Rise of the Home Barista

Explore the rise of the home barista and the increasing preference for plant-based milk. Includes Golden Brown’s tips for café-quality coffee at home.
Rise of the Home Barista
July 25, 2024
At Home

Specialty Coffee Comes Home: Rise of the Home Barista

While Australians have long loved specialty coffee and our amazing café culture, we’ve recently seen the barista art form making its way into home kitchens.

With better choices for coffee beans and equipment and more options than ever for plant based milks, the humble homemade coffee is being elevated to something beautiful to be enjoyed every day.

Read on as we dive into the rise of the home barista and discover Golden Brown’s exclusive tips and tricks for nailing that perfect cup, like a boss.

MILKLAB Macadamia, Almond and Oat sitting on a kitchen counter in front of an at-home coffee machine.

Café-quality beans and plant-based milk: the recipe for beautiful coffee at home

With up to 65% of Australian households now sporting a coffee machine, it’s no surprise that people are looking for ways to replicate the café experience in the comfort of their own home.

While many coffee drinkers still look forward to their morning cup from their favourite local café, they’re increasingly likely to grab a bag of fresh locally roasted beans for those lazy Sunday mornings or work from home days when they collect their oat latte.

As people spent their days at home during the pandemic, home coffee consumption increased by 37% — and at the same time, there was an increase in the number of people enjoying plant-based milk. And the trend towards plant-based milks is showing no sign of slowing down.

In fact, a recent MILKLAB study show one in every three coffee drinkers now choose plant milk!

So, if you’re on the fence about trying plant milk, it’s time to give it a try! You’ll soon see why some cafés now use non-dairy milks as their house milk, and your taste buds will thank you too!

Coffee machines: Pods or espresso?

While the convenience and affordability offered by pod machines have made them a popular choice for many coffee drinkers, it’s never been a better time to start your journey in the world of homemade espresso.

That’s because you can now get quality home espresso machines to suit any budget. Modern entry level machines have manual steaming and easy functionality and will quickly produce a tasty coffee.

If you’re serious about your espresso, you can opt for a more premium machine with features like in-built grinders and better temperature controls. You can even go all the way up to luxe masterpieces from La Marzocco and other artisanal brands that offer fine control over every aspect of the brewing process and exquisite craftsmanship. These machines are as beautiful to look at as they are to use.

Of course, most people enjoy their coffee with milk. And the great news is that your options for milk are simply the best they’ve ever been!

As you’ll find in the MILKLAB range, the variety of plant-based milk now extends way beyond than the classic soy and almond. Coffee drinkers making the switch from dairy milk are also choosing oat milk as their go-to, plus the creaminess of MILKLAB Macadamia has to be tasted to be believed!

As well as being a fun daily ritual and something you can turn into a hobby, making your own espresso also delivers a superior coffee. There’s just no comparison between a coffee pod and the taste of freshly ground and extracted coffee with creamy steamed milk.

A barista steaming MILKLAB Oat in a MILKLAB branded jug on a at-home coffee machine.

Elevate your home barista game with Golden Brown’s pro tips

We brought in some expertise from our friend and all-round legend, Rohan of Golden Brown Coffee, who has kindly provided us with a cheat sheet for home barista excellence. Take notes:

Master the art of tamping

Tamping the coffee evenly and with the right amount of pressure is vital for a uniform extraction. An uneven tamp can lead to channelling — where water finds the path of least resistance, over-extracting some coffee grounds while under-extracting others. Aim for a level, firm tamp and push until you feel the grounds stop compressing.

Dial in your espresso machine

Each espresso machine is different, and it's essential to get to know yours. Spend time dialling in your machine — adjusting the grind size and dose (amount of coffee) — to find the perfect extraction. For most home machines around 18 grams of coffee is good for a double shot — check your espresso machine manual for a recommended dose. The goal is to achieve a balanced shot, which typically takes about 25 to 30 seconds to pull.

