Brewing Coffee with Milk

Even though coffee is brewed with water, milk is one of the first things we associate with coffee due to its existence in plenty of different coffee drinks. While milk is a core ingredient in some coffee drinks such as a latte, it’s also frequently used in coffee drinks such as drip coffee, where milk is optional.

Even if you are someone who enjoys black coffee, you will find it hard to deny that milk complements coffee in a very natural way by giving it a creamy mouthfeel and a slight sweetness.

So, since milk works so well with coffee, can we use milk to brew coffee?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Regardless of the brewing method you use, brewing coffee with milk isn’t something you should be doing. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee (90-95 degrees Celsius) is way too high for milk, which causes it to scald and lose the qualities that make it a good addition to coffee.

Depending on the brewing method you’re using, you may be facing even more problems than the scalding issue, which we will be discussing next.

Problems with Brewing Coffee with Milk

First, let’s go deeper into the scalding problem we have talked about earlier. Milk starts scalding at a temperature range of 75 to 80 degrees Celsius, whereas the optimal temperature for brewing coffee is around 90 to 95 degrees Celsius. Because of this, your milk will start to scald way before you reach the optimal brewing temperatures.

That being said, milk being scalded doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s burnt and unusable, and in fact, scalded milk is used in a multitude of baking recipes. On the other hand, the changes that milk undergoes during the scalding process make milk a less desirable addition to coffee due to the changes in taste. 

As scalding causes the proteins and the sugars in the milk to break down, there is a considerable change in the taste of milk that isn’t necessarily in the positive direction.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the issues you may be facing that are specific to the brewing method you use.

Percolator and Moka Pot

Since the problem that is caused by brewing coffee with milk is the same for both percolators and moka pots, we will be talking about these two brewing methods at the same time.

To put it simply, milk that has been heated to very high temperatures will immediately cause your percolator or moka pot to be filled with milk residue that sticks to the walls of your coffee maker. Since this residue can be cleaned rather easily if you don’t let it stay there for too long, it’s important to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Leaving the residue in for too long and brewing coffee while the residue is still there will negatively impact the taste of your coffee and possibly even cause bacteria to develop in your moka pot or percolator.

Pour Over

While you won’t be facing a problem that is too big in the case of pour-over coffee, there is a chance that milk doesn’t go smoothly through the paper filter and potentially even clog it depending on the filter you’re using.

Using a filter with larger holes such as a metal filter can prove to be helpful.

French Press

With the French press, there is the risk of milk residue sticking to the equipment once again.

That being said, the problem won’t be as severe as in the case of percolators and moka pots as a French press is made largely of glass that can be cleaned rather easily.

Cold Brew with Milk

You may have noticed that none of the problems we have mentioned earlier can happen if the cold brew method is used. 

So, is cold brew the answer to brewing coffee with milk? Let’s find out.

It turns out that it’s indeed possible to cold brew with milk and produce a cup of coffee that tastes alright. That being said, the extraction of coffee in milk is much faster than water, which is why it’s a good idea to reduce the brewing time. Using the same brewing time as you would with water most likely cause your coffee to turn out quite bitter.

We recommend trying a brewing time of 8 to 12 hours as a starting point and experimenting depending on the result. Other than the change in brewing time, you can follow the standard way of cold brewing without an issue.

You may also stumble upon some difficulty with straining as milk is quite thick compared to water. To overcome this issue, you can try using a strainer that is padded with a paper towel.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you make instant coffee with milk instead of water?

You can make instant coffee with milk instead of water without any problems. Since instant coffee can dissolve in almost any liquid, feel free to prepare your instant coffee with milk, or even half and half.

Adding instant coffee to cold milk and then warming it up is a good way of ensuring that the coffee dissolves well enough in milk.

Should you put milk in first when making coffee?

While it won’t make a great deal of difference, pouring the coffee first and then adding the milk is the standard way of doing things.

That being said, if you are used to pouring the milk first, there isn’t any reason to change your habit.

Conclusion

Even though milk is a great addition to coffee, brewing coffee with milk is a bad idea for plenty of different reasons, with the main one being the taste of your coffee getting ruined.

We recommend following the standard way of brewing coffee with water and adding milk on top to ensure a smooth coffee drinking experience.

Have a great day, and enjoy your coffee!