on January 10, 2010
Froth au Lait Professional Milk Frother (Models FALNS10 & FALNh-S14, $150 & $190, respectively, on Amazon.com)
If you own a tea café or drink a lot of tea lattes and don't want to invest in a decent (read: expensive) espresso machine, affordable options for heating and frothing your milk and chai lattes are, unfortunately, quite limited. While I can't speak to the adequacy and efficacy of the Froth au Lait Professional Milk Frother for home use, I cannot recommend the professional, NSF version for commercial/café use unless you don't mind replacing it every 6-18 months. I have owned four of them, employing two at a time, over the past 3½ years, and eventually gave up on them for a different solution.
The Froth au Lait Professional looks promising: a sturdy, stainless steel pitcher mounts easily on top of a solid-appearing base with a simple on/off button and hot/cold switch. To use it, you assemble a 3-part paddle on a hollow metal post in a pitcher, pour in milk, mount onto the base, and turn on. The cycle time to heat and froth the milk is about 3-3.5 minutes, a long time if you've got several latte orders lined up during an insanely busy Saturday.
The cons of this device outweighed the pros for us. If your café is a loud, raucous place, you won't mind the jarring (and, increasingly loud, over time) clatter it makes. Granted, espresso machine steamers are loud too, but a loud hisssss is preferable to the clankety-clank of this appliance for your café's chi any day.
Your milk should be hot when it's finished cycling, but unfortunately, ours would often stop halfway after making a few drinks in a row (this suggested to us that thermostat got thrown off because the device isn't adequate for subsequent cycles). As a workaround, we'd hold the button down to finish heating the milk.
About 4 months into owning the Froth au Laits, we noticed that the paddle assemblies' gears became worn down (plastic), causing a looser fit, resulting in additional clamor from spinning parts. More disturbing, however, is that milk would seep onto the motorized base because of the degradation of the paddle assembly's fit. Because of this, and despite diligent and repeated cleaning, we still always had smelly deposits of milk around and under the motor post and base at the end of the day, which was very difficult to clean. I can only assume that repeated exposure to leaked milk from the pitcher caused the base to eventually fail, because they all died eventually between 6 months of use (for the first one, which they replaced) and about 1½ years (for the last three, which they wouldn't replace).
Because these units leak, have a long, unreliable heating cycles, and plastic paddle frothing assemblies that become worn down with use they are not really suitable for a busy café environment in my opinion. As such I consider them disposable and not of "professional" or commercial quality. In fact, I don't know why they would even bother with the NSF certification when the leaked milk constantly pools on the base, creating an ideal environment for bacterial growth unless detailed after every use (the milk even gets under the spindle which the paddle units attach to).
After having called several coffee equipment suppliers in search of a solution, I've found out that there seems to be a general consensus that this machine for commercial use just doesn't make the grade in terms of quality, performance, and durability. The only affordable solution I've found since these died is the Quick Mill Auto Milk Steamer (I got mine from Chris Coffee online for about $250). The cycle time is shorter (90 seconds), it heats the milk to a perfect 140° each time (rendering lactose in milk at its sweetest), and it's a lot easier to clean.
on September 6, 2007
I love cafe mochas. Unfortunately, the retail ones are either really bad (yes, I'm talking about you, Starbucks) or too far away (lucky you who either live in Maui for Java Jazz, or near any Tim Horton's). Moreover, you need foam. I can't use the frother on any espresso machine I have ever owned, and it adds excess water anyway. I have used the electric whips, and for a long time the Bodum frother. Not really satisfied with either.
Then I ran across the Froth Au Lait. I bought the cheap one first, and loved the foam, but it stopped working (the bottom beater stopped turning -- more on that later). I was not happy with how the return was going (they insisted I contact the manufacturer), so I took the machine apart to look at it myself, then fired off a not particularly flattering e-mail (I believe the phrase "piece of junk" was used at one point).
And the next day, received a call from the President of Froth Au Lait, stating my e-mail bothered her so much she googled me and tracked me down. Asked that I send my machine directly to her, promised she would get back to me, and said they would tell me what went wrong. In the meantime, I bought this model.
Not only did they call me back, but explained what the problem was (see below). In the meantime, I have been using this model, and it works great. Makes wonderful foam, I can mix in Hershey's and Splenda to make low calorie, sweet chocolate foam for the cafe mocha. The only downside to this model, as opposed to the less expensive ones, is that if you are only making one beverage, you will be wasting a lot of milk, but for me the stainless steel bottom makes that worth it.
