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What Milk is the Best for Coffee? A Crash Course - 13 Types of Milk!

When it comes to your daily cup of coffee, the choice of milk can make all the difference. From traditional dairy to a wide array of non-dairy alternatives, each type of milk brings its unique qualities to the table, influencing the flavour and texture of your brew.


Why Does the Milk Matter So Much?


Traditionally, milk is predominantly composed of protein molecules. As you heat the milk, these proteins "melt," creating a foam-like texture by trapping air. This foam contributes to the creaminess and mouthfeel of your coffee. However, the composition and performance of each type of milk, be it dairy or non-dairy, can vary significantly, resulting in different outcomes for your coffee.


In this crash course, we'll explore 11 types of milk and their impact on your coffee experience, so you can navigate the fascinating world of milk with confidence, and create your ultimate cup of cafe-quality coffee at home!

Witch Coffee Red Label coffee bag on a table with different types of milk used for coffee

WHOLE MILK


Whole milk is milk that contains the highest fat content among the three main options: whole, reduced-fat, and skim milk. It typically contains around 3-4% fat, which gives it a rich, creamy texture. When choosing milk for coffee, a general rule of thumb applies: the higher the fat content, the richer and creamier the taste. Whole milk's creaminess provides a luxurious mouthfeel when added to coffee. It has a well-rounded flavour, offering a balance between sweetness and richness, and is the best choice for Witch Coffee single-serve coffee bags. The higher fat content contributes to a fuller body and a smooth, velvety consistency in your coffee.


Black coffee typically has a naturally high acidity level, with a pH around 4.5, which can result in a slightly bitter taste. To counterbalance this bitterness, many coffee lovers opt to add milk to their brew.


Reduced-Fat Milk

Reduced-fat milk, such as 1% or 2%, can be a good choice for those looking to cut down on fat. However, compared to whole milk, they lose some of the sweetness and body, which may lead to a slightly weaker and watery latte or cappuccino.


Skim milk,

Although containing little to no fat, skin milk surprisingly retains some of the natural sweetness found in milk. While its lighter body doesn't add much density to brewed coffee, when steamed, skim milk creates a drier and denser head of foam. Great for those seeking a leaner option with a hint of sweetness.

product photography of a glass of soy milk, with a bowl of soy beans and a jar of flavours against a minimalistic background

SOY MILK

Soy milk has become a popular plant-based alternative to dairy milk in coffee. Paired with good quality coffee, soy milk's nutty, creamy flavour can even enhance the taste of your favourite blend.


What Does Soy Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


When blended with coffee, soy milk introduces a smooth and light texture that enhances the overall mouthfeel of your drink. Its unique taste profile combines subtle nuttiness with a hint of natural sweetness. The delicate flavours of soy milk harmoniously complement the bitterness of black coffee, creating a well-balanced and satisfying taste experience.


Is Soy Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


Absolutely! Thanks to its similar protein levels and performance when heated, soy milk can replicate the smooth and foamy textures typically found in dairy milk. This makes it an ideal choice for espresso-based beverages like lattes and cappuccinos. However, be aware of curdling.


Why Does Soy Milk Curdle?


Soy milk can curdle due to a reaction between the coffee's natural acidity and the proteins in the soy milk, which can be off-putting for some coffee enthusiasts. When exposed to heat or acidity, the proteins in soy milk can coagulate, leading to the formation of small, lumpy particles. This curdling can affect the texture and appearance of your coffee, creating an undesirable grainy consistency.


How to Prevent Soy Milk from Curdling?


Temperature Control: Avoid pouring boiling hot coffee directly onto soy milk. Allow the coffee to cool slightly before adding the milk to reduce the risk of curdling.


Acidity Reduction: Consider adding a splash of water to your coffee to lower its acidity, which may help reduce the likelihood of curdling.


Heat Gradually: When steaming or frothing soy milk, heat it gradually and avoid overheating. Use a gentle and steady approach to reach the desired temperature.


Barista-Style Soy Milk: Some brands like Happy Happy Soy Boy and Bonsoy offer barista-style soy milk specifically formulated to withstand higher temperatures and resist curdling in coffee. These products can be a good option if you regularly use soy milk for espresso-based drinks.


A milk jug containing almond milk on a wooden table with almonds scattered around

ALMOND MILK


Almond milk, crafted from almonds and water, offers a delightful plant-based alternative with a unique taste profile that complements various coffee styles.


What Does Almond Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


When added to coffee, almond milk imparts a smooth and light texture that elevates the overall mouthfeel of your drink. Its delightful nuttiness blends seamlessly with coffee, creating a harmonious union of flavours. Almond milk's rich and nutty undertones pair exceptionally well with medium-roast coffee beans, allowing the delicate flavours of the coffee to shine through in perfect balance.


Is Almond Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


Almond milk's natural sweetness is a standout feature, which plays a key role in balancing the bitterness of black coffee, resulting in a well-rounded and pleasurable cup. For those seeking a dairy-free option or a subtly nutty twist in their coffee, almond milk is a favoured choice.


However, it's important to note that almond milk's consistency is almost as thin as water and contains fewer proteins compared to dairy milk. So, your coffee may not be as rich and creamy compared to traditional dairy milk.


COCONUT MILK


Cherished for its creamy and naturally dense properties, coconut milk brings a touch of indulgence to your coffee. Rich in healthy fats, it adds a luscious and delightful dimension to your brew.


What Does Coconut Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


As you'd expect, coconut milk delivers a pronounced and delightful coconut flavour to your coffee. Its naturally sweet and nutty notes blend harmoniously, creating an exotic-like taste profile. While it may add a unique twist to the coffee experience, some coffee enthusiasts appreciate this tropical infusion, while others may prefer a more traditional coffee flavour.


Is Coconut Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


Coconut milk can add a unique, sweet and nutty flavour to coffee, which can enrich or enhance the natural taste of the coffee. However, coconut milk's foam can have a quicker disintegration rate. Nevertheless, the captivating flavour and texture it brings to your coffee more than compensate for this minor difference, providing an unforgettable and enchanting coffee experience.

Witch Coffee Black Label coffee bag in a latte, made with coconut milk

OAK MILK


Oat milk is celebrated for its plethora of beneficial components, making it a standout choice for health-conscious coffee enthusiasts. Void of saturated fat but brimming with protein, fibre and natural sweetness, oat milk brings a nutritious punch to your daily brew. Additionally, oats contain beta-glucans, which contribute to heart health and help lower cholesterol levels.


What Does Oat Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


As anticipated, oat milk imparts a distinct wheaty flavour, accompanied by delightful malty notes. Many coffee drinkers already favour these malty undertones, making oat milk a great rival to traditional cow's milk. Its unique taste adds a special twist to your coffee, transforming your morning cup into a delightful and wholesome experience.


Is Oat Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


Oat milk's naturally thick, buttery, and creamy texture positions it alongside dairy milk in terms of both texture and flavour. Its ability to stretch and create a lovely foam is a bonus, enhancing the visual appeal of your coffee creations. However, like many other plant-based milks, oat milk can split when subjected to high heat or acidity, so some care is needed when using it in coffee.

A sealed glass jar containing cashew milk, next to a table of cashews

CASHEW MILK


Cashew milk, echoing similarities to cow's milk, offers a delightful and creamy addition to your coffee. While it may come at a premium due to the cost of cashew nuts, its natural sweetness and pleasant texture make it a compelling choice for coffee enthusiasts.


What Does Cashew Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


When added to coffee, cashew milk offers a unique taste profile that carries less nuttiness compared to other nut milks. Instead, it treats you to a delightful sample of its natural creamy sweetness.


Is Cashew Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


Indeed, cashew milk makes a decent choice for coffee. While it provides a satisfactory "stretch" when frothed, it produces larger bubbles, resulting in foam that is less dense and reminiscent of a bubble bath texture. If you enjoy a touch of natural sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel in your coffee, cashew milk's unique qualities make it an appealing option for both coffee enthusiasts and those seeking a plant-based alternative to dairy milk.


RICE MILK


Rice milk, a dairy-free alternative void of nuts and soy, is a popular choice for coffee drinkers with nut allergies and lactose intolerance. However, it doesn’t contain any protein so it won’t keep you feeling full for very long.


What Does Rice Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


Its light and refreshing nature sets it apart from other plant-based milks. In coffee, rice milk imparts a neutral taste, allowing the coffee's flavour to shine. However, its watery consistency may dilute the coffee's intensity.


Is Rice Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


While rice milk is a suitable option for those seeking a dairy-free and nut-free alternative, it may not be the ideal choice for specialty coffees due to its lack of protein. As a result, it does not produce the foam-like texture commonly found in specialty coffee drinks. However, for coffee lovers who prefer a lighter and less creamy option, rice milk offers a refreshing twist to their daily brew.

A wooden bowl containing hemp seeds next to a bowl of hemp milk, on a wooden table flatlay

HEMP MILK


Hemp milk is a plant-based milk alternative made from hemp seeds and water. Hemp milk is rich in essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These beneficial fats play a crucial role in supporting heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation.



What Does Hemp Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


Hemp milk brings a unique and nutty flavour to coffee, but some people find the strong flavour off-putting, When added to coffee, it imparts a creamy and slightly earthy taste that complements the coffee's robustness. The nutty undertones of hemp milk create a distinctive and enjoyable coffee experience.


Is Hemp Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?

Hemp milk tends to have a creamier texture compared to other nut and seed-based milk alternatives. Its natural creaminess results from the high-fat content in hemp seeds, providing a smooth and velvety consistency. However, it's worth considering that hemp milk has a strong flavour from hemp seeds, which can be overwhelming for some coffee lovers.


A glass cup of macadamia milk used to make Witch Coffee coffee.

MACADAMIA MILK


Macadamia milk is a luxurious and creamy plant-based milk alternative, renowned for its velvety consistency, making it one of the creamiest options available. This dairy-free delight has become a favoured choice among coffee enthusiasts looking to elevate their coffee experience with its rich and indulgent texture.


What Does Macadamia Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


Macadamia milk is a luxurious and creamy plant-based milk alternative that has gained popularity among coffee enthusiasts. Its rich and velvety texture brings a decadent touch to coffee, providing a luscious and indulgent experience. Macadamia milk's subtle nutty flavour beautifully complements the coffee's taste, enhancing its richness without overpowering the delicate coffee notes.


Is Macadamia Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


Macadamia milk boasts a delightful natural sweetness with vanilla-like flavours, eliminating the need for added sugars. This makes it a perfect complement to cold brew or French press coffee, adding a pleasant splash of sweetness to your daily brew.


HAZELNUT MILK


What Does Hazelnut Milk Taste Like in Coffee?


A lot of coffees have hazelnut undertones, so hazelnut milk helps to enhance and invigorate these flavours. However, hazelnut milk might be a little too nutty for some people.

Is Hazelnut Milk a Good Choice for Coffee?


While it may not have the creamiest texture, hazelnut milk is a great option for those seeking a flavourful and smooth addition to their coffee, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Also, it doesnt tend to curdle under certain conditions, unlike soy milk.


WHAT IS BARISTA MILK?


Barista milk isn’t just same fancy label on milk packaging; it is specifically crafted for coffee enthusiasts. The term signifies that the milk is intentionally designed to enhance the coffee experience. It boasts excellent texturing capabilities, maintaining a silky smooth mouthfeel even at high temperatures. Moreover, barista milk is formulated to prevent splitting or curdling when mixed with espresso coffee, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable coffee preparation process. Its carefully crafted flavour profile is intended to complement and elevate coffee without overpowering its aromatic nuances, making it a preferred choice for coffee enthusiasts seeking a superior and harmonious coffee pairing.


What’s the Difference Between Barista Milk and Regular Milk?

The main difference between barista milk and regular milk lies in their formulation and characteristics. Barista milk is specifically designed for coffee, offering a more stable and steam-friendly texture, making it ideal for latte art and consistent pouring. It may have a higher fat content, providing a creamier texture and smoother, more velvety microfoam, or contain regulators to preserve the original taste. In contrast, regular milk is not optimized for coffee preparation and may not offer the same pouring and texturing capabilities as barista milk.

Barista milk packaging is tailored for pro baristas, featuring speedy twist-off lids for improved speed of service, especially during busy morning rushes. The design considerations make it convenient and efficient for baristas to work seamlessly in fast-paced coffee environments.

Does Barista Milk Taste Like Normal Milk?

Barista milk tastes similar to normal milk, but there are slight differences. It often has a creamier taste, possibly due to a higher fat content and a milder flavour to complement coffee without overpowering it. The specific formulation of barista milk makes it an ideal choice for coffee enthusiasts seeking a harmonious coffee-milk combination.

What’s the Difference between Heavy Cream, Half-and-half, and Coffee Creamer?


Heavy cream, half-and-half, and coffee creamer are all dairy-based options commonly used in coffee. Heavy cream has the highest fat content (36-40%) and imparts a rich and creamy texture to coffee. Half-and-half is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream, offering a lighter texture and moderate creaminess. Coffee creamer is a non-dairy store-bought powder or liquid used in place of a milk product. Instead of dairy, it's made of sugar or sugar substitutes, oil and thickeners.


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