How Plant-Based Milk Behave Differently To Dairy

How milk reacts to heat and foaming depends on its proteins. Vegan milks obviously contain different proteins than the lactose and whey proteins in cow milk, so they behave differently under stress.


Temperature changes, the acidity of coffee, and the impact of frothing cause plant milk to curdle more easily. Some baristas advise steaming dairy-free milk to a slightly lower temperature than cow’s milk to prevent this happening.  Plant-based drinks don’t need to be heated quite as highly as typical dairy milk. With Alpro Professional range of PBA(S), the recommended the optimal temperature for Almond ‘For Professionals’ is 60°C. For Soya, Oat Organic and Coconut ‘For Professionals’ 65°C is the recommended temperature.


With any non-dairy milk, pay attention to the ingredients list. There are many products made specifically for baristas that are designed to handle the strains of coffee preparation, they are specifically developed to allow for the creation of high-quality microfoam and latte art. For example, the Alpro ‘For Professionals’ range is quite easy to work with, through stable stretching, a glossy texture can easily be achieved.

Stabilizers are often added to allow the milk to better handle heat and foaming, so products containing these are good choices to create a cappuccino. But if you’re looking for a “clean” alternative to dairy, you may get a watery milk drink.

Also, take a look at the amount and type of sweeteners and fats that are included and consider whether they are complementary to the coffee beans you’re using. Too much fat or sugar can mask coffee flavours and be unpleasant to drink.

Tips for Baristas

  • Keep the product chilled to achieve the best results
  • Shake the milk carton in order to mix the sediments before pouring into the frothing jug
  • Froth it as gently as possible, minimising the amount of air that is mixed in
  • Avoid overheating the milk
  • Pour the milk quickly and evenly into the coffee

Dial in with plant-based milk

If you are serious about your coffee offering with plant-based milk, then it is strongly recommended to dial in a flat white or cappuccino with plant-based milk. This will be greatly beneficial for the baristas, to understand how different origins benefit different alternative milk and what works best. This way you can recommend your customers coffee that is at their peak with your alternative milk of choice.

There is an increasingly large choice in the non-dairy milk market and many products are created for baristas. With this variety, it is likely you can find plant milk that works with your choice of speciality coffee and lifestyle.

As for the customer, it is always a good idea to ask your barista for their suggestion and try a few different kinds of PBA with different beans. You might be surprised which plant milk complement the flavour notes in your coffee.

Read Part 1 of our PBA for Coffee Blog – The Rise and Rise of the Plant-Based Milk

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June | 2019