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

How to make cold foam

What’s the deal with cold foam? It’s just that good. You’ve probably seen this trend at Starbucks lately, and let me tell you: we’re generally wary of any food trend. But this one absolutely holds up! Cold foam is the answer to a whipped topping for iced coffee drinks, and man 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 that makes a frothy 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 the drink.

Cold foam sits atop a drink with 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! Over here we’re wary of most trends: but this one is absolutely delicious.

Starbucks Cold Foam

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%.

In contrast, whole milk makes the best steamed milk for a latte! Why? The lipids keep the bubbles small, making the best microfoam texture for latte art. So if you see a cold foam recipe using heavy cream or whole milk: run the other way! Skim milk is your best bet.

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):

  • Grab a milk frother. The absolute best way to make Starbucks cold foam at home is using a special tool: a handheld milk frother. At only $10.90, it’s the best tool for making thick, fluffy foam and absolutely worth the purchase. (Hey, that’s just 22 Starbucks orders of the stuff!).
  • Consider other tools. If you prefer not using a milk frother, a French press is your next best bet, if you have one. Head to How to Froth Milk for more. Keep in mind: we don’t recommend using a whisk for cold foam, because the bubbles get very large and the texture is too loose.
  • 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, and it’s amazing how quickly it whips up! (For the French press instructions, click here.)

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 recipe | What is cold foam

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:

This cold foam recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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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 1x


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

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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:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. I’ve tried this a few times now, when i froth my almond milk it just turns into bubbles not a foam. Any tips?

  2. The cost of adding cold foam is no longer $0.50. The cost is $1.00 to $1.25 depending on location. The cold foam eventually mixes into iced drinks as one sips. Although if someone were to request cream, there’s no charge. Another clever way to add up charges to drinks. Hopefully my iced coffee stays under $7. I do enjoy the treat once in awhile. It’s becoming too expensive to go everyday. Thank you for adding the instructions for making cold foam at home.

  3. thank you, yes am used to ordering cold foam from Starbucks, guess I never realized that there is such a thing as a milk frother! Good to know and the vanilla variation

  4. Hi! We’re over here trying to figure out why this is tagged as vegan when you give no non-dairy milk options. We tried this with oat milk and it didn’t work. Could you clarify or give some suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Tagging as vegan was an error: we’re so sorry! You can get a nice froth on oat milk, but you’ll need a handheld milk frother: did you happen to use one of those? Then we’d spoon it out onto the coffee. It won’t have the same texture and body as skim milk (due to the protein makeup), but it could work in a pinch as the best non-dairy option. Our apologies for the tagging error!

    2. Regarding oat milk – I have had success with Oatly Full Fat (or better the Barista edition) and a french press. The french press I use has a very tight mesh. I give it between 20-30 small “pumps” and pour slowly over cold brew.

      Planet Oat and some others do not using thickening agents so they are not as easy to foam.

      I would also note that SB also uses heavy cream in their cold foam as well.