Is there a barista's favorite brand or type of milk?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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Postby Ltrain5000 » Apr 29, 2012, 11:55 pm

Is there any type of milk best suited for high quality art-able micro foam? Any specific brands?

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Postby cannonfodder » Apr 30, 2012, 8:46 am

My favorite is whatever is the freshest. Milk can vary dramatically between dairies. The differences can be even more pronounced with a small independent dairy due to variations in the cows diet from day to day. The large ones pull milk in from multiple farms and homogenize it all so there is less variation. Some dairies also put an anti foaming agent in the milk to keep the proteins from frothing while it is processed. That can cause issues with steaming milk. As a general rule, the higher fat content milk is easier to foam, lowfat milk is all protean so it will produce huge quantities of bubbles but most of those are medium to large dish soap bubbles. The lack of fat allows the bubbles to hold their shape and grow. So while low fat milk will produce a larger volume of microfoam, it is more difficult to work with. My rule of thumb is only use what you would normally drink. Since dairies vary by location, you just have to try them all to find what works and tastes best for you.
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Postby yakster » Apr 30, 2012, 12:09 pm

I'm no expert in milk by any means (slightly allergic myself and not that big a fan of milk drinks which is hampering my milk texturing and latte art skills) but I have heard that the Horizon whole organic brand is pretty well thought of and that's what I've been using lately.

Local dairy, use what you would drink sounds like a good suggestion if your a milk drinker.

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Postby Gravedigga » Apr 30, 2012, 1:08 pm

In NYC, many of the coffee shops use Battenkill and it's quite delicious. They sell it at Eataly and definitely worth the money.

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Postby rideold » Apr 30, 2012, 1:22 pm

I use Organic Valley whole milk and I've no complaints about it. I'd agree with getting the freshest you can though.

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Postby Peppersass » Apr 30, 2012, 2:11 pm

yakster wrote:I have heard that the Horizon whole organic brand is pretty well thought of and that's what I've been using lately.

Actually, no. Check out this article.

Horizon is owned by Dean Foods, which has been under fire for not adhering to strict organic processing. Also, they switched labeling on some of their products from "organic" to "natural" (a meaningless term), probably as a result of no longer meeting the stricter requirements, but the label change was subtle and misleading. Our local co-op grocery store dropped all Dean Foods dairy products as a result.

I use milk from local dairies (comes in glass bottles!)

My advice is to use the freshest milk that tastes the best.
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Postby chang00 » Apr 30, 2012, 3:15 pm

From my reading of the letter in the referenced link, the National Organic Program (NOP) was incorrect to interpret 21 CFR 104.20 (Code of Federal Regulations), not in alignment with FDA, and that certain synthetics are allowed in "organic" food. Additionally, 104.20 does not apply to milk, therefore DHA is permitted, in the reference link regarding Horizon milk.

Synthetics allowed, 205.605 (b):

CFP 104.20:

Just some milk for thoughts....

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Postby TomC » Apr 30, 2012, 5:08 pm

Before it gets to that point again, where every milk thread pertaining to latte art gets derailed into a debate and arguement about the constituents of one particular producers product or the reputation of it, how about we talk about how it works for baristas.

For me, I still choose Horizon Organic Whole Milk whenever I get the chance to, it makes extremely sweet rich microfoam that is akin to melted vanilla ice cream, IMO.

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Postby cannonfodder » May 01, 2012, 8:02 am

I just get 2% store brand from my local super market, or what ever is on sale. If I want a higher fat content I will get a small pint of cream and add just a dash to my steaming pitcher.
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Postby bean2friends » May 01, 2012, 9:31 am

I had some left over cream once. Adding it to my milk didn't improve things. I too use what's on sale. I have the best luck with whole milk. I can make hearts but that's about the extent of my latte art skill. I often say I'm no artist so it's no wonder my latte art is limited. I wonder how many others who complain about their micro foam suffer from the same lack of artistic skill. I mean, if my milk is good enough for a heart, shouldn't it do for just about anything? As an aside, at the Coffee Fest in Seattle I sat in for some of the latte art competition and noticed the baristas were using 2% milk - and nothing special at that. It seemed to be just the local grocery 2%.

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