Does Speciality Coffee Need Speciality Milk?

Now there’s a question…let’s start with the coffee, shall we? And what makes coffee a Speciality Coffee

The term Speciality coffee is used by many, but what does it truly mean? In very simple terms, it means The best of the best

The other, lesser quality option is commercial, or commodity-grade coffee. From which you can often be left with a bad aftertaste and a less than satisfying experience. On the other hand, with speciality coffee, you’re guaranteed quality. The coffee has been lovingly cared for through all stages of the coffee production, which helps make it so special and taste so good!

Speciality coffee is a term for the highest grade of coffee available, relating to the entire supply chain, from farmer to cup, using single-origin coffee.

It also refers to the way the coffee is roasted and how it is extracted.

The widely accepted definition of ‘Speciality coffee’, is a coffee that scores 80 points or higher on the 100-point coffee review scale. Coffee scoring between 90-100 points is graded outstanding, coffee that scores between 85-89.99 is graded Excellent. Coffee scoring between 80-84.99 is graded Very Good. The coffee is given its score by certified coffee tasters known as ‘Q graders’. It is scored firstly on its defects. It can have zero primary defects such as black or sour beans; and less than 5 secondary defects, like insect damage or chipping per 100 beans.

pouring water into a cupping bowl

According to the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) definitions, speciality coffee

“refers to the highest quality green coffee beans roasted to their greatest flavour potential by true craftspeople and then properly brewed to well-established SCAA developed standards.

“Specialty coffee can consistently exist through the dedication of the people who have made it their life’s work to continually make quality their highest priority. This is not the work of only one person in the lifecycle of a coffee bean; speciality can only occur when all of those involved in the coffee value chain work in harmony and maintain a keen focus on standards and excellence from start to finish. This is no easy accomplishment, and yet because of these dedicated professionals, there are numerous speciality coffees available right now, across the globe, and likely right around the corner from you.”

“They are grown in special and ideal climates and are distinctive because of their full cup taste and little to no defects. The unique flavours and tastes are a result of the special characteristics and composition of the soils in which they are produced.”

“Speciality coffee has the opportunity to be sweeter, smoother and more delicate than a lower grade of coffee. Its natural flavours have been preserved through gentle care throughout its growing and roasting process.”

coffee in a cooling bin

Because the quality of the coffee is superior, it does not need to be roasted dark to hide impurities like most commercial coffees. This means that when roasting our beans here at Two Chimps Coffee,  we can keep the natural flavours within the coffee and highlight these in the roasting process, rather than having to hide behind a darker roast style.

Onto the milk…

When drinking speciality coffee at home, we would always recommend giving it a try before adding any milk or sugar and go from there. Giving this a go and learning to drink coffee this way will highlight the different tasting notes each coffee has to offer and be extremely rewarding. Rather than hiding them in milk and sugar before you have even had a chance to try.

However, it’s all down to personal preference, we all taste differently. So, if you think your coffee needs sugar for your personal taste,  then add some. After trying on the coffee on its own, if you would like, add some milk. No one is judging here.

Most coffee sold all over the world is made with milk in the form of Lattes, Macchiatos, Flat Whites, Cortados and Cappuccinos.

latte are heart

If you do like to add milk to your coffee, we believe that whole cow’s milk is the best dairy option to use, especially when it comes to steaming your milk. It’s easier to steam because of its high-fat content and also presents much better when attempting your latest Latte art creations. Latte art is not impossible with semi-skimmed cow’s milk but just takes more practise to get it right. It’s the protein in milk that supports the bubbles, so your milk should foam either way. The fat content also makes a difference by adding flavour and texture to your drink.

Shelf life is also worth a mention when it comes to the differences between Cow’s milk and other kinds of milk available. Cow’s milk has a shorter shelf life than the dairy-free plant-based alternatives and is always better the fresher it is. Even better still, if you have access to higher quality milk from local farms go for it…it’s the future!

Cows milk, however, isn’t for everyone.

More and more people are now moving away from dairy because of dietary restrictions, dairy allergies or cutting down the intake of animal products. Thankfully though there are now many plant-based alternatives. All plant-based milk behaves differently with coffee (especially when used in espresso-based drinks), and all come with their pros and cons, but again it’s all open to the drinker’s preference.

pouring milk into a mug

Here are a select few for you to try out…

Oat Milk

It’s no wonder this is fast becoming the go-to of non-dairy milk. It’s oat flavour, and creamy richness is quite neutral and mild; perfect for espresso-based drinks as it doesn’t mess with the coffee taste too much.


(Other brands are available ?) now have lots of different varieties of Oat Milk for you to try. Including whole, semi, skinny, organic semi…most importantly though they do a ‘Barista Edition’ (with a higher fat content) which makes it possible to steam, and it tastes amazing! This is an excellent option for those of you who have an espresso machine and can steam milk at home. This product is now fast becoming a staple in coffee shops everywhere. All of their products are very low in gluten, are plant-based and sustainable.

Soy Milk

Most coffee shops have been using soy milk in coffee for many years. As with Oat milk, it too is an excellent option for people with nut allergies. Soy milk has a smooth and creamy texture with a relatively neutral taste. It’s great for Latte art and easy to use. It foams very quickly, which doesn’t affect the taste or texture of the milk at all.

Almond Milk

If you like a bit of sweetness, then this is the one for you. (unsweetened options are also available) It’s one of the most popular nut ‘milks’ on the market, the complete opposite to the fairly neutral-tasting options above. Almond milk creates a flavoured drink with a nutty flavour that can sometimes taste bitter; it, on the other hand, can also taste a little like your coffee has been flavoured with syrup. This is also very good for foaming as long as you don’t overheat.

Others to try include; Coconut, Cashew, Hemp, Rice and Pea milk.

Milk texturising using an espresso machine

There is an increasingly wide choice in the non-dairy milk market. Many products are now being created specifically for baristas. With all of this variety, it’s likely you can find milk perfect for your choice of speciality coffee and lifestyle. Give them all a try; you never know, you might just find the perfect milk to compliment your favourite Two Chimps Speciality Coffee.

While we can’t help carry the milk, we can help with the most amazing freshly roasted coffee.

All of our current coffees can be found here


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