Let’s get one thing straight: I love steamed milk. Forever, I have relished the fact that something simple as milk can be transformed into a lush and creamy foam. Before I got into coffee, I just spooned out the foam of a cappuccino and treated the foamed milk with a bit of cocoa as my special type of treat. This love must have been obvious as I recall the landlady during a stay in Tuscany putting an extra cup in front of me, filled solely with foam. That is how I learned the Italian word schiuma – foam. While I have now come to appreciate coffee in itself, steamed milk still remains a mystery to me. While the process to foamy perfection seems somewhat simple – use cold milk, submerge the wand, listen for certain sounds, look for a so called vortex – the truth is that steaming milk cannot be learned from a textbook. It requires practice, a good-ish machine and the right kind of milk.
It should be no surprise that steamed milk does indeed require you to think about what kind of milk to use. In a 2014 interview with SQIRL‘s head barista Colleen King, Rico Gagliano got her perspective on what type of milk is best for coffee. If you have read my previous post on SQIRL you will know that I absolutely love the combination of their black drip coffee and the toast. But if you must have milk, Colleen recommends using full fat milk – bad news for the low-fat crowd. According to her, the fattiness of the milk complements the bitterness of the coffee, a statement that I would definitely support. I mean creamier the milk equals creamier foam. Sound pretty logical, right? Rico and her are even musing about the future of milk, in which different types of milk will complement different beans and roasts of coffee. Ironically, most coffee purists, including Colleen, will tell you that putting milk in your coffee is pretty much an adulteration of taste. This explains the glance of appreciation my bf gets when he orders black coffee. I assume this somewhat new interest is strongly connected to the birth of “Barista Milk.” Apparently it is not more than a lightly homogenized milk, which might allow for a higher creaminess. Depending on who you speak to that might be absolute BS or the natural evolution of milk used in coffee shops. In any case, it is great marketing, and since it is organic you cannot go wrong. I am certainly excited about what these crazy coffee people come up with next.
Any comments? How do you drink your coffee?