Milk temperature matters

The temperature of milk when steaming for espresso is crucial for several reasons. It affects the texture, flavour and quality of the milk foam, which is essential for making a great cappuccino, latte or flat white. The ideal temperature range for steaming milk is between 55°C and 70°C (140°F to 158°F). Within this range, you’ll create a smooth, velvety foam without being scalded or developing a burnt taste. For more info head to our Barista Basics tutorials for a guide on how to steam each type of plant milk.

Use ‘barista’ alternative milk

Using a barista-style alternative milk that’s specifically designed for espresso provides an important advantage: barista alternative milks are formulated to texture and steam similarly to cow's milk, which is key to creating the right creamy texture in coffees with high milk content such as a latte or cappuccino. Traditional non-dairy milks typically do not foam as readily and will result in a less satisfying mouthfeel and presentation.

Give the milk a good swirl

After you’ve finished steaming your milk it’s crucial to continue spinning the milk in the jug before pouring to ensure the milk stays smooth and homogeneous. This maintains the milk’s velvety texture and leads to a better mouthfeel.

A barista pouring MILKLAB Macadamia from a jug into their coffee cup.

Your step-by-step guide to steaming milk like a boss

First things first, it’s important to know that steaming alternative milks for espresso can be a bit different from steaming cow's milk. This is mainly due to the differences in protein and fat content. Here are Golden Brown’s tips for achieving the best results with alternative milks:

1.   Start with cold milk

Begin with the milk as cold as possible. Alternative milks tend to react better to steaming when they're cold and this should help you achieve better foam.

2.   Use the right amount of milk

Fill the steaming jug to just below the base of the spout. Using too much or too little milk makes it difficult to control the frothing process.

3.   Purge the steam wand

Always purge the steam wand before and after steaming. This ensures there's no residual milk left inside, keeps the wand clean and ensures steam delivery is at full power.

4.   Position the wand correctly

For alternative milks, position the steam wand slightly off-centre in the milk. This helps create a whirlpool effect, introducing air and is key to creating the all-important microfoam. The tip of the wand should be just below the surface of the milk at the beginning to introduce air, then submerged to evenly heat the milk.

5.   Steam to the right temperature

Alternative milks often have a lower burn point than cow's milk. If you’re using a thermometer, aim for a temperature between 55°C and 70°C (130°F to 150°F). And if going by feel, be careful — if the exterior of the milk jug is too hot to touch for even a moment, the milk is way too hot. Overheating leads to burnt tasting milk with poor texture.

6.   Listen!

The sound of steaming is a great indicator in the process. You should hear a consistent hissing sound, not a roar. If the sound is either too aggressive or too quiet, adjust the depth or position of the wand in the milk to get that smooth hiss going that indicates you're aerating properly.

Want more nuggets of gold from Golden Brown? Discover everything you need to know to make incredible coffee at home with our Barista Basics guides. Enjoy!

Available now: MILKLAB Home Barista 1L edition

Attention all home baristas: your plant milk dreams have been answered.

We’re thrilled to announce the arrival of MILKLAB Home Barista Edition!

That’s right, our fan favourites MILKLAB Almond, Oat and Macadamia are now available at Coles and Woolworths. You can expect the same delicious taste and texture you know and love, in a 1-litre format specifically designed to fit neatly in your fridge door. There’s also a twist-top lid for quick, easy no-mess pouring.

You can also grab MILKLAB Almond and a ‘Minis’ from Coles - a compact 250ml pack which is perfect for small households who can’t get through a full 1 litre bottle in a week and reduce food wastage.

Run, tell a friend: MILKLAB’s coming home! Get the best plant milk in your coffee with the new MILKLAB Home Barista Edition!

Explore more News

Why is Milk Quality Important for making great coffee?

Why is milk quality important? MILKLAB explores this question and uncovers why the quality of your milk is so critical to making good coffee.

Pairing Plant-Based Milk With Coffee

With many diverse flavours, there’s a lot to know about pairing coffee and plant-based milk. MILKLAB sat down with White Horse Coffee to learn more.