You probably know all about buying only the freshest beans, grinding them to perfection and brewing the perfect cup of coffee, but what about the milk you use? Surely that choice deserves some attention too.
How to choose the best milk for coffee depends on a number of factors, including personal preference and dietary needs. Different types of milk are also suited to different brewing methods, and that’s a good place to start.
Baristas claim that the milk you choose affects the flavour and texture of your brew.
Because drip coffee is generally weaker than other brewing methods, it’s important to choose a milk that doesn’t water it down. Half-and-half or light cream is the best choice. Good coffee cream should have between 10 and 18 percent fat; beyond that it can leave an oily residue on the surface of your coffee.
A traditional cappuccino contains approximately equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foam. You want a milk that will produce decent foam and taste rich enough to balance the strong coffee flavor, so whole milk (4 percent fat) is best. Keep in mind that a cappuccino is traditionally only about 5 or 6 ounces, so the calories shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
A latte contains a higher proportion of milk, and is usually a larger serving size than a cappuccino. For this reason, you may prefer using a lower fat milk such as 2 percent or 1 percent just to keep the calories in check. A 20-ounce latte is not a reasonable serving size for anyone on a regular basis, but if you do drink very large lattes it’s best to use skim milk. Low-fat milk has the advantage of producing more foam, even if the taste is not as rich.
Espresso is generally served black, but can also be served macchiato or con panna. A traditional macchiato is a shot of espresso topped with foam and sometimes a small amount of steamed whole milk added as well. The more decadent espresso con panna is an espresso shot topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Most milk consumed in America comes from cows, with goat milk as a distant second. Some people prefer the flavor of goat milk and find it easier to digest due to its lower lactose content and different protein structure. In Britain, some baristas are starting to get excited about camel milk, but this product hasn’t made inroads into the North American market yet.
If you’re a vegan or are unable to drink dairy milk, there are alternatives available. The most common non-dairy milks are soy, rice, almond and coconut. Out of these options, coconut milk will give you the richest flavor, with almond milk as a close second. None of these milks foam up as well as dairy milk when steamed, but they still produce a very pleasant tasting drink.
Whatever kind of coffee you’re making at home, with a little knowledge and experimentation you can find the right milk to complement your brew perfectly.
Choosing the best coffee milk is directly connected to the taste of coffee. The above was a small guide to help you in choosing one for your cup and with some little experiments in brands, you will surely find the best milk for your coffee. Happy Coffeeing!