lemon or orange wedge
Espresso tonic

Ways to make espresso

The most important part of an espresso tonic? A great espresso! There are several methods for homemade espresso: our favorite is using a high quality espresso machine. But there are a few other ways to make a high quality espresso shot. Here are the top methods:

  • Espresso machine: The best way to make espresso at home is with an espresso machine (here’s how).
  • Portable espresso maker: portable espresso maker is a cheaper way to make great espresso at home.
  • Moka Pot (aka Bialetti): Moka Pot Coffee is very strong coffee, not technically espresso. But it works great for an espresso tonic if you have one!
  • French press: This French Press espresso is very good, and a nice tool for espresso if you have one.

What is tonic water?

Tonic water is a carbonated water that contains quinine and is lightly sweetened. Its flavor is bubbly, bitter, sweet and sour, making it an excellent mixer for drinks. Quinine was historically prescribed as a medicine to fight malaria, and mixing it with carbonated water and sugar helped to mask its bitter flavor. It first sold commercially in 1858.

Today the level of quinine is much lower than historical tonic water, and is safe to consume. It’s used in many classic cocktails like the Gin and Tonic and Vodka Tonic.

Espresso tonic

How to make an espresso tonic

An espresso tonic is as simple as pouring together two ingredients, but there a few things to note:

  • Add the tonic water first, then pour the espresso on top. This avoids the foam that occurs if they’re added the other way around.
  • Run a lemon or orange slice around the rim of the glass. The citrus adds another dimension to the rich, bitter coffee.

And that’s it! The espresso tonic is primed to be the perfect drink for summer. It’s the ideal afternoon pick me up or non-alcoholic cocktail. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

More coffee drinks

Are you a coffee lover like we are? Our Barista Series shows you how to make every type of coffee drink. Here are a few favorites to try:

This espresso tonic recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Espresso tonic

Espresso Tonic

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink


The espresso tonic is a refreshing bubbly drink starring the unlikely combination of tonic water and coffee!


  • 2 ounces expresso (double shot), cooled slightly
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) tonic water
  • Lemon or orange wedge, for serving


  1. Make the espresso, using your favorite method.
  2. Add ice to an 8-ounce glass. Add the tonic water and gently pour the espresso on the top.
  3. Run the lemon slice around the edge of the glass, then add it to the glass as a garnish.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Coffee Drink
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Espresso tonic

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.