Does the coffee for milk drinks really matter?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
crabjoe

#1: Post by crabjoe »

Is it just me or when a milk drink is made, especially iced ones, it seem the coffee actually used doesn't seem to make much of a difference?

I'm guessing that if you and a few made with different coffees one might say this is better than that, but generally, does anyone ever say "Yuck, this Iced Mocha latte sux!"?

If there is a big difference, can someone recommend what type of coffee I should use? Are dark roasts usually better or should I be looking at something else?

Thanks!

shotwell

#2: Post by shotwell »

I think it's common to think that the coffee doesn't matter, but it absolutely needs to complement the flavor of milk to taste good in a milk drink. I made a cappuccino with a really nice washed Ethiopian decaf today, it wound up tasting the way wet cardboard smells. It really sucked.

Lots of coffees work for milk drinks from dark to light. You have to be a little cautious with flavor, but you can quickly guess if something should taste good with milk. You won't always get it right. Today's capp was a miss, but the same coffee makes an excellent cortado! Don't be afraid to experiment; bold flavor combinations can be a lot of fun.

Dark roasts are almost certainly the most commonly used for milk drinks from a global perspective, and typically present a strong contrast of flavor with the sweet milk. It's not my preference, but it works for many people.

Jeff

#3: Post by Jeff »

If you read the comments on Favorite Espressos 2020 and the "backing" thread, you'll see that some of the medium/medium-dark roasts there seemed to have both flavor strength and profiles that made better milk drinks than others.

A good, middle-of-the-road espresso blend should make good, if not great milk drinks. The more you head towards light ("drip") roasts and their floral, fruity flavor tendencies, the more likely you are to find people offended by the taste in milk. Similarly, head off too far in the other direction and they may be wondering if someone used the glass as an ash tray the day before.

At least in my opinion, if you mainly drink shots, pick an espresso you like. It will be "just fine" for an occasional milk drink, until the day you head off into the world of light roasts. Since "only your roaster knows for sure", light ones generally list a lot of light fruit and floral flavors, and nothing close to dark chocolate, bakers' chocolate, or anything remotely smokey.

rpc415
Supporter

#4: Post by rpc415 »

I'm probably in the minority but I really love more exotic espresso shots cut with a small amount of milk to bring out the flavors. I can pull a great juicy shot of super light kenya that shines in a cortado.

I don't typically like darker roasts alone, so don't find them too appealing in milk. I guess everyone is different, and that's great!

lmolter

#5: Post by lmolter »

@crabjoe, I face the same 'dilemma' as to what beans are best for milk drinks (which we only drink, my wife and I). I had a startling discover recently when I ran out of my subscription beans and I bought a bag of, wait for it ... Starbucks Italian Espresso. Dark. Complex aroma and taste. But ... the flavor evaporated only two days after opening the bag. So I guess my magical find was a bust. My subscription roaster has a French Roast, which I've had and it produced a less-than-wonderful burnt, charcoal pull. However, as I was discussing this very topic in the Lever Operated forum, one responder mentioned cutting the amount way down with dark roasts, in our case 10g from 16g, no preinfusion, and a 20-second pull. THat combination worked wonders for the Starbucks and maybe I'll try the French Roast again.

I like to taste the coffee in a milk drink, my medium roast sometimes doesn't cut it. If I push it (lower grind, longer pull), I get bitterness.

Sorry for rambling.

Nunas
Supporter ♡

#6: Post by Nunas »

Does the coffee for milk drinks really matter?
Yes! My main (and only) customer, my wife :wink: , can pick out a change every time I change coffee to a different sort. She drinks mostly lattes and cappuccinos.

ojt

#7: Post by ojt »

Excuse my french but hell yeah. Does the quality of basil matter when making pesto, you might ask. We basically stopped drinking cappuccinos out in bars here in Italy since I've started making them at home. Hard to go back from milk chocolate bar tasting creamy drinks to ashy or bitter overly foamy cups of... whatever.
Osku

Nunas
Supporter ♡

#8: Post by Nunas »

We basically stopped drinking cappuccinos out in bars here in Italy since I've started making them at home.
OMG, us too! We roast our own greens every week or so from a good selection of SO and blend beans. Plus we now blend our own post-roast. And have a decent assortment of coffee makers. When in a restaurant or even a coffee shop, we are usually appalled at the lack of quality. And, don't get me started on the big chains, like *$, who find it necessary to invent confusing names for coffee drinks. When visiting friends, we will take a cup of coffee 'just to be polite'. On more than one occasion, upon returning home, 'she who must be obeyed' has requested that I make her a ____ (fill in the blank with flat white, latte, cappuccino...).

Bluenoser

#9: Post by Bluenoser »

There is a huge difference in the beans.. I drink 75% cappuccinos and like a distinct chocolate Flavour. Really good roasters can create a blend that will really be enhanced with milk. Now the milk steamer (ie: the person) also makes a huge difference.. The milk, not so much.. I find whole, 2% and lactose-free all make great drinks.. The quality of the micro-foam and its temperature can greatly enhance the Flavour and texture of the drink. I have found that medium-dark roasts that look more like medium roasts are my preference. I stay away from the dark, oily roasts; although a few taste surprisingly good in milk..

Bluenoser

#10: Post by Bluenoser »

Nunas wrote:OMG, us too! We roast our own greens every week or so from a good selection of SO and blend beans. Plus we now blend our own post-roast. And have a decent assortment of coffee makers. When in a restaurant or even a coffee shop, we are usually appalled at the lack of quality. And, don't get me started on the big chains, like *$, who find it necessary to invent confusing names for coffee drinks. When visiting friends, we will take a cup of coffee 'just to be polite'. On more than one occasion, upon returning home, 'she who must be obeyed' has requested that I make her a ____ (fill in the blank with flat white, latte, cappuccino...).
I've been a fan of IDC's Daterra Yellow (Canada source), which for me gives a great chocolate note balance in milk.. What greens do you use that might give such a flavor (If you go for such).. am just starting to roast my own, but haven't produced anything drinkable yet.