Title: The Cappuccino Showdown: Almond Milk vs. Milk Milk
Date: 31 March, 2012
Lab Partners: Me, myself and I. Ooh, does my espresso machine count?
Purpose: To determine which milk tastes better as a key ingredient in my beloved cappuccino.
Introduction: According to Wikipedia, A cappuccino (Italian pronunciation: [kapputˈtʃiːno], English pronunciation: /ˌkæpəˈtʃiːnoʊ/, meaning “Capuchin” or literally “small cap”) is an Italian coffeedrink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of theirhabits.
I love to have a cappuccino in the morning before work. It’s great if you’re hungry but not quite ready for breakfast. It’s also a great way to quell my coffee craving early, so as not to be tempted to spend $4 at Starbucks during the day. As I am largely a tea drinker, usually that one morning cappuccino will keep me free from coffee thoughts all day.
Every once in a while I buy almond milk. I feel like I am being super healthy and responsible, and vow to remove milk and dairy products from my diet, even if just for a while. I start using almond milk in my morning muesli. I enjoy it with a smug look. Then the small carton gets finished, or half of it gets thrown out because I don’t finish it time. And months go by…
I think I’m afraid to give up milk and dairy all together because I love milk, cheese, yogourt, cream, etc., and because I bake A LOT. Now I know there are a million dairy alternatives out there, but I am sensing this is more of an emotional issue for me, rather than one of taste. I suppose a lot of our connections to food are emotional, aren’t they?
So here I go, putting these two milks head-to-head. I feel I am well qualified to run this study due to my love of coffee and nerdy attention to the details of milk frothing and also because I am a food science major. But why am I trying to prove myself here? It’s my blog and I’ll test what I want to (oooh, such a bad ass!)
Two cup and saucer sets, espresso machine, two espresso shots (pulled at the same time), almond milk, milk milk, and agave syrup used as a sweetener (this is my go-to coffee sweetener. Its flavour is perfect for coffee and why not cut down on your sugar consumption where you can?).
After warming both cups and setting aside, I started by steaming the almond milk. I pulled the double shot of espresso and prepared the almond milk cappuccino.
After cleaning the milk frothing wand thoroughly, I steamed the milk milk and prepared the second cappuccino.
Many photos were taken, both drinks were sweetened with an equal amount of agave nectar (approximately 1/2 tsp–my usual dose).
Visual and olfactory observations were made. Following this, a taste test was performed.
Even before I taste the samples, there are differences. The almond milk, with a lower fat content, did not leave a thick residue on the espresso machine’s milk frothing wand like the milk milk did. By looking at both samples, there are visual differences as well. Sample 1 appears to have a slightly smoother texture compared to the foamy texture of Sample 2. This is not rocket science, but to give you a better idea of the results, see the photos below:
What do you think?
Have you figured it out yet?
The almond milk has a lovely creamy aftertaste on its own and this creamy nuttiness is a great match for coffee. Milk milk has its own inherent sweetness too. I don’t like my coffee to be overly sweet, but I find myself adding more agave syrup to the almond milk cappuccino to achieve the same results as the milk milk one. Milk milk can’t be beat for its comforting flavour and delicate dulcitude (how’s THAT for an adjective!).
Are you ready for the reveal?
I am a (milk) milk lover. Always have been. Friends jab and strangers pause when I request a tall glass of cold milk with dinner. Does anyone over the age of five drink milk with a meal? This girl does. Proudly. Is there anything that tastes better with spaghetti, or with beans on toast?
It must be said, however, that anything new takes some getting used to. And I assure you, I faced this showdown with an open mind. But it can be difficult to be objective when you are messing with a coveted daily ritual. If I was to remove dairy from my diet, almond milk would be a respectable alternative to milk milk in my morning coffee. Tea, on the other hand, would require something with a less prominent flavour.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I declare milk milk the winner here, but was there any question? I gave almond milk a fair and honest chance, but I’ll probably stick with (milk) milk.
Then again, I could be convinced to do a week- or month-long challenge if you’d be willing to join me. I am a creature of habit but I like to think of myself as open-minded too. What do you say?
UPDATE: The more I sip the almond milk cappuccino, the more I’m coming around. It’s creamy but without the fatty aftertaste. This would be great during the summer months, when I still crave a coffee hit but would like a less heavy feeling. Hmmm, could this staunch (milk) milk lover become a convert?