Coffee with milk, or cafe con leche (if you’re feeling fancy), is a must for many coffee drinkers. Whether you like regular dairy milk or prefer plant-based milk, there are lots of varieties you can add to your coffee to get that delicious creamy taste. So, what milk should you use and what coffees go best with milk? We’ve answered this, and more in our guide to making coffee with milk. We’ll cover:
We admit, it’s a pretty simple question and we’ve got a pretty simple answer for you: of course you can put milk in coffee. Certain types of milk will go better with certain coffee and if you’re making a specific type of coffee then it might require a specific type of milk – like steamed with microfoam. So absolutely go ahead and add milk to your morning coffee if that’s your thing – we’re not going to stop you.
You can add different types of milk to your coffee, depending on the coffee you want to make. Adding milk to coffee can be as simple as a splash of cold milk when your coffee is brewed or steaming milk to create latte art. We’ve got a few simple tips to get your coffee tasting just right.
Adding cold milk to coffee is easy. Once you’ve brewed a cup of black coffee, simply pour in your desired amount of cold milk or milk alternative. This usually works best with an Americano, filter coffee or Aeropress brew.
When steaming milk, you should use the steaming wand on an espresso machine. You can use unhomogenised milk, full fat cow’s milk or the barista version of a dairy alternative and it should be steamed in a metal jug. The amount of foam you create will depend on the type of coffee you’re trying to make as it will alter the taste and texture of the drink.
Rather than using a thermometer when steaming milk, we prefer to go by look and feel. Once the milk has reached the desired texture, simply feel the side of the jug and once it is hot to the touch, you can turn off the steam wand. If you do prefer to use a milk thermometer, aim for around 60-70°C to bring out the natural sweetness in the milk.
Getting the milk right means getting the coffee right. So, if you’re making your favourite coffee shop brew, you need to get the milk just right.
Americano: Simple. Just add a splash of cold milk to your hot coffee, to taste.
Latte: The ever-popular milky coffee. Add around 250ml of steamed milk and steamed milk with a layer of micro-foam on top of one-two shots of espresso.
Flat White: Steam around 120ml of milk or dairy-free milk to create a silky microfoam. Pour this slowly over two shots of espresso.
Cappuccino: Traditionally, a cappuccino uses equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk and steamed milk foam. You’ll need to create more foam than you would for a latte or flat white.
Macchiato: Let the coffee shine through and top your espresso with just a small amount of foamed or steamed milk.
Cortado: A cortado uses equal amounts of espresso with steamed milk on top with a very thin layer of milk foam.
Not a fan of dairy milk? That’s fine, we’ve experimented with milk alternatives so reckon we’ve found the best alternatives. If we’re not using dairy milk, our go-to is always oat milk. It’s smooth and creamy with a touch of sweetness so complements a cup of coffee perfectly. If you can’t get your hands on oat milk or prefer something different then we also like soy or coconut milk as decent alternatives.
But it doesn’t stop there! Not only is the milk alternative important, but the type of milk is too. For example, if you’re steaming milk alternatives for coffee, you should always choose the barista version of that milk. Why? Because it’s made for steaming! Barista milk alternatives have a higher fat content than the regular versions which helps you achieve a creamy texture, just like dairy, when it’s steamed.
So, if you’re looking for a milk alternative to use in your coffee, always choose the barista version.
Before you even think about adding milk to your coffee, you need to get the basics right. Forget instant coffee and start by buying freshly roasted coffee beans to unlock the best flavours in your brew. Once you’ve got the beans nailed down, grind them yourself before making each coffee to fully enjoy the natural taste and beautiful aromas that don’t stick around for long.
If you’re making coffee with milk, you’ve probably already got some coffee recipes in mind. Some coffees demand milk including a latte, cappuccino, flat white, macchiato, and cortado while others leave the option to add milk from a pitcher if you want to, like an Americano or espresso.
If you like adding milk to coffee then using an espresso machine, moka pot or percolator is probably best. On the other hand, you should avoid pour-over methods or Chemex brewers because these are such delicate processes that make the flavour notes in the coffee stand out more than usual. So, if you are a pour-over or Chemex lover, it’s better to indulge in the delicious flavour notes you’ll get from enjoying your coffee black.
We find that coffee beans with chocolatey notes pair best if you enjoy coffee with milk. That’s because the chocolate flavours complement the creamy taste of milk much better so your coffee will taste more cohesive. If you add milk to a fruitier coffee, the flavours won’t work together as well, so you might find that your brew tastes a bit odd.
If you’re looking for a chocolatey coffee from our range, we’d recommend:
Adding milk to coffee will give it a creamy, more neutral taste and cut through the bitterness you may find with some coffee beans. So, why not make things easy for yourself? The Sage Dynamic Duo makes it easy to grind coffee beans, brew espresso and steam milk, all in one compact machine. And with our freshly roasted coffee beans, you’re sure to make the perfect coffee with milk every time.