As a dairy-free person (lactose intolerance is a cruel curse) one of the most frustrating parts of regular life is the tendency for plant-based milk varieties to curdle in your coffee. It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s certainly messed up my caffeine hit more times than I’d like.
To be completely honest, this has never been something I’ve questioned. I just assumed that curdled milk was a sad feature of my dairy-free life that I couldn’t really avoid. So, when the team at Nespresso explained to me that it was completely preventable, my jaw almost hit the floor.
Why does plant-based milk curdle in coffee?
It’s all to do with acidity.
Mitch, Nespresso Australia’s coffee ambassador, explained to me during a chat on this space that the intensity of the roast of your coffee is the thing that will make all the difference here.
“You always need to reach for something that’s more strongly roasted,” he explained.
From here, Mitch continued on to share that coffee is quite acidic naturally and that the act of roasting it removes some of that acidity.
“…If you use something that’s quite lightly roasted with a plant-based milk, the milk and the coffee split, and the milk curdles.”
Mitch shared that this can happen anywhere from your local coffee shop to your kitchen at home. He explained that it’s often seen in cafes because the rule does not apply to Nespresso pods alone, it’s consistent across all kinds of coffee.
So, whenever you’re working with plant-based milk, “you always want that strongly roasted” brew.
How roasted is strongly roasted enough?
If you’re working with Nespresso pods, Mitch shared he has a pretty clear rule regarding which options to choose. If you want to avoid curdling in your plant-based milk, he recommended reaching for an intensity nine coffee or higher.
Options like the Altisso, Diavolitto and Intenso pods should play with plant-based milk nicely if you’re after some guidance.
If you’re not a Nespresso owner, you still want to be looking for darker or stronger roasted beans in any brand of coffee you work with. And if all else fails, reach out to the coffee producer and ask them for any tips.
After all, it’s 2021. Dairy-free folks should not have to accept curdled milk in their coffee still.