The scene: You’re strolling past the aisles at the supermarket, you see all the different types of milk. “Soy?” “Oat?!” you ask yourself as you contemplate making the jump to a plant based alternative. You decide not to as after all, you stick to what you know - the fresh cow udder stuff. You’ll go home, and you’ll never know what might have been.
So here I am trying to make with a non-exhaustive list. The coffee I used was the House Blend from The Coffee Academics. I was pleasantly surprised that the coffee punched through the milk so well. Often, milk tends to drown the flavour of coffee from capsules - it’s an intensity problem and it’s because the capsules can only hold so much coffee. That wasn’t the case with these capsules, great job!
To make everything as consistent as I could... I programmed the machine to dispense 30ml of coffee into a 170ml cup. All milk options were frothed using the “Flat White” program of the Nespresso Barista (amazing piece of kit). This usually translated into roughly 150ml of final beverage, the foam takes up a bit of volume at the top.
So let’s get to it, here are the options I had the pleasure of trying:
- Meiji Pasteurized Fresh Milk (the standard)
- Meiji Pasteurized Low Fat Milk (the standard’s leaner brother)
- Oatly Organic Oat Drink (The original oat drink)
- Minor Figures Oat M*lk (M*lk because it’s not...milk?)
- Pacific Barista Series Soy Beverage (there were tons of soy options and this looked like the one that would give the soy world a real chance)
Meiji Pasteurised Fresh Milk
This was my benchmark for the review as it’s the most relatable product on the list.
Milk does what milk does, it’s creamy, buttery and toffee was a prominent flavour. The milk foam by the Nespresso Barista was impressive. It was super silky and it got sweeter as it cooled from “hot” to “kinda hot”.
This cup could really be summarised as comforting. It was something that I could drink without having to think too much. It’s the taste that signals the brain that it’s ready to start the day, if that makes sense.
Meiji Pasteurized Low Fat Milk
I was once obese and the dietitian told me to drink low-fat milk instead of regular milk to lose the extra pounds, it worked because I stopped drinking milk altogether. Nevertheless, I tried to be objective.
Chocolatey. In fact, the coffee became rather floral. It wasn’t as creamy, this was expected but the milk foam was good. This was a pretty delicious coffee.
The lack of fat became pretty obvious, it was more watery in the mouth. There wasn’t much of an aftertaste. You know how you can still taste milk after you’ve finished the drink? This didn’t happen with the low fat milk, it finishes really clean, too clean… an indicator that I’m not being naughty.
Oatly Organic Oat Drink
There is a “Barista” version of this milk which I wasn’t able to procure and I’ve been told the barista version is better. I fear that I made a mistake. To be fair, this was the most accessible one.
I prefer the Oatly when it’s hot. It becomes sweeter! With coffee, Oatly gave me the earthiest cup of coffee out of the bunch along with notes of burnt sugar. The mouthfeel was definitely lighter than milk, it didn’t froth very well either.
If you like the tasting notes above, oatly is great! Personally, I would have preferred something less earthy for a daily drinker.
Minor Figures Oat M*lk
This is a product that’s not as ubiquitous as Oatly, so if you’re keen to try it you may have to do some digging.
Funnily enough, I prefered this M*lk cold. On its own it has some pretty tasty natural sweetness. It’s got a really long finish, it is ironically milky.
This was probably the most interesting cup I had from the whole session. It started out really nutty and it became straight up milk tea. The sort where you add evaporated milk to black tea; absolutely wild! In terms of texture, I found it to be the closest to fresh milk.
What an interesting coffee (tea).
Pacific Barista Series: Soy Beverage
Growing up in Malaysia, I’m very used to a different kind of soy beverage. I also don’t drink alternative milks very often; a combination of those meant that this soy beverage tasted funky to me. Is unique a better way to put it?
Thankfully, it tasted much more like the soy I know when it was hot. I let out a sigh of relief and tried it with the coffee. It was very nutty, and had a sugary sweetness to it. It frothed well, as expected of the “Barista” series. The texture was good, the soy aftertaste may not be for everybody but I am fine with it. It’s a very safe dairy alternative.
My primary takeaway from this exercise is that the same coffee paired with different milks could yield such drastically different flavours. So I guess I’ll have to end with a real cliffhanger answer: there is no best milk for coffee capsules. It’s all about what flavours you like in your Flat White.. It’s really about choosing the best Robin for your Batman.
Words by Jit Weng Kok (@si_tiger)