How to make herbal drinks in a café operation


The fact that trends change quickly is also true in the coffee industry. I'd say it wasn't that long ago that the only cappuccino I could order in a café was made with long-life cow's milk. And how is the milk offer in the café today? An interest in organics, a vegan lifestyle andfinding a way not to restrict yourself even if youhave allergies or lactose intolerance. All this inspires café owners to offer milk alternatives as well.

Cafés have always been associated with current social events and trends. And plant milks have been around longer than you might expect. Soaking almonds in water and then straining them, this recipe for almond milk was known to Europeans in the Middle Ages. Soy milk has its origins in 14th century China. The rediscovery of these plant-based beverages and their introduction into the coffee-making process in cafés began with the well available soy milk.


The motivation to introduce plant-based drinks as alternatives to milk in coffee shops is most often based on customer demand. Advocates of plant-based diets are also your customers. In addition to a completely vegan lifestyle, there are more and more people who have not completely eliminated animal products from their diet, but consume them only in small quantities. These occasional vegetarians (vegans) are generally called flexitarians.

Then there are people who areallergic to cow's milk and avoidlactose. I mustn't forget theenvironmentally minded coffee drinkers who are trying to help reduce the industrial production of animal milk. This has a significant impact on the production of greenhouse gases and of course there is the ethical issue of mass animal farming.

In the UK, for example, up to a third of the populationprefers cow's milk substitutes. The same market research shows that plant-based alternatives to milk are particularly favoured by Generation Z. That is, people born from the mid-1990s onwards. Up to 33% of these young people ( up to about 25 years of age) drink plant-based milks.

That plant-based beverages can be good business has been proven by oat milk makers Oatly, whose sales increased tenfold between 2017 and 2018 to $15 million. Having plant milks in your café is so good for the specific needs of your customers, the ecology, and - most importantly for the future - the economics of your business.

Plant milk doesn't have to be a substitute, but the main ingredient in original coffee drinks. Don't be afraid to include these "milks" in your offer. Moreover, plant milks for baristas are adapted for better whipping and latte art creation as with classic milk. Image source:


You've decided to make room for plant milk in your coffee menu. That's a great move, but even better would be tooffer customers at least two milk alternatives. Because these substitutes just aren't traditional milk. The characteristics of each plant-based beverage may suit some more and not others.

One customer may prefer soy milk for its consistency and non-disturbing taste, while another is allergic to soy. Some people enjoy an aromatic cappuccino made with coconut milk, while others like to try something different every time. Whether you opt for one type or several types of plant milks will be your priority when choosing:

  • How the coffee tasteswith the milk substitute ,
  • what thefinal coffee will look like
  • and how the plant milk can bewhipped (suitable for latte art).


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Among the first adepts of plant-based milk substitutes for coffee should definitely be oat milk. The most significant benefit for using oat milk in conjunction with coffee is its taste and texture. Oat milk has a balanced, almost neutral taste that suits a number of customers looking for plant-based alternatives.

Oat milk can also appeal to customers because of its fibre content and low environmental impact in production. When preparing an oatmeal cappuccino, it will delight with its non-clotting nature in coffee. Due to the lower protein content, patience is required when whisking. The actual frothing of soya milk is almost twice as long as that of cow's milk. As a result ,latte art can be created quite well, but the froth is not very stable.


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Used to be the only option for a vegan latte at the coffee shop, the one made with soy milk. Soy milk is readily available and has great whipping properties. Whipping soy milk is easy, even frothing is much faster than cow's milk. It also doesn't taste too bad. It's quite neutral, so it doesn't overpower the taste of the coffee.

However, be careful to get the temperature right when making it. Cold or too hot milk has a higher chance of curdlingwhen added to coffee . To avoid serving coffee "tofu" instead of a soy latte, heat the soy milk to a slightly lower temperature than you're used to with regular milk. It also helps to combine it with low-acid coffee, for example as an espresso blend.


For nut milks in general, the most important characteristics to combine with coffee are:

  • a distinctive nutty flavour and aroma
  • more difficult foaming and latte art
  • separating the layers of whipped milk

Soy in nut milk?

The better properties of nut milks for baristas are obtained by adding stabilisers and by combining them with soya milk. Due to possible allergies to soy, read the ingredients on the packaging and warn your guests.


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A fragrant and sweet coconut cappuccino sounds tempting, but if that's the kind of goodness we're craving. And that's the same problem and benefit of nut milks, as well as coconut drinks. Itworks like milk - it can befrothed and combined with coffee, but we have to reckon with its distinct sweet coconut taste overshadowing the coffee.

Themilk createslarge bubbleswhen whipped and results in anon-compact and quicklyseparating (the thicker and watery part). For best results, I recommend not exceeding 60°C when whipping coconut milk. The barista version of coconut milk increases the chances of better foam and latte art.


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Almond drink is one of the most popular nut milks. However, the almond flavor overpowers the potential of coffee in the drink. However, if you allow for this, almond milk can be a great plant-based alternative to coffees flavored with almond syrup.

Whipped milk has a thin , unstable foam and a tendency to separate the foam and the watery part. A little longer frothing will help. It is important to control the temperature, as you will achieve the smoothest texture with almond milk around 55 °C. From an ecological point of view, almond milk has the disadvantage that a significant amount of water is used in its production.


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You don't have to worry about the pea green colour or the taste of pea porridge. Pea coffee drinks are made from yellow peas or pea protein. It is lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free and does not interfere with the taste of the coffee in the drink.

Because of its properties, works well with pea milk, whether it is whipped or latte art. It has a minimal tendency to curdle in coffee. Since pea is relatively new among vegetable milks, it is not so well known among consumers. Anyway , itis worth trying it!


Finally, I have a tip for you on a plant milk alternative deliberately made specifically for use in coffee. This is not an improved version of natural plant milk, but a drink created with the perfect plant milk coffee in mind.

The fact that Rebel Kitchen is serious about this is evidenced by the over 100 recipes they have made for this milk. Theytestedthe versions they created with coffee legend James Hoffman and found the perfect combination of oat-coconut-bean milk called Barista MYLK.

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