What almond milk do baristas use?

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There is no denying that alternative milk has become increasingly popular over the past few years, with new options seeming to hit the market every few months.

However, there is one milk alternative that remains a favourite: almond milk.

Almond milk’s popularity can be attributed to its nutty flavour and pleasant texture. It also comes in an array of flavours.

If you’re looking to recreate a cafe-style almond latte at home, you may be wondering which brand is favoured by baristas to get that perfect velvety texture.

Below, we discuss the most common types of almond milk used by baristas, show you how to steam it for your daily coffee, and offer some other alternatives that we think are worth experimenting with.

What almond milk do baristas use?

Baristas in Australia use a range of almond milk brands for brewing non-dairy alternatives to our favourite coffees.

Popular varieties include:

  • Milk Lab Almond Milk 
  • Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • Australia’s Own Barista Almond Milk
  • Vitasoy Almond Milk

Should you use sweetened or unsweetened almond milk for coffee?

Sweetened is best for coffee. The unsweetened version tastes bitter (especially when heated) and doesn’t go well with coffee drinks as the natural nutty flavour from the almonds can leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

For this reason, almost all coffee shops and cafes will use the sweetened version.

What are the ingredients in almond milk?

Almond milk ingredients include almonds, filtered water, cane sugar, salt, and mineral blends such as ascorbic acid and calcium carbonate.

Ingredients like locust bean gum or gellan gum can be used as a thickener agent.

If the milk is flavoured, it may contain extra ingredients such as vanilla or chocolate.

How to steam almond milk for coffee

Steaming almond milk is different from steaming regular milk as it tends to overheat and separate rather quickly.

For this reason, you need to make sure that the air that you are pushing in while steaming really blends into your milk. This is where the process differs from steaming regular milk.

Start with cold almond milk and insert the milk pitcher just below the steaming wand, aiming to get as much air as possible.

Almond milk has more water than cow’s milk, meaning that you will need to steam for a longer time, making sure to create a vortex so that the molecules stick together for as long as possible.

Keep an eye out for temperature as almond milk tends to heat rather quickly.

Try to introduce as much air as possible while ensuring the milk continues to swirl around the milk jug. Remove the steam wand when it reaches about 65°C.

With normal milk, achieving a glossy and smooth finish is the goal. With almond milk, we want to get it to be as thick as possible so that it can blend with the espresso.

How to create latte art with almond milk

When making latte art with whole milk, you are looking for a smooth and glossy texture.

Plant-based milks are different.

Creating latte art with almond milk will be trickier as the foam will begin to separate. We suggest buying baristas almond milk which will contain a higher protein content.

Steam your milk as outlined above, making sure to incorporate for a slightly longer time than you would normally.

Tap your pitcher against a hard surface and swirl it gently.

Angle the jug at 65 degrees and start pouring. Take into account that the final result will be more watery, meaning that some designs will be harder than others.

Other milk alternatives for coffee

Soy milk

Soy is a popular alternative because it has similar protein levels as dairy which makes it easy to replicate when steaming and creating latte art.

The soy flavour is not super strong and it is one of the creamiest alternatives. One thing to take into account is that if the coffee you are using is high in acidity, the milk will curdle.

A brand that is often used by baristas is Earth’s Own.

Oat milk

Oat milk has become a favourite amongst many consumers and those in the coffee industry. One brand that has gained a lot of popularity is Oatly with its Oat Milk Barista blend.

Oat milk has a naturally creamy consistency that works well for steaming and it also has a pleasant taste. It does not have a strong wheaty flavour so the coffee taste will remain similar to cow’s milk. This milk also works well for latte art.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk delivers a very creamy mouthfeel and it is high in healthy fats. Having a higher fat content means that it will be easier to steam and work into the coffee.

One downside is that it has a very rich aftertaste, so it will definitely deliver a coconut flavour to your drink. A brand that is often used by baristas is the Pacific Barista Series.

Cashew Milk

Cashew is another plant-based milk that shares a lot of similarities with cow milk. The nutty flavour is not as prominent as other nut-based milks and it offers a naturally sweet taste.

One disadvantage is that the price is on the higher end in comparison to the other options.

FAQ

What are the cons of almond milk?

Some brands of almond milk add carrageenan, an additive used to thicken and preserve foods and drinks. This additive can cause bloating or irritable bowel symptoms. Another con of almond milk is that it is not particularly environmentally friendly as a lot of water is used to cultivate almonds. Finally, almond milk is not a good source of protein when compared to other alternative milks.

Does Vitasoy almond milk froth?

Yes, Vitasoy almond milk can froth. However, as almond milk is mainly almonds and water, there will be very little foamy texture to it and it will be harder to froth due to its watery consistency. This milk also tends to separate very easily and won’t be as creamy as cow’s milk.

Is Milklab almond milk high in sugar?

Milklab almond milk has a higher sugar content than other brands such as Vitasoy. A cup of 250ml of Milklab’s almond milk contains 4.3 grams of sugar, 1 more gram than its competitors. On the other hand, it has less sugar and fat than regular dairy milk.