Is filter coffee with milk wrong? Or has the argument of taste being personal and personal preference just become too big? I’ve been asking myself this for a long time. Maybe it’s a waste of time but here are my thoughts.
If you go to the supermarket and you buy some Italian style roasted coffee with strength 5 and all the rest on the side, you can go right ahead and add milk to it, because that’s probably the only way it would be drinkable. Now I understand some people don’t want to spent £10-£14 on a bag of coffee but every time I have a conversation that starts with ‘oh yeah, I’m super into coffee’ but they drink instant or something like that I die a little inside.
I don’t have this reaction because I think I’m better than them or that I think they’re stupid, but because It’s a constant reminder that speciality coffee is not that big here (UK) and is still very much a growing industry.
I am often referred to as a “coffee snob”, and in a way they are right but also in another way they are wrong. Yes I will turn my nose up at you if you add milk to a delicious single origin from Ethiopia that’s perfectly fine on its own.
But why? Why would I do that? Because coffee is an amazing drink, all the flavours that occur in coffee are completely natural, from the moment it’s picked to when it’s roasted nothing has been altered or changed. When coffee is roasted correctly the roaster will have brought those flavours and characteristics that already exist to life, so when you add milk you dilute, mask and take the majority of those flavours away and in some cases the drink tastes worse and is ruined.
Coffee goes on such a huge journey to get to our cups. From growing and caring for the plants to harvesting (i.e hand picking in some farms) to then processing at the farm. Onto storing, roasting and packing at the roasters, there is an incredible amount of care that goes into coffee that is all centred around making sure it tastes perfect, I just think it’s a rather sad story that at the very end of the journey we can essentially say all that work is for nothing.
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By Dan Roberts
Crosby Coffee Head Barista & Trainee Roaster