Milk and Milk Alternatives

latte pouring

Unless you drink an espresso or americano, there’s milk in your coffee. But what do you actually know about the impact of milk when making your morning java? We focus so much on the quality of the coffee and the grind that it can be easy to forget this key ingredient.

The big three milky coffees are the latte, cappuccino, and the flat white. With so many milk and milk alternatives out there, the personalisation can be vast. Ultimately, however, the milk is heated, frothed, and combined with the espresso shot to create your ideal drink.

Fat Content

The taste, texture, and consistency of coffee can be affected by milk depending on the type that is used. The biggest influence is the fat content. Full fat milk gives you a sweet and creamy texture, which is good for less bitterness and acidity. Great for making a rich and creamy drink, but not so good if you want to savour the fruity taste from the coffee. The lower the fat content in the milk, the less “thick” the coffee will be.

Image of milk

What Makes Milk Foam?

Another factor to consider is the protein. The level of protein in cow’s milk is an essential when it comes to creating tiny bubbles during steaming/foaming. This allows us to create ‘micro-foam’ which is ideal for creating the perfect milky drink and pretty latte art. Unless specifically added, proteins aren’t found in all non-dairy milk alternatives. Only coconut milk has high enough protein levels to give consistent foaming, although it brings a strong flavour to the coffee. There are also various brands of milk alternatives that add protein to specifically allow for frothing – worth looking into! We use Alpro!

Milk Alternatives

There are so many alternatives to cow’s milk available: soya milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, coconut milk. And all vary in flavour! You may have a preference, but it’s worth trying a variety to find the one that’s right for you. There are pros and cons to each of them. Some say that coconut milk gives too much of a coconut taste to the coffee, and that almond or hazelnut milk is too nutty. There is also a very distinctive difference in sweetness between the many milk alternatives out there. Oat milk and soy milk are quite popular milk alternatives for coffee, but these can have their disadvantages when it comes to milk steaming and foaming, as it is more difficult to produce the silky texture of foamy bubbles that we all expect for our milky drink.

Milk and milk alternatives can really have an impact on how your coffee tastes. Explore each option and experiment with new things – you never know, you might find something new that you love!

Even if you don’t have an espresso machine, it’s still possible to make milky coffee drinks. Here’s our recipe for a warming pumpkin spiced latte. Personalise as you wish!