There’s never been a better time to be a lover of plant-based milk. There are a wealth of options for non-dairy milk whether you’re buying for your home fridge or stocking a café.
And if you’ve been paying attention to the funky coloured milk boxes that fill the refrigerators of your local café, you’ll have noticed a term that’s increasingly popular: ‘barista milk’.
But what exactly does it mean? What’s the story with barista milk vs. normal milk? Let’s find out, with the help of a MILKLAB Master Barista.
The term barista milk isn’t just a label slapped on milk packaging to make it seem fancy — though you may feel pretty bougie when you use it — the term is used to show that the milk is designed for coffee.
Barista milk textures, stretches and retains its silky smooth mouthfeel at high temperatures — it’s specifically formulated not to split or curdle when mixed with espresso coffee, and its flavour profile is made to complement and elevate coffee without dominating its aromatic flavours.
While a milk’s ‘regular’ and ‘barista’ versions usually contain similar main ingredients, the barista version may adjust the ingredient profile to create a more stable, steam-friendly milk which is ideal for consistent pouring and creating latte art.
Sometimes this can involve a higher fat content, which provides a creamier texture and a velvetier microfoam, or regulators which help to maintain a consistent flavour and preserve the original taste of the main ingredient.
Aside from having different ingredients and pouring characteristics, barista milk packaging is also made with the pro barista in mind. That means things like speedy twist off lids (like the ones you’ll find on our cartons), which help to improve speed of service in an environment where every moment counts during a morning rush.
This is also why our range is differentiated with bright, easily identifiable colours, so a busy barista can quickly know which one to grab when they’re powering through orders requiring a variety of different milks.
Barista milk tastes similar, but not exactly the same. Barista milk often has a creamier taste, which can be due to a different mix of ingredients, such as having a higher fat content. Barista milk may also have a milder taste compared to a non-barista milk, as barista milk is specifically designed for pairing with coffee — if the flavour of the milk is too strong, it could overpower the coffee.
Hany is a Master Barista with a wealth of knowledge in all things coffee — his latte art is the stuff of legend. Check out what he had to say about barista milk and what makes the MILKLAB range unique.
Hany explains that one of the biggest benefits of a barista milk is the performance, "Barista milk offers a multitude of advantages encompassing practicality, taste, and perception. Functionally, barista-made milks are meticulously crafted to achieve a texture and pour that enables baristas to achieve consistent results with ease.”
On the other hand, non-barista milks, Hany says, “[often] fail to texture adequately, and tend to curdle when mixed with coffee.”
But there’s more to it than just texture, he continues, “From a gustatory standpoint, barista-made milks are formulated to harmoniously complement coffee, rather than overpower it. MILKLAB, in particular, has proactively collaborated with coffee professionals to achieve a seamless pairing with a diverse range of coffees.”
Hany discusses his favourite dairy alternative, oat milk. "... I have come to rely on Oat milk as my top choice among alternative milks. Its texture and pour resemble that of fresh dairy, enabling me to execute complex latte art designs while instilling confidence in beverage presentation.”
Hany describes the taste of oat milk as “particularly appealing, as it harmonises exceptionally well with coffee, imparting a creamy texture without overshadowing the coffee's natural character."
Hany explains, “... the MILKLAB range has demonstrated a clear distinction from other alternative brands on several fronts. Primarily, their packaging, branding, and presence have been notably identifiable among both consumers and baristas.”
He adds, “... MILKLAB has demonstrated a strong commitment to the specialty coffee community by providing opportunities for local baristas to establish themselves through travel and competitions.”
Hany breaks down the MILKLAB difference for us. “From a sensory perspective, MILKLAB offers a distinct flavour profile that seamlessly complements the majority of coffees, yet also possesses its own unique flavour profile that can be easily distinguished in blind tasting.”
“This sensory distinctiveness offers significant value to the product and distinguishes MILKLAB from its competitors.”
Why is milk quality important? MILKLAB explores this question and uncovers why the quality of your milk is so critical to making good coffee.