These days, most cafés and coffee shops have abundant menus, brimming over with mouth-watering coffee drinks made using commercial coffee machines. This comes as no surprise.
Over the years, the coffee industry has boomed. Statistics tell us that more than 20 billion pounds in weight of coffee is produced every year across the globe – that equates to around $55 billion! This means that the focus is very much on having the right equipment to deliver customers with the best quality milk-based coffee drinks.
The history of milk coffee
Coffee has come a long way from its origins in 15th century Arabia when it was enjoyed black and strong. Of course, while black coffee has always had its place and Espresso is still a global favourite, we can thank the Capuchin friars in the 1600’s for the name of the drink that’s still so popular today. The Capuchin friars were responsible for “Cappuccino” due to their robes resembling a coffee drink with frothy milk on top.
There are lots of different variations of the story, some people say that one of the monks actually drank a bitter black coffee and added frothy cream on top to change the flavour. At the same time, other countries were also starting to add milk to their coffee but it didn’t have that “frothy” texture created by blending air with milk (which was done by hand).
The milk coffee revolution today
It’s fair to say that over the past forty years, there’s been a revolution in the coffee industry. While at home, people added milk to their coffee and coffee with milk was available in restaurants, the start of “novelty” coffee drinks was in the 1980’s. The Latte, created in the USA, immediately gained a cult following as did the Café au Lait in Europe.
It wasn’t just a case of adding milk to coffee. There was much more to creating fabulous flavour and texture. Much of that was in preparing the frothiness, but commercial milk steamers weren’t available yet, and the work was done by hand with a steam wand. Even nowadays, much milk frothing is done by hand using a steam wand, which takes time.
Frothing milk coffee drinks by hand is labour-intensive
Today, when you Google the top coffee drinks, there’s a common theme. The types that consistently make the top ten include the Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Americano and Flat White, followed by Espresso. In the hospitality industry, to get these drinks perfected quickly, commercial milk frother machines are essential, especially as frothing by hand is labour-intensive.
Demand for commercial milk foamers is soaring
With quite a few statistics available, demand for milk-based coffee drinks is hugely on the rise which means that demand for professional milk foamers is also soaring. In some countries, milk coffee drinks amount to 60% or more of coffee drinks sold. In Australia, almost 70% of all coffees bought by consumers are Lattes, Flat Whites etc.
Coffee drinkers in the UK are more likely to opt for a milk-based coffee drink than an Espresso (source) and according to this, Americans drank over 67 million Lattes during the period 2017/2018 (source). All of these facts mean that hospitality owners are better equipped with commercial milk frothers rather than managing with manual steaming wands. Professional equipment speeds up and delivers orders far quicker than hand-frothing.
10 popular milk coffee drinks
It’s worth mentioning that milk-based drinks are more profitable for coffee shops, hotels and restaurants because they have higher margins, but what are the most popular milk-based coffee drinks?
- Caffe Latte: Espresso coffee drink with steamed milk.
- Caffe Mocha: This drink is made with chocolate, whipped cream, Espresso and steamed milk.
- Café au Lait: The French favourite is made with dark coffee and warm milk.
- Cappuccino: This popular coffee drink is Espresso with a little milky foam on top
- Macchiato: Like a Caffe Latte but smaller and stronger, this is made with Espresso and a dash of milky foam
- Flat White: A double Espresso with a dash of milk
- Frappe: This is iced coffee made with Espresso, milk and ice.
- Iced Latte: Like a latte but made with ice.
- Iced Mocha: Like a Mocha but made with ice.
- Latte Macchiato: This is prepared like a traditional Caffe Latte but with thicker foam on top.
Of course, there are many more, this list is not exhaustive!
Why people love milk-based coffee drinks
So, what’s the story surrounding these milk coffee drinks that makes them so appealing? Well, there are many reasons. Not only do frothy, milky coffees look appealing, there’s something intensely comforting and soothing when it comes to a generous helping of fluffy foam sitting on top. There’s some science attached to that. Milk is a mood enhancer, containing tryptophan, an amino acid which helps to trigger melatonin, so it’s calming. Plus, the calcium content in milk can help to boost spirits.
Then of course, lots of people don’t like the intense, strong and bitter flavour of Espresso. They want something that dilutes the flavour, making it sweeter and smoother. Additionally, drinking double Espressos all day makes you feel very jittery! A milk-based coffee is lighter, more “delicate” in its flavour and delightfully frothy in texture.
The 3 components of milk that transform coffee
Milk has three essential components that add smoothness. Those components are fat, sugar (from lactose) and proteins. Combined, those components enhance the flavour and produce a different type of aroma too. The lactose in milk breaks down into a sweet flavour when it’s heated up and the protein in milk binds together with the fat to give it a silky looking texture.
The art of perfect milk foam
There is an art to perfectly heating milk to get the right flavour and texture in coffee and there are many views on the right temperature for frothy milk. Some believe that 70 Deg C is best, others swearing by 65 Deg C. A quality industrial milk steamer with a “frothing function” should achieve the optimum temperature and add air to milk, heating up molecules (these molecules help to create the foamy appearance when blended with air), making it look thick and fluffy.
Iced coffee drinks with cold milk foam
Then there are cold coffee drinks with frothy cold milk. These modern milky coffee drinks cannot be prepared by hand-frothing (manually with a steam wand). This milk preparation is known as “cold foam” and requires a commercial milk frother. Cold foam is used in iced coffee drinks – such as an Iced Latte, for example (check out the new creation “White Hill” for example).
How to froth milk alternatives
The right equipment is essential for non-milk drinkers who still like a frothy coffee. There are plenty of people who are lactose intolerant or vegan, and there are a number of non-dairy alternatives. While a quality coffee machine is essential, an experienced barista will know how to froth alternative milks to stop them curdling as they may react differently to dairy milk. Alternative milks include nut milks (almond, cashew, coconut), soy milk or oat milk. These types of drinks need high quality professional milk foamers that can cope with different temperatures and textures.
Having the right milk frothing machine for coffee shops is really important, especially during busy periods. There’s simply no need to waste valuable time hand-frothing anymore. Investing in the right milk-frothing equipment guarantees that you deliver milk-based coffee drinks to perfection very quickly. So, get ahead of the crowd, once you’ve captured a customer, you don’t want to risk losing them to another vendor!