The Great Debate: Can You Brew Coffee with Milk?

Last updated on September 19th, 2023 by Jules Winnfield

Can You Brew Coffee with Milk

In a normal situation, coffee lovers around the world brew their coffee with water before diving into the delicious, strong aroma of the life-saving elixir. But for those who love coffee with milk, you might be wondering if can you brew coffee with milk to start with and cut out the middleman.

The answer is a resounding yes!

Although some traditional brewing methods are off the table because of the possibility of scalding the milk, there are several methods of brewing coffee with milk that will leave you satisfied with a creamier, less acidic cup of joe. 

Why Brew Coffee With Milk?

Why Brew Coffee With Milk
Mixture of coffee and milk goodness.
Photo by pariwat pannium

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you have been enjoying a water-brewed cup of coffee, is there really a reason to switch up your brewing methods to milk? There are several reasons why coffee lovers brew coffee with milk instead of water during the extraction process:

  • Produces a creamier texture with slightly sweet notes
  • Eliminates the bitter qualities of coffee
  • Enhances flavor with fats and proteins of milk
  • Creates a creamier beverage
  • Nutrients like calcium and vitamin D in the milk create positive health benefits 
  • Can reduce calorie count when compared to cream and sugar use
  • Counteracts the bitterness of coffee beans

On the other hand, not all coffee connoisseurs are sold on the idea of brewing coffee with milk. The process is more worrisome than brewing with water, and definitely reduces the coffee flavor of your hot beverage

  • Milk can clog your brewing device
  • If you heat milk to the wrong temperature it can curdle
  • Milk is a problematic choice for traditional drip coffee makers
  • Milk is more expensive
  • Milk is perishable

Choosing the Right Milk

Choosing the Right Milk
Milk bottle sizes.
Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi

With such a wide variety of milks to choose from, what is the best direction to move in when it comes to choosing the type of milk in which to brew your coffee? This choice definitely allows for your own personal taste, as well as the lifestyle choices you adhere to. 

Whole Milk

The quintessential choice for brewing coffee with milk is whole milk. With just the right amount of fat and a dose of vitamins like A, D, E, and K, whole milk is the perfect choice to add flavor and creaminess to your coffee. Avoid whole milk if you are on a calorie-counting diet or if you are lactose intolerant. 

Skim Milk

If you like the taste of milk and want to add this to your brewing technique, but you don’t want the fat associated with whole milk, some people choose skim milk. Skim milk will not be as creamy as whole milk and lacks the vitamins as well. This is probably the poorest choice overall. 

Almond Milk

If you are looking for a vegan alternative for brewing with milk, almond milk adds a slightly sweet, nutty flavor to the mix. It is low in calories and extremely high in vitamin E, which offers a skin and immune system boost. With fewer calories than soy milk, but also less protein, this is nonetheless becoming a more popular choice. 

Soy Milk

Another popular milk alternative is soy milk, a creamy liquid that mimics regular cow’s milk. There are soy milks that are unsweetened and also those with sweetener added. It is nearly as nutritious as cow’s milk, and contains the myriad of amino acids and minerals like potassium that will positively affect your body.

Although soy milk has been controversial for its questionable health ramifications in recent years, Good Housekeeping magazine reported, “There has also been concern that the isoflavones in soy can affect men’s hormonal levels, lowering testosterone and raising estrogen levels. But a recent review of 41 studies found no apparent effect of hormonal disturbance as a result of soy protein or isoflavone intake.”

Oat Milk

One of the newest milk phenomena is oat milk, which was only invented in 2018. If you are lactose intolerant or allergic to nuts, this is a great alternative that will offer you a milky taste, high fiber, and calcium and vitamin D. It is higher in calories with 130 calories to its name, but the added fiber is a definite positive. 

Choosing Coffee Beans

Choosing Coffee Beans
Coffee beans color range.
Photo by nousnou iwasaki

When discerning what type of coffee bean to use when brewing with milk, there are several considerations to make.

Because you are using milk to brew, lighter roasted beans or those with more fruity less intense flavor will not be able to stand up to the milk.

Therefore, choose bold-flavored beans, dark roasted beans that can punch through the milk and give you a more full-bodied flavor. With robust beans, you will have a richer cup of coffee; with lighter beans, you will risk creating a cup of warm milk that doesn’t taste much like coffee at all.

Some people may also worry about the need for single origin beans, but that is up to your personal preference. 

Brew Types

Brew Types
Pour-over brew method.
Photo by Karl Fredrickson

Because heating the milk can cause it to curdle and getting the temperature right is a very delicate matter, brewing coffee with milk is best accomplished with Cold Brew, a Pour Over, or a French Press.

Keep in mind that the coffee will brew slightly faster with milk than it does with water because it can actually extract coffee oils more easily than water can. 

Cold Brew

Brewing Cold Brew coffee with milk is arguably the best way to brew with milk. Additionally, the sugar content in milk creates a sweeter and creamier cold brew coffee than normal. 

With Cold Brew, there is no risk of burning or scalding the milk, and you can adjust the brewing time to your taste. In general, brewing with milk will be faster than water so you should lessen the time that you normally use to cold brew. 

French Press

Because French Press coffee is so delicate, you need to be very careful when brewing coffee with milk. Adding milk to the coffee changes the temperature you need to properly extract the coffee beans. Heating the milk in the microwave first will allow the process to work better overall.

Step by Step: Brewing French Press Coffee With Milk

French Press Coffee With Milk
The ultimate French Press technique.
Photo by Rachel Brenner

Brewing coffee in milk is not a difficult process, and in no time you will have a delicious cup of coffee to enjoy. Here are the steps to take using French press as our method:

  1. Gather your materials, including the French press, bold coffee, and the milk of your choice.
  2. Heat the milk slowly on the stove or using a microwave to 160 degrees. Microwaving for 50-60 seconds should work well. This will prevent scalding.
  3. If you want to have a heartier coffee flavor when using milk, finer grounds will work best. A 1:15 coffee to milk ratio will create the best flavor. Light roast coffee will not create the desired result. 
  4. Add the coffee to your French Press and steep for about 4 minutes. 
  5. Push the plunger on the French Press to separate the grounds from the coffee and pour it into your favorite cup!

French Press coffee will be best-served hot, and there is really no need to add anything because you have already brewed it in your favorite type of milk. If you would like to add sugar or a sweetener, that would certainly enhance the taste.

French Press coffee goes well with a wide variety of desserts such as cakes and tarts. A robust coffee would always go well with chocolate, and a flourless chocolate cake would be the perfect choice. Fruit tarts such as a raspberry fruit tart will also fit the bill.

Final Thoughts

No matter what milk you choose or what dessert you pair with your milk-brewed coffee, this innovative beverage is sure to tickle your taste buds. Although most people are used to brewing coffee with water, using milk enhances the taste and the nutritional content of the drink. This new twist on an old favorite is sure to delight your senses.  

While brewing milk with coffee is a possible option, there are also options on coffee drinks that require a chilled milk. One of them is dirty coffee. Find out more about it.


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