The downside? You have to clean this after each use. Seriously. Clean it. Well. And don't use it wet. That's in the instructions, and if you don't it will burn the milk or not work.
As far as the beater not working, the beater assembly comes apart to clean, and if you don't snap it back together completely, the bottom beater will not turn. Oops.
on June 10, 2009
I purchased this product early in March of this year because I was looking for a quality milk frother to use with my Nespresso Le Cube. I had previously used the original Aeroccino, however its capacity was an issue in addition to an electrical failure after less than a year of use.
Upon doing some extensive research, it seemed this Froth Au Lait Professional was *the* frother to own. All the reviews on this site seemed to indicate it was the best thing to come along since the discovery of milk itself. Although the price was high, I decided the stainless steel model would provide better longevity as compared to its cheaper, plastic-based sibling.
When I first opened the package, the first thing I noticed was its size. It was 3-4 times larger than the Aeroccino, and seemed pretty well built. The pitcher contained a long post jutting from the bottom, with a rather sharp edge at the top (more on this later). The plastic frothing paddles drop onto the top of this post.
The first time I used this frother, it delivered great frothed milk. It was at the right temperature for me (hot, but not scalding), and its capacity seemed just right. However this is where all the positive aspects of the frother end.
This product has several design flaws, in addition to poor customer service. The following were issues I encountered/observed, and may not bother other people, but they were big problems for me.
First, even though the pitcher is large, it is not easy to clean due to the metal post jutting from the bottom. Residual milk tends to burn at the bottom, so a scouring pad of some kind is required to completely clean it. I ended up scraping my hands a couple of times on the post trying to get the bottom completely clean. It would've been nice if the top of the post was ground down or smoothed out, or re-designed with a curved edge.
Second, the frothing paddles were designed to break apart into 3 pieces so that they may be cleaned thoroughly (in a restaurant setting, for example). Having to break apart 3 plastic pieces every time I clean and then reassembling them makes me nervous that over time, the connections will wear down and eventually not snap together again. The lid was also designed to break into 2 parts (so the user may add ingredients via a small window during frothing), but I had the same concerns mostly because I want to make sure all the parts are clean after every use.
Third, I noticed that with each use, milk seems to somehow get underneath the paddles and flow down the metal post of the pitcher, eventually drying on the motorized base. It's not much, but I didn't notice it at first until I went to wipe down the base after a few uses and noticed crusted milk around the motor post.
Finally, I got the run-around when I called Froth Au Lait's customer service. It was the co-owner/owner's wife (Lynn) that I spoke to. I called to express my dissatisfaction and wanted to return the unit, but was told they could not accept returns because it was used. I politely responded that since they had no formal returns policy on their website or their advertisement on Amazon, they should take it back. She then told me she would have to speak with her husband the owner, and designer of the product. Maybe it's just me, but when I call a company, anyone who answers the phone should be have a returns policy in front of them to recite or at least tell me I should've looked at some link or documentation before I purchased the unit (which does not exist). What followed was a 20 minute long discussion (mostly from Lynn) who gave me suggestions on how to clean the unit, and that I did not have to break apart all the pieces every time during cleaning.
So with all that being said, I am giving this product 2 stars because while it did work, there were problems and I as a customer was not satisfied at the end of the day. The maintainability of a product and customer support for said product weighs heavily in my opinion. I eventually sold the unit to someone who was looking for this particular model, and purchased an Aeroccino+ which i've been very happy with.
on November 18, 2008
I work at home and drink copious amounts of decaf lattes. I'd used a Krups coffee/expresso/foam machine, but the foaming mechanism was erratic, and I had to replace two machines in the last five years. I decided to find a really good foamer and discovered Froth au Lait on the Web. When I called, one of the owners answered. She confirmed my sense that the professional version would be the one to buy, despite the price tag. I love it. This summer, when friends stayed in my apartment while I was gone, they used it and left a note saying it was the "best machine known to man." It's hyperbole, but I do appreciate always having reliable foam. When the foaming stopped a week ago, I called and learned that I hadn't snapped the whip properly. I followed the instructions and have had no more problems. The customer service is good via e-mail and phone. As an added bonus, it makes good whipped cream, too.
on January 3, 2009
This is a great product, a bit expensive, but it works well. It takes between 1 and 2 cups of milk heating it up and frothing it to about 1 ½ times the original volume. The frothing takes place as a lower blade spins and throws the milk against an upper blade which spins at a lower rate. That throwing around aerates the milk producing the froth. This means that if you put less than a cup of milk you will not be throwing milk far enough to froth it, and if you put more than 2 cups both blades will be turning together and you will also not produce froth. The spinning is provided by a shaft in the base. The heating of the milk is done by an element embedded in the pitcher itself. That means you cannot immerse the pitcher in water, but it is put together well enough that you can wash it under the faucet - making sure you do not allow water to get in the electrical connection.
I do my drinks on large 2 cup (500 ml) mugs. I find that frothing 1 cup of milk is the perfect amount for my mug and 2 shots of espresso. If frothing for 2 mugs you have to be very careful not to put too much milk or else you will not get froth as mentioned above.
As far as I can tell there is no way to control the temperature of the milk, but I find that it heats it to my taste.
I wish it came with a second larger pitcher or a second set of shaft/blades so that I could froth larger quantities of milk when it is convenient to do so. As is, because I do large mugs, I can only froth for 2 at a time. After which I need to rinse the pitcher under cold water to lower its temperature and dry it before adding the next batch of milk.
Better and faster that I can do with a steam wand :)
on July 10, 2012
This is one of my favorite items in the kitchen. I use it every day. Like it so much that bought one for our boat as well. Also bought them as gifts for parents and all of our children so that I can enjoy my cappucino when visiting their homes. Have recommended the larger version for restaurants. It is so easy to use, easy to clean and SO MUCH BETTER than the steam machines in terms of results. After I have served it to friends, several have bought them. There is also a heat on/off addition which makes wonderful desserts (a meringue like whipped cream) out of skim milk. It is really a wonderful product.
on December 23, 2012
As I had read in another review, this product is good for occasional use, but not for ongoing needs of a small cafe. I have three (one is a larger unit) and after using for just over a month each, two are on the fritz. When they do work they work great! The froth is lovely and makes a nice chai or steamed milk. Only wish is was more rugged as it is one of the only NSF options on the market.
on March 10, 2009
For years, I have striven for the perfect foam. I tried the battery whips, Mr. Coffee cappuccino maker, etc. After my husband complained that the noise from the Mr. Coffee woke him up, he purchased this machine for my birthday.
The foam is great. Yes, you must make sure the whips are secure for both to work, but the ease --- you pour in the milk, you hit the button, and in a minute or two, you have the perfect firm, foamy, froth.
I followed the directions in the book, and my cats got a small, plastic piece. Oh, no, I had an expensive frother I couldn't use. I called the company and got the president herself. She couldn't have been nicer. She explained that you really don't have to take the rod apart and deal with the small plastic piece, and she is sending me a new rod for free. I bought the machine through Amazon, not her company directly, and I was amazed at their offer for free. I would have gladly paid for a replacement, but she wouldn't hear of it.
Wonderful product, great customer support, and the best foam ever. Buy it.
on February 8, 2010
Froth au Lait Pro-S10 is The One to Beat! It's hard to imagine anyone can do froth better than Froth au Lait. We've used Pro S-10 for 6 months, and it's simply superb! Not even the best coffee bars in Italy can beat this elegant, yet simple, machine for making superb froth. Thick, beautiful froth holds its composure nearly to the last sip of a home-made cappuccino. Friends and neighbors are astounded, returning often for "another of Debbie's marvelous frothed drinks." Before owning the Froth au Lait Pro-S10, we tried the Nespresso unit and several others. Our experience says there is no other frother in the world that can produce the superb frothed milk created by the Pro-S10. As priced, this product is an excellent value for the froth discerning afficionado.
on May 23, 2009
I have used this frother for about 6 months and love it. The reason I don't give it a 5 is that it IS something of a chore to clean. I've read all the reviews, and tried all the brushes and techniques to find ease in cleaning, but when it comes down to it, you cannot just simply put it in the dishwater and scrub it up. The milk cooks to the bottom surface and because you cannot submerse it, you HAVE to get down to the bottom with a scrubber, brush, whatever, else you will NOT get all the cooked milk out.
That being said, its a fabulous machine. I find that if I let it soak, then use a sponge with the light scrubber to push down to the bottom. I still have to run my fingernail around the edges to get that last bit of hardened milk out.