Why is milk added to coffee?

Have you recently visited a coffee shop and noticed that virtually every coffee drink has milk or cream added to it? From the ever-popular Café Latte and Cappuccino through to the indulgent Mocha and Macchiato, dairy products always seem to be in close partnership with coffee.

But why is it so? In this post, I’ll be delving into the world of dairy, to explain why so many coffee drinks use milk.

What Are The Key Components Of Milk?

To understand why milk is often used as a coffee additive, it helps to know what its main ingredients are.

Milk is an “emulsified colloid of liquid butterfat globules, dispersed within a water-based solution.” Or to put in easier-to-understand terms, it is a combination of insoluble proteins, fat, and water. Milk also contains a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Milk has several types of protein, including whey and casein. They are the magic ingredients that help the milk to turn into butter, yoghurt, and cheese. Whey and casein also make it possible for milk to stretch and turn into foam when heated — which is critical when making a cappuccino or café latte.

Fat makes up about 4 to 5% of milk content. It is what gives the milk a delicious creamy taste which enhances the palatability of coffee drinks. Milk also contains a lot of sugar in the form of lactose (a combination of galactose and glucose).

Why Do People Add Milk To Coffee?

#1 – Improved Flavour

Heated milk adds a lot of sweetness to coffee, which makes drinking it more enjoyable. It can mask some unpleasant flavours and reduce its astringency. Coffee drinks with milk also taste creamier thanks to all of the fat particles milk contains.

#2 – Improved nutritional content 

Coffee is a healthy drink due to polyphenols (antioxidants), caffeine, Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), magnesium, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, and manganese it contains. However, it doesn’t contain any protein, calcium or vitamin D.

Adding milk adds those missing nutrients to your coffee drink. It also increases the amount of energy in your coffee, which will sustain you during a busy day. 

#3 – Milk Can Create Foam

There are few things in this world more enjoyable than licking some delicious coffee flavoured foam off the top of a Café Latte or Mocha. The fat and proteins in milk are capable of creating a stable foam structure that looks fantastic and tastes great.

#4 – To Reduce The Acidity Of Coffee

Some coffee beans can produce an acidic brew. If you prefer a less acidic coffee or sometimes experience heartburn from coffee, you can add a splash of milk to your coffee to make it more alkaline.

#5 – It Helps Prevent Coffee From Staining Your Teeth

One of the downsides of drinking a lot of coffee is that it contains tannins that can stain your teeth. If you add milk to your coffee, the proteins it contains will bind with the tannins and stop them from causing damage. This allows you to increase your coffee intake without risking your gorgeous smile.  

#6 – Cooler Coffee

Adding milk to a cup of black coffee immediately drops its temperature by several degrees. Having a slightly cooler coffee can improve the flavours in your coffee and make it easier to drink.

So, Should You Add Milk To Your Coffee?

The answer to this question will depend on several factors including your flavour preferences and the quality of the coffee you are drinking.

Some coffee beans will taste better when milk is added. The fats in milk will enhance enjoyable flavours in the brew while suppressing less desirable ones. Other coffee beans taste better as an espresso (straight shot) or Caffè Americano (coffee and hot water).

The next time a delivery from your coffee subscription arrives, spend some time experimenting with your beans. Try your coffee with steamed milk, without milk, with a drop of cold milk, and everything in between. You may stumble upon an exciting new way to prepare your favourite coffee bean.

Shopping Basket