What is almond milk?
Almond milk is made by blending almonds with water and straining the pulp. It's easy enough to make at home and has exponentially increased in popularity since 2000 when it became a staple on health food store shelves.
At first glance, growing almonds and drinking almond milk coffee sounds like a more environmentally friendly option than consuming cows' milk, but there are people who claim otherwise.
Peter Hemingway of the Sustainable Restaurant Association says, "It takes a bonkers 1,611 US gallons (6,098 litres) to produce 1 litre of almond milk."
That hasn't stopped us buying it though.
According to a Nielsen report, plant based milk sales rose by 9% in 2017 while cow's milk declined by 6%. Non-dairy milks, including almond milk make up 15% of our total milk sales.
But the problem is, unlike cows' milk, almond milk has that pesky downside of curdling when you add it to a hot drink. So, what can you do about that?
Why almond milk splits when you add it to coffee
"There are three main reasons almond milk curdles in coffee," says Dan Mashman, barista at Gertrude & Alice bookstore and cafe in Bondi.
"Strong coffee splits all the nut milks," says Mashman. "The stronger the coffee, the higher the acidity and the greater chance the almond milk will curdle," says Mashman. "Also, if you overheat the almond milk it'll split, and fresh nut milk will curdle too."
Mashman says the only way to stop your almond milk from separating is to use a processed dairy free milk such as Milk Lab's Almond Milk.
Mashman only uses the Milk Lab range of milk alternatives. "It's made for baristas," he says. The Milk Lab website says they spent countless hours blending and testing to create the best almond milk for coffee.
One of the ways Milk Lab have overcome the almond milk in coffee curdling problem is by adding stabilisers.
"Our unique recipe brings you not only a milk that complements the intensity of espresso but also textures and stretches with any coffee type."
How to prevent almond milk from curdling
According to coffee giant Nespresso, the reason why dairy-free milks split and cow's milk doesn't, comes down to the protein content.
"Almond milk and other dairy-free alternatives are notoriously difficult to thicken and use for latte art, and this is because of their lower protein content."
"The low percentage of almonds within many almond milk brands means that quite often you’re trying to foam a milk that’s largely made up of water. But there is a way. Look for good quality almond milk with a higher percentage of almonds."
At-home solutions t prevent curdling are to gently and slowly heat your almond milk. Cold almond milk will always separate when it hits a hot solution.
So, sticking to one shot of coffee and pouring heated almond milk in slowly, should solve the problem of why your almond milk curdles in coffee.
Which almond milk is best?
If you're adamant about drinking almond milk and want to get the smoothest coffee, here are some reviews of different brