gainesville's brew

milk

why is milk crucial to good coffee drinks?

There is much to say about steaming milk, but since this site's goal is customer oriented, it will not presume to speak of advanced things. The following are several factors to consider about milk when ordering a drink. You might even be able to notice whether your barista did his or her job well.

#1 you asked for milk, not foam!

Contrary to popular belief, lattes and cappuccinos should not be too foamy (It is, however, common practice to make cappuccinos with thick foam). If you receive a drink topped with a glob of foam, unless you asked for it that way, ask your barista the following question: where is the microfoam?

Microfoam refers to an ideal level of milk steaming. It's a heavy, consistent texture that resembles wet, white paint. There should be no layers after steaming. It should be one consistent pour.

The mark of well steamed milk, given quality-pulled espresso, is a Rosetta, which is essentially a leaf drawn with the microfoam using the crema of the espresso as a background in the beverage. Other art, like hearts and swans, can also be poured with well-steamed milk and quality espresso crema.

#2 whole, skim, or other?

Though steaming milk adds a richness to any milk, whole milk, because of the fats it contains, will always be richer. And when it comes to coffee, richer is usually better.

Whole milk takes longer to stretch than skim milk. In other words, for the barista it is easier to control than skim milk. For the customer it means that whole milk is harder to mess up than skim. You are less likely to end up with a glob of foam on top with whole milk than with skim milk.

The problem is that skim milk stretches more quickly, meaning that it is much easier to separate the foam from the body of the milk.

But regardless of the richness of the milk, whether whole or skim milk tastes better is certainly subjective. We simply wanted to give you some basic knowledge about what goes into steaming wither whole or skim milk. You make the choice.

Milk alternatives are becoming popular in most coffeehouses. You can now find soy, almond, and other milks to mix with espresso. However, these don't steam as ideally as whole or skim milk. Attaining microfoam with one of these alternatives is much more difficult for baristas.