October 28, 2020

Golden Bean tips and tricks in designing a coffee for plant milk.

By CCDigital – October 27, 2020 

We have a new category for this year’s Golden Bean roasters competition – Plant Milk!

The challenge for the coffee roaster is to design their roasted coffee to make the plant milk shine in a milk based coffee.

We have asked past Golden Bean champions to practice in their businesses designing a coffee to pair with our sponsored milk, Alternative Dairy Company Oat.

ADC spent two years developing this amazing plant milk with the help of all facets of the Australian coffee and café industry.

ADC Oat is very creamy and has no strong flavour challenges for coffee to fight against. It performs very close to dairy and will hold well when combined with the espresso shot without bubbling and splitting.

Latte art

Please see their findings below.

Coffee characteristics all have acidity in the chemistry and will be enhanced in the brewing of espresso.

The acidity will split all milk, dairy and plant. These acids are seen as benefits and naturally occur in coffee during the roasting process.

They give coffee the desired brightness and enhance the flavour. The acids in coffee are a makeup of many variables, like malic acid (green apple), citric acid (lemon, lime), tartaric acid (grape, banana), and acetic acid (vinegar).

The mix of these acids will have major benefits and also some negative effects on coffee flavours in the finished cup.

Some coffee is higher in acidity than others due to the plant type or country of origin. For example, New Guinea coffee is known for high acidity, Kenyan coffee is a lower acidity.

Acidity will also vary between soil type, altitude, temperature of growing conditions and the processing methods.

When we roast coffee, we produce quinic acids and caffeic acids.

The quinic acid is responsible for negative taste profiles like astringency and bitterness and this comes out in darker coffee profiles.

When we roast lighter coffees, we create more caffeic acids that have the fruity profiles.

We know that caffeic acid in light roasting will split milk in the espresso coffee making process, so the dilemma is to roast coffee that is lower in caffeic acid and not too dark where we introduce two much quinic acid and the flavours become lost and bitter.

The juggle is between splitting the milk for look verses taste profiles.

This is the new challenge we are throwing out to coffee roasters, to design better milk based coffees that will visually work with coffee and retain the origin flavours.

Our findings and ideas on best coffee for plant milk.

  • Roast to a medium/dark roast profile – just past second crack. Drop temp of 228oC
  • Pick origins like Brazil and Kenya with low acidity levels
  • Pick coffees that are naturally processed for fruity flavours to break through the plant milk natural flavours
  • Pick high altitude grown coffee as it normally has low acidity
  • Cup the coffee with a variety of plant milks and taste test. Also conduct visual checks of these coffees and take note of the splitting time period from start of pour.
  • We had a few roasters who slowed down roast time to achieve lower acidity. It’s worth experimenting to stretch out the roast curve with temperature control.

Best of luck competing in this new category and enjoy the learning process along the way.  If you have not tried ADC oat, please contact us and we will send samples out for you to experiment with.

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