Does milk make a difference to the coffee you serve?

Does milk make a difference to the coffee you serve?

How much does milk affect the taste of the coffee you serve in your business? Many elements impact the flavour of coffee, from the beans you use, to how they are roasted, filtered and ground. But how much difference does milk make on the final cup? 

In this blog, we share the best milk for coffee and what you need to consider when selecting milk for your customers. 

Why do we put milk in coffee? 

There are plenty of people who love a long black but why put milk in coffee in the first place (aside from creating great latte art)? 

Coffee is a naturally acidic drink. By adding milk, we can balance out this acidity. This is great for our gut balance as it reduces acid reflux.  For customers who prefer a sweeter coffee taste, milk will give them this before adding syrups or sugar.  On a scientific level, the proteins in milk bind to the tannins in coffee which create the bitter taste. While tannins are good for us, they are not for everyone’s tastebuds. 

What milk works best in coffee? 

The higher the fat content, the better the taste of coffee. This is why when asked most baristas will say whole milk.  When we’re serving coffee out on the road or at North Middlesex Hospital, we use milk from Jersey cows because this is the best milk paired with our wholesale beans. 

However, you need to balance the quality of milk with the costs of your business. Milk is part of your overheads, along with wholesale coffee, so your preference may be for different wholesale brands of milk. 

Ideally, you want to be looking for a high-fat content to get that creamy, smooth flavour in your cup. Many customers will be concerned about the calories to cup so making sure you’ve got the freshest semi-skimmed and skimmed options will help balance out the lower fat levels in these milks. 

Which is the best milk for latte art? 

Milk with around 3% fat creates the best microfoam where the air can be trapped in bubbles. Academic studies have found that many variables in milk can affect how easy it is to foam. So suggesting one type of milk over another depends on the properties of the milk such as origin, age, diet of the cows, and its fat content. Also, the variables in the foaming process make a difference in how well it foams. 

Our best advice is to test your milk options and keep having a play with foaming to find what works best for your equipment and baristas. You can then advise your customers so they get the best drink for their tastes. 

How does plant milk make a difference to coffee? 

There is no denying that plant milk gives coffee a different flavour. Even the multitude of plant milk bases can impact the taste of the coffee. That’s before you consider the different variations of say soya milk or oat milk in the cup. 

Again, you’ll need to experiment and find the best brands for your barista. Remember, as with cow’s milk, plant milk works best with a higher fat content. This is achieved through the oil content of plant milk.  Oat milk is likely to get you the nearest taste to cow’s milk but it’s up for debate which is the best plant milk for coffee taste. 

Pros and cons of milk in coffee

There is some research which suggests that black coffee can help exercise performance and by adding milk, you are increasing the calorie count in the cup. Equally, there is other research that suggests milk helps you better absorb the natural antioxidants in coffee. Certainly, adding milk increases how much water you consume in a cup but overall, whether you prefer your coffee black or milky comes down to personal tastes. 

Understanding how your customers want their coffee and the kinds of milk they prefer is the most important factor for a small business. 

We recommend the best quality, fresh Jersey cow milk for using with our wholesale beans to deliver the best taste but you’ll need to experiment with what works well for your customers. 

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