There is no denying that milk makes a great addition to coffee by giving it a creamy texture and cutting down on its acidity. For this reason, it’s possible to add milk to all kinds of coffee, whether you’re an espresso fan or a drip coffee fan.
While espresso being very concentrated makes it easy to add milk to it without diluting the drink too much and create various espresso drinks, this isn’t the case for drip coffee. Since a drip coffee maker produces coffee that is only concentrated enough for being ready to drink, adding too much milk to it can dilute the coffee to a level where it’s way too weak and make it unenjoyable.
At this point, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to put milk in your coffee maker instead of water and brew your coffee with milk instead. You should be able to bring the creamy consistency of milk to your drip coffee without diluting it with this method, right?
Unfortunately, putting milk in your coffee maker is a bad idea that you should avoid at all costs. Doing so can cause a multitude of problems, such as ruining your coffee maker and causing your coffee to taste very unpleasant.
Why Shouldn’t You Put Milk in Your Coffee Maker?
While the ideal brewing temperature for coffee is roughly around 93 degrees Celsius, milk starts scalding at around 81 degrees Celsius. As coffee makers are configured in a way to provide the optimal brewing temperature, your milk will end up being scalded if you put it in your drip coffee maker.
While scalded milk has its uses in baking, it will cause your coffee to taste out of the ordinary and possibly unpleasant. As milk loses its sweetness when it’s scalded due to sugars breaking down at high temperatures, it stops becoming a good addition to coffee, especially if you prefer not to add sugar to your drink.
On top of this, brewing your coffee entirely with milk will most likely cause milk to dominate the overall taste profile of your coffee. You will find that your coffee tastes more like milk and less like coffee, which defeats the purpose of making coffee.
Milk Damages Your Coffee Maker
As we mentioned earlier, your coffee maker will most likely cause milk to be scalded. The negative effects of scalded milk don’t just end with ruining the taste of your coffee but also causes damage to your coffee maker.
Scalded milk will leave residue in the heating element and the pipes of your coffee maker that are inaccessible from the outside. For this reason, cleaning the residue will be impossible without opening it up, which is not something that an unqualified person should do. While running a cleaning cycle may help to a certain point, there is a good chance that it can’t clean the residue completely.
So, what happens when the residue is left in your coffee maker?
Leaving the residue in your coffee maker will eventually cause the pipes to be clogged and possibly cause bacteria and mold to grow inside. If you keep making coffee with your coffee maker after this, you’ll notice that your coffee tastes quite unpleasant and may even make you ill due to the unsanitary conditions.
At the end of the day, you will most likely have to get rid of your coffee maker and buy a new one, which isn’t really a worthy sacrifice for putting milk in it, all things considered.
Adding Milk to Your Coffee
Fortunately, there is a better way of adding milk to your coffee without pouring it directly into your coffee maker, which is to add the milk on top of the coffee.
Since the added milk will dilute your cup, the first thing to do is brew a stronger cup of coffee. While you can achieve this by increasing the coffee to water ratio and using a fine coffee grind, going too far will cause your coffee to taste quite unpleasant. For this reason, experimenting with slight adjustments is the best way to go about it. Bringing the strength of your coffee up a notch will balance the dilution caused by the added milk.
If you have been adding cold milk to your coffee, the sudden temperature change can often be mistaken for coffee tasting weak. By warming your milk on the stovetop before you add it to your coffee, you can keep your coffee at a steady temperature.
Alternative Ways of Making Your Coffee Less Bitter
If you have been using milk as a way to reduce the bitterness of your coffee, there are a few other things you can try that can prove to be helpful. This way, you won’t have to use too much milk (or any at all) and save yourself from having to dilute your coffee.
Robusta beans are known for being bitter, whereas Arabica beans are considered to be sweeter, which is why Robusta beans are often added to blends in small amounts to balance out the flavor.
That being said, it’s possible to find blends that consist completely of Arabica beans as Arabica beans are considered to be of higher quality as a rule of thumb.
If you are using a blend that contains a certain amount of Robusta beans, it may be a good idea to switch to a blend that is 100% Arabica instead to cut the bitterness down.
Another factor that can affect the bitterness of your coffee is the roast level of your beans.
As the roast level gets darker, so does the bitterness, which is why going for a lighter roast level is a good way to make your coffee less bitter.
We recommend medium roast beans for drip coffee as a light roast can cause your coffee to lack flavor. That being said, feel free to experiment and find out the flavor profile you like the most.
The next thing you can change is the grind size of your coffee. A finer grind size means a higher level of extraction, meaning your coffee will turn out more bitter.
While the grind size you should be using for drip coffee is medium as a rule of thumb, you can experiment with a grind size that is coarser to lower the extraction level and reduce bitterness.
Coffee to Water Ratio
The last thing to consider is the coffee to water ratio.
A good starting point is to use the golden ratio of 1 gram of coffee per 17 ml of water. Feel free to adjust the ratio by using an amount of water that ranges between 16 and 18 milliliters, but try not to stray too far from this range.
Switching to Espresso
If your reason for adding milk to your coffee is simply because of your love for the combination of coffee and milk, espresso is perhaps a better brewing method for you. While milk is something you externally add to drip coffee, it’s a staple ingredient of a multitude of different espresso-based drinks.
Drinks that are known for their heavy milk content, such as a latte or a cappuccino, are all espresso-based. Since espresso is quite concentrated, adding a large amount of milk doesn’t dilute it to a level where the taste of coffee starts fading away, making it the perfect brewing method for making milky coffee drinks.
While an espresso machine is a costly investment compared to a drip coffee maker, you should definitely consider it if drinking coffee with milk is the most enjoyable way of having coffee for you.
While adding milk directly into your coffee maker is not something we can recommend for the reasons we have been talking about, there are indeed better ways to enjoy a cup of coffee with milk.
Going for these alternate ways rather than putting milk into your coffee maker will ensure that you enjoy a better coffee experience without causing any harm to your coffee maker.
Have a great day, and enjoy your coffee!