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Modern Milks and Coffee Drinks - What You Should Know

There once was a time when milk flowed from dairy farms and filled the land with sweet simplicity and strong, healthy bones. The only milk-related question on people’s minds was whether chocolate milk came from brown cows.

Now, the milk scene has shifted. You can still get your standard milk varieties like whole and skim, but you can also sample various non-dairy selections. It’s a fascinating time to be alive, and your local coffee shop is one of the best places to experience the mind-boggling number of milk types that are now available.

Four glasses sit on a white table with wood peaking through the paint. Each glass is filled with a non-dairy milk, and the source of the milk is on the table in front of the corresponding glass.

If you’re willing to expand your milk horizons, you’ve come to the right place. With a smattering of modern milks to choose from and pair with your favorite coffee drinks, there are some essential things you should know!

Different Milk Types at Coffee Shops

Let’s get one thing straight–there are far too many milk types to dive into all of them fully. Instead, we’re going to highlight the most common and popular varieties that you might find at your local coffeehouse. If you want to learn more about what we’ll half-jokingly dub “millennial milk,” you’ve come to the right place.

Why Milk Choice Matters for Coffee

Pairing milk with coffee sounds like a simple job. You simply pour a cup of coffee, pick up a carton of your preferred milk, and pour it into the awaiting mug. While this is certainly one approach to the dilemma of myriad milks, it is not the ideal option or the route we take at Chelsea.

We pride ourselves on our coffee expertise, and our baristas are the finest you’ll find in any local Ocala coffee shop. They are specialists with a thorough understanding of the factors that can affect a coffee drink. Because we intend to deliver you, our beloved customers, the penultimate coffee beverage, we don’t take milk pairings lightly.

The fat content of the milk being used is the first serious consideration. The lower the fat content, the sweeter a drink will taste. The higher the fat content, the creamier the final product. When making something like a latte, widely considered a staple in coffee shops, a higher fat content is almost always preferred. Keep in mind that plant-based milks tend to foam differently than dairy, as well. For coffees like lattes, this can influence the outcome substantially.

Two glasses filled with iced coffee rest on a dish on a table covered with coffee beans while a Chelsea Coffee barista pours milk into them from above.

Different milks also carry distinctive flavor profiles which will impact the taste of any beverage they’re added to. While most coffee drinkers are familiar with the milk, slightly sweet profile of cow’s milk, they may be unfamiliar with the nutty, sometimes overpowering flavor of non-dairy milks. Deciding which milk to use and in what quantity is essential if you are trying to achieve a specific flavor profile.

The last consideration–and arguably the most important to many people–is the cost of different milks. Typically, good old cow’s milk is the cheapest option. Plant-based alternatives vary in price, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with their pricing, account for the discrepancies on the menu, and choose your inventory wisely. Modern coffee shop visitors crave a wide selection, but it can be difficult (and expensive) to keep all alternative milks stocked at all times.

Get to Know Your Dairy Milks

If you’re a coffee fanatic (or have ever set foot in a grocery store), you are likely familiar with the primary types of dairy milks that are readily available at your local coffee shop. The question is, in what coffee scenarios are they best used?

  • Whole milk is the fattiest standard milk option, offering a creaminess that other milks can’t match. It is perfect for use in espresso drinks that need the velvety texture associated with a higher fat content.

  • Low-fat milk has less fat than whole milk and strikes a nice balance between reduced fat content and creaminess. It can still provide a nice texture to espresso-based beverages.

Several glas

  • Skim milk retains noticeable flavor but is a compromise in terms of fat content. It may not produce the classic texture associated with lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso drinks.

  • Organic milk boasts a richer taste than most off-the-shelf milks, making it a desirable option for the eco- and health-conscious who also love bold, smooth flavors.

Dairy Alternatives at Your Ocala Coffee Shop

For those who want to venture away from traditional milks, there are more options than ever. Whether you make this change due to personal beliefs or health concerns, non-dairy alternatives have never been more popular or readily available. Instead of struggling to find a local coffeehouse that accommodates your preferences, the challenge now is determining which alternative milk to choose.

  • Soy milk is probably the most well-known milk alternative because it gained traction early and grew quickly in popularity. Because it contains no animal products, it is a favorite among vegetarians and vegans. In terms of how it performs as a coffee additive, soy milk excels when steamed, creating a frothy, creamy texture. It also delivers a touch of sweetness, which many coffee lovers enjoy.

  • Oak milk is a trendy pick these days, and it’s clear why. It is naturally creamy and sweet, foams well, has a low fat content, and imbues coffee with a unique nutty flavor that many people love. Its combination of smooth texture, low fat, natural sweetness, and complementary flavor profile make oat milk the complete package and one of the most popular dairy alternatives.

A jar of oatmilk rests on a rustic wooden cutting board surrounded by oats and wooden utensils.

  • Almond milk, like oat milk, boasts a lovely texture, subtle sweetness, and apparent nuttiness. Unlike oat milk, almond milk is fattier, which lends itself well to espresso drinks (though it is sensitive to overheating). 

  • Coconut milk is sweet and creamy. However, it is subject to separation and poor texture if improperly heated, making it a touch more finicky and difficult to work with than other non-dairy milks. It is also important to choose natural coconut milk, as many products marketed as coconut milk contain additives like flavors and sweeteners.

  • Rice milk steams well, giving it an advantage over some other non-dairy milks. Like oat milk, the texture of rice milk is thin, and it has a mildly sweet taste. The downside of rice milk? It tends to lack the creaminess that many coffee drinkers prefer.

Chelsea Coffee - The Top Coffee in Ocala

With over a decade of experience brewing up perfection in Marion County, Chelsea Coffee is the go-to local coffee spot in the area. Whether you’re trying to cut dairy from your diet or simply want to try something new, our shop carries a variety of milks and milk alternatives. From brewed coffee to espresso creations, you can opt for whatever milk floats your flavor boat.

Feel free to stop by our Ocala, FL, coffee shop location for a delicious drink or a bite to eat. You can also peruse our website, where you can find our menu, buy coffee online, and grow your coffee knowledge by reading our blog. We update it regularly, so check back often for more coffee news, insights, tips, and tricks!

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