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by Joseph McCarthy June 28, 2021

Milk & coffee. For some, essential - for others, an abomination. But one thing is for certain, and that’s if you’re going to add milk to your coffee, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. If you’re partial to adding some of that dairy goodness to your brew, check out some of our tips below to upgrade your milk and coffee game.

Not a dairy drinker? Fear not - we’ve also got the lowdown on the best milk alternatives below.

I. Temperature

Never put cold milk in hot coffee. Ever. We really can’t stress this enough, really. 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 to add a bit more heat to match the coffee. An easy cheat? Pop your cup with milk in the microwave for a few seconds before adding the coffee! 
  • Have a steam wand on your machine and fancy a classic milky coffee, like a latte or a cappuccino? You ideally want the milk somewhere between 60-70°C (140-160°F) - this is the optimum temperature to bring out milk’s natural sweetness.

II. What coffee to use with milk

Some coffee is just better suited for milk. Generally, the roast level gives you a pretty good idea; for instance, a darker roast would work better with milk, whereas the lighter roasted coffee would be ‘drowned out’ by milk. 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 list of the different CRU Kafe pods, and how each blend performs with milk:

  • 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, we recommend our Intense blend to be drunk as a short black espresso or longer lungo pour.


      • 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 any milk based drinks!
      • 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.
      • Honduran - Excellent. This chocolate heavy blend is perfect with or without milk.
      • Half Caff - Excellent. Tasting notes of sweet syrups and rich fruits combined with it’s  well-balanced body couple together to create a complex espresso, great with or without milk.

        III. What milk to use if you don’t drink (dairy) milk

        Oat milk

        Oat milk is the favourite alternative to use here at CRU headquarters. It’s made from a combination of oats and water (sometimes with a little bit of oil); this results in a full bodied non-dairy milk which has a creamy and 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. 

        TIP: Soy milk can split when added to hot coffee. To avoid this, try warming the milk first in your cup, then slowly pouring in the coffee after. 

        Almond Milk

        Almond milk is one of the most popular nut-milks to use in coffee, but can 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.

        Joseph McCarthy
        Joseph McCarthy

        Black filter first thing. Head of digital and waterer of office plants.

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