People all over the world are doing it – but why is milk added to coffee?
Milk makes up the basis of most coffees, for instance, a latte wouldn’t be a latte without milk! Sometimes, however, milk is added to coffee to mask a lower quality of coffee; it may be needed to help improve the flavours. Let’s look at why milk may be required to mask a coffee, and try to answer ‘why is milk added to coffee?‘
Commodity Grade Coffee – why is milk added?
Commodity grade coffee is often what you find in the supermarket.
This grade of coffee could contain Robusta as well as lower grade Arabica. Compared to the Arabica plant, Robusta is a much harsher tasting coffee, with tasting notes like burnt rubber often coming into mind. Often, Robusta is not cared for in the same was as Arabica too. Lower graded Arabica coffee doesn’t taste too fab either.
Sure, commodity coffee keeps the costs low, but it doesn’t taste anything like Speciality coffee; like the coffee we roast here at Two Chimps.
If a farm is trying to keep costs down, they will use strip picking methods during harvesting. This, as it says in the name, completely strips a tree of all its fruit. This means that unripe or damaged fruit will be mixed with the ripe fruit. This results in the overall quality of the coffee being lower still.
Roasting Commodity Coffee
Roasters of commodity coffee will try and mask the unpleasant flavours by roasting it darker. This, in turn, will produce very bitter and burnt flavours in the cup. As a coffee drinker, it makes sense to mask this harshness with milk and/or sugar. But, there must be another way too right?
Indeed there is. Speciality coffee is a much higher grade of coffee. Speciality coffee makes up the top 30% of coffee grown by the Arabica plant. The farmers who grow speciality coffee work incredibly hard to ensure their product is the best they can make it.
When harvesting, the coffee cherries are hand-picked rather than strip picked. Doing this means only the ripest fruit is picked. Under ripe fruit is left to ripen for longer until the next pass, whilst overripe fruit will be picked and separated into a cheaper lot.
Once picked, the coffee is processed to remove the fruity layer of the coffee cherry before it is scored for quality and distributed throughout the globe. Speciality coffee must score at least 80 points to gain its title of speciality coffee. No title means that the coffee wasn’t deemed good enough and falls into the commodity-grade band instead.
Roasting Speciality Coffee
When we roast coffee, we do so by hand and in small batches. We treat the roasting process as an opportunity to show off the beauty of each coffee. Rather than roasting to try and hide any flavours, we roast to bring them out! This often results in lighter roasts than commodity coffee which are always naturally sweeter and bursting with flavour and character.
Lighter roasts produce fruitier and floral flavours, whereas slightly darker roasts produce more chocolatey and caramel flavours. We never roast so dark that our coffees become burnt or bitter.
So, because the flavours in our coffees are already amazing, you are not forced to add milk to hide anything. Don’t worry, you can still drink speciality coffee with milk, but because the coffee is a better quality to start with, maybe you could try it without? Whatever suits best.
Have you been drinking commodity-grade coffee? Ready to make the switch? We are sure you will never look back!