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by Alex Sipneuski August 08, 2019

Milk & coffee. For some, essential - for others, an abomination. I for one couldn’t stand the thought of starting my day any other way than a piping hot cup of strong, black coffee straight from the pot - but then again, there’s nothing quite like a rich, silky Flat White post-lunch. According to a recent survey we did of you guys, nearly 60% of you have milk in your coffee regardless of time of day or type of beans - so we thought we’d get a little article together giving you a couple of tips on how to upgrade your milk and coffee game. I mean, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right, right?

(for those of you not drinking dairy, no need to leave just yet - we’ve got the lowdown on some cracking milk alternatives as well)

First things first - Temperature

Never put cold milk in hot coffee. Ever. We really can’t stress this enough. It kills the flavour of the coffee, smothering the more delicate flavours of your brew and quite frankly ruining what should be a lovely cup of coffee.

Room temperature works well, but ideally you want a bit of heat in there to match the coffee, so why not just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds before adding to your coffee? For a classic milky coffee (think latte or cappuccino) you want the milk at around 60/70 degrees celsius

Second things second - Texture (or, how to make your milk frothy)

Now, the second most important thing is texture, especially when it comes to creating those proper coffee-shop brews. Effectively, it’s all about getting air bubbles into your milk, creating a frothy, foamy dairy deliciousness. There are several ways to do this, but if you haven’t got a frothing wand or small electric whisk to hand, maybe this will help:

Method I - Jam Jar

This is literally what it sounds like. Get some milk, pop it in a jam jar and shake. For as long as you can. Then wait 20 seconds and do it again. For best results, pop it in the microwave for a couple of seconds (no longer) to stabilise the bubbles.

Method II - Cafetière (French Press)

Using a french press to froth milk has stemmed from the use of a pump frother. This method is done by pouring warm milk into the french press and pump up and down. Holding the lid down with your hands for 10 seconds, again and again.

Third - What coffee to use with milk

Some coffee is just better suited for milk, and it’s really just a bit of common sense that will tell you which of our coffees will take milk and which won’t. Generally, the roast level gives you a pretty good idea - for instance, our Dark Roast is probably the best suited out of all our blends for milk, whereas our Light Roast would just end up insipid and tasteless. But this does get a bit more complicated, as roast level does not necessarily mean that the resulting coffee has the body and depth to handle milk.

For reference, here’s a quick list of our current Nespresso® compatible pods, and how they perform...

    • Light Roast - Not Suited. The only way we’d recommend having milk with our Light Roast is as a macchiato or cortado; just a splash of warm milk in a small espresso.

    • Decaf - Good. It’s medium-dark roast holds milk well, but be sure to use 2 pods if you’re making a big mug of something frothy.

    • Intense Roast - Good. Whilst it will take milk no problem, the Intense blend is really meant to be drunk as a short black espresso or longer americano.

    • Colombian - Great. Let’s face it - our Colombian is just great at everything, and that includes milk.

    • Dark Roast - Excellent. Big body, deep flavours - this pod was pretty much made for milk.

    • Espresso Blend - Excellent. Same as the Dark Roast, but gives a much smoother, creamier finish - perfect for a Flat White.

    • Indian - Excellent. Spice and earthiness makes our Indian a much more specialist brew, but you have to be careful not to drown these added flavours in too much milk.

Fourth - What milk to use if you don’t drink dairy

Oat milk

Oat milk is #ourCRU’s favourite. It’s made from a combination of oats and water (sometimes with a little bit of canola oil), and this results in a full bodied non-dairy milk which has a creamy & rich texture, mimicking that of full-fat dairy milk in coffee. Oat milk can also be foamed due to the lower protein content, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to get a proper frothy coffee. It’s also packed full of fibre, so there’s that as well.

Soy Milk

Affordable, with a smooth, neutral taste. Many soy milk brands do not leave a noticeable aftertaste so if you’re adding milk to curb the more ‘bitter’ excesses of your coffee, this is a great alternative to choose. It can split when added to hot coffee however, so a little hack try pouring warm soy milk into your serving cup and slowly adding the coffee afterwards.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of the most popular nut-milks to use in coffee but does have a bitter aftertaste due to the additional nutty flavours. If you want to avoid this try, we recommend trying a sweetened alternative. Unfortunately, almond milk can curdle in coffee for the same reasons as soy milk: temperature and acidity. To combat curdling, avoid pouring cold almond milk into very hot coffee. Its reaction with the acidity of your coffee or espresso may vary from brand to brand, so be sure to try several options if you want to make almond milk a mainstay on your beverage menu.

You can create a silky foam with almond milk, but this non-dairy milk has a tendency to separate when heated. Latte art made with almond milk may look nice on top of the beverage's foamy layer, but it could leave a watery drink underneath.

Alex Sipneuski
Alex Sipneuski

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