Which Milk Is Best For Latte Art?

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
Latte Art

Latte Art : Globally, a diverse populace cherishes milk-infused coffee varieties, including flat whites, lattes, and cappuccinos. A notable statistic from 2020 indicates that cow’s milk was utilized in about 91% of coffee drinks, yet the preference for plant-based milks is on an upward trajectory.Latte ArtThe appeal of milk-based coffees extends beyond their creamy consistency and sweet undertones; latte art plays a pivotal role in their popularity.

The visual allure and the finesse in creating the perfect microfoam elevate the coffee experience to new heights.Nevertheless, as the selection of available milks broadens to include more plant-based choices, determining the ideal milk for latte art becomes increasingly complex.For a deeper understanding, insights were sought from three esteemed coffee experts, offering a closer look into the nuances of milk selection for artful coffee creations.

Milk is added to coffee for several reasons

Milk is a dietary staple worldwide, notably cow’s milk, sourced from approximately 270 million cows globally. However, some cultures opt for plant-based alternatives like soy milk. Adding milk to coffee,Latte Art whether in espresso or filter form, is common across many regions.

The primary reason for this practice is to counterbalance coffee’s inherent bitterness, imparting a sweeter and milder taste. Additionally, milk enhances the coffee’s texture, resulting in a smoother and more well-rounded beverage.

Steamed milk further elevates the coffee experience by creating a velvety microfoam, perfect for crafting intricate latte art.Adding milk to coffee is a versatile practice appreciated for its flavor enhancement and textural benefits, contributing to the widespread enjoyment of this beloved beverage.Latte Art

Latte art has garnered widespread popularity for several reasons?

Latte art has surged in popularity due to its enhancement of the coffee drinking experience. According to Alessandro Zengiaro, Technical Lead at Assembly Coffee and Volcano Coffee Works, latte art elevates the sensory enjoyment akin to how aesthetically pleasing dishes improve dining experiences. Studies even show that customers are willing to pay up to 13% more for beverages adorned with high-quality latte art. Baristas also find joy in creating latte art, as it allows them to showcase their skills and engage with the coffee community through events like latte art throwdowns. Additionally, latte art offers a platform for creativity, enabling baristas to rapidly expand their repertoire of skills and patterns, as mentioned by Alexander Ntatsos, owner of Splash Coffee Company.

The Growing Influence of Plant Milks in Coffee Culture

  1. Rising Demand: Despite dairy’s prominence, plant milk sales surged, reaching US $19.1 billion in 2022, driven by a 6% increase 
  2. Diverse Appeal:Latte ArtPlant milks cater to lactose-intolerant individuals and vegans, offering sustainability with a lower carbon footprint compared to cow’s milk
  3. Changing Perceptions: Specialty coffee competitions are embracing plant milks. Instances like Cristian Tellez’s use of oat milk prompted a reevaluation of competition rules, reflecting evolving attitudes
  4. Policy Shifts: Advocacy by industry professionals, such as Suedhang Kaffee, led to policy changes favoring plant milks in competitions. The 2023 World Barista Championship adopted new rules, reflecting broader acceptance
  5. Increased Adoption: Competitors at the 2023 WBC showcased the versatility of plant milks, demonstrating their viability in specialty coffee. This trend underscores the availability of high-quality options and a diverse range of varieties

The trajectory of plant milks in coffee culture reflects a shift towards sustainability and inclusivity, reshaping industry norms.

So Which Milk is Best for Latte Art?

  1. Consumer Expectation: Latte art has become an integral part of serving milk-based beverages, meeting the expectations of discerning consumers.
  2. Training Emphasis: Renata Zanon, an esteemed coffee trainer and consultant, underscores the significance of comprehensive barista training. Mastery of , alongside espresso extraction, is essential for delivering exceptional coffee experiences

Baristas must prioritize honing their skills in both  and espresso preparation to consistently deliver high-quality beverages that meet customer expectations.

Cow’s Milk for Latte Art

Barista Preference: Traditionally, baristas opt for cow’s milk to create latte art due to its ease of use and superior results in microfoam and textureProtein and Fat Content: Cow’s milk contains proteins like whey and casein, crucial for forming stable microfoam. The fat content, ideally between 3% to 3.8%, contributes to silkiness and enhances mouthfeel

Steaming Technique: Steaming dairy milk to a temperature range of 53ºC to 55ºC (127ºF to 131ºF) is recommended for optimal latte art results. This temperature ensures proper breakdown of lactose for increased sweetness and facilitates protein interaction with air and water molecules for microfoam formation

Challenges with Low-Fat Options:Latte Art Low-fat or lactose-free milk varieties may pose challenges for  due to their altered fat content. Changes in a cow’s diet can further impact milk quality and texture, affecting the ease of pouring latte art

Cow’s milk remains the preferred choice among baristas for achieving impeccable latte art due to its inherent composition and ease of manipulation during steaming.

Plant Milks for Latte Art

  1. Variety of Options: There is a wide array of commercially-available plant milks, reflecting the growing demand from customers. Baristas have adapted to this trend, although it wasn’t always easy, as some plant milks perform better than others.
  2. Oat Milk: Oat milk stands out as one of the easiest plant-based milks to work with, according to both Alexander and Alessandro. It offers ease of foaming and pouring, resembling the process with cow’s milk .Latte Art
  3. Almond Milk: Almond milk presents challenges for due to its lower fat content. Alexander suggests sticking to simpler designs like hearts and tulips to mitigate difficulties.Latte Art
  4. Curdling Concerns: Plant milks, especially when added to acidic coffees or lighter roasts, may curdle. To address this issue, many manufacturers incorporate acidity regulators and stabilizers into their products.

Baristas are continually refining their techniques to accommodate plant milks, which are increasingly popular among consumers seeking dairy-free alternatives.

Other Types of Plant-Based Milks

  1. Variety of Options: Alexander has experimented with various plant-based milks, including soy, fava (broad) bean, pea, and potato milks. He notes that macadamia milk posed the greatest challenge among these alternatives
  2. Steaming Recommendations:
    • For soy milk, Alexander suggests incorporating more air during steaming to improve its texture.
    • When working with other plant milks, he advises introducing steam earlier in the process, avoiding temperatures exceeding 55ºC, and swirling the milk during steaming.
  3. Differences Among Brands: Alexander highlights variations in foaming properties among different brands of plant milks. To achieve optimal results, he recommends adjusting steaming techniques or incorporating a small amount of cold milk before pouring.
  4. Adaptability in Barista Skills: While cow’s milk remains the preferred choice for milk-based coffee beverages and , the increasing popularity of plant milks underscores the importance for baristas to master steaming techniques for a diverse range of milks.

Baristas must continually refine their skills to cater to the evolving preferences of customers, which increasingly include dairy-free options.