The milk you pick should compliment your coffee, not take it hostage.
Many don’t think twice about the milk that goes into the cappuccino or latte at home or in a café. We just pick a fat level that we think is right, and maybe take a moment to consider if we’d like organic or not.
Choosing milk like this is like picking Miss USA before hearing the answer to her pageant question. We all know that she’s pretty – she looks good in a bikini, and can walk in impossibly high heels (most days).
But the reality is that when she opens her mouth we’ll either be impressed by her sharp knowledge of the effects of global warming on the polar bear population, or we’ll go down in a swirl of pain while she explains in spits and spurts that getting “education better” will help the “problem” at hand. Sigh, we still love ya girl.
So what’s the deal with milk, and what can I tell you about picking the right jug to “getting your coffee drinks better”?
1. Love the fat! That’s right – choose whole milk. Miss USA might be on a crazy diet to squeeze into a sub-zero, but last I checked, regular humans require a health mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat in their diets. The fat in the milk is what makes it creamy and silky. Latte art is easy and slippery to create, and the taste and texture of the milk can’t compare. An 8 oz latte with whole milk at 3.5% has just 2 more grams of fat and 18 more calories that its 2% counterpart. Make a small cup and enjoy it fully.
2. Watch out for too much moo. When milk is heated up it changes in flavor dramatically. Lots of milks out there, especially in the organic category, can taste a little to “farmy”. Of course we’re drinking the feed of calves, and that might be a nice taste to them. For a coffee drink, extra farmy milk can come off pungeant and sour, and totally make your coffee stink like sweaty toes. Don’t blame the coffee – steam your milk and taste it first. You should have a sweet flavor, which will marry with your coffee discreetly instead of taking it hostage.
3. Get pasteurized and homogenized. Sounds like a new proposition on the ballet, but it’s simply describes changes that have been applied to the raw product. Pasteurizing comes in many combinations of heat and time affecting how the milk performs and tastes. Over years of steaming and pouring, I’ve found that pasteurized is my choice over ultra-pasteurized for texture and taste in the cup. Homogenization disperses the fat evenly through the liquid. Don’t have that, and you’re buying ‘cream on top’ product and you will get varying fat content in your steaming pitcher depending on how well or not-well you shook your jug. In a café environment this can lead to inconsistency as the barista gets busy or lazy.
The bottom line, of course, is to follow YOUR taste, diet, budget, & personal sustainability policy. At the end of the day, you’re the one sipping the cup, and since you’re not aiming for the Miss Milk Tiara, we won’t judge.