Indepth Breakdown on how different milks react to different scenarios of making drinks using barista equipment

As milk or milk alternatives, vegan and non lactose options for example, are used in the creation of most drinks that a barista would be making, it is vital that you understand the ins and outs of milk and its different forms, so that you can competently make drinks for any customers needs. The following article is a breakdown of some different aspects of most regularly used milks, written by one of our barista’s who trained at the London school of coffee with the best baristas around.

Filtered Milk, The Best Milk To Use

We recommend filtered milk above all different types of milk that we have tried using in the making of drinks. It textures easier than almost any other milk, and compared to full fat cream milk an opened bottle of filtered milk can be used for a long time after being opened without an instant drop down in quality, which is the case with full fat normal milk that has been opened for some time.

Soya Milk

Soya milk is really healthy, naturally lower fat and has fewer calories than a coffee with dairy milk. Soya milk offers a alternative to dairy and already in 2011 there been a 20 % increase in sales. One key insight gained so far is that coffee with soya milk is more sensitive to heat and as a result should be not be steamed over 65 degrees which may cause it to curdle. To help with this Alpro soya now includes an anti-curdling ingredient. By abiding by this steaming rule , you guarantee a creamy silky taste.

Full Cream Milk

Full cream milk is the most basic and common type of milk used and helps give a better taste to the coffee, it also improves the making of flat whites because Full fat produces foam with a better body which helps get the perfect texture needed for a flat white. but full cream milk is the most sensitive to temperature storage change.

Semi Skimmed Milk

Reduced fat milk semi has had some of the fat removed. The amount varies with different brands and is favoured by customers conscious of fat levels as it fits the gap between full and skimmed. Its also less sensitive than full milk.

Skimmed Milk

Skimmed milk is used for skinny drinks, it has a more watery taste and lower fat levels, don’t overheat

Pasteurised Milk

Pasteurised milk has been heated and quickly cooled, this increases shelf life and being left out on counters by mistake.

UHT Milk

UHT has been heated to a very high temperature, this ultra heat treatment allows the milk to be stored out of a refrigerator until opened. Also referred to as long life milk, this milk has become very popular abroad due to warmer climates and used on coffee carts where refrigeration is a problem.

Testing your milks

you can test your milk by pouring it into a glass, you should have bubbles on the surface. the longer the bubbles last the easier it is to foam and and will increase the more foam you will make. Test this daily as part of your daily routine. if there is no bubbles or they have gone in 2 seconds the milk will provide very poor foam or none at all. If you find this problem test with a different batch number and check the date, if its old or close to its end date this affects the milk and its foaming capabilities. if this happens we’d recommend Changing supplier because it may mean way before you receive the milk to take care of it yourself, it’s already had a ‘up and down’ life. For example, left out on a trolley outside at lorry dept or Supermarket, and has already began to warm up and then re-cooled again when they eventually put it in a refrigerator, warming and re-cooling the milk too many times reduces the protein and in result makes less bubbles for our glass test(proves it isn’t good milk) as your steam wand attacks these bubbles straight away to produce the foam or small dense bubbles. If you find a winner then stay with it, repeatedly changing the milk will affect your coffee taste, for example all semi skinned milk does not taste the same.

Check out our Alternative Milk's breakdown article

To help people navigate the large, ever increasing, variety of plant-based milks and other alternatives, we’ve written up a blog post going over the most popular types of these products, explaining things like their unique tastes and how well they can be worked with a steam arm on a coffee machine to, for example, see how easily these milks can create and maintain microfoam. If you want to stay relevant in the modern world, then you need to be able to provide these sorts of alternatives to your customers who will all have different preferences and dietary needs.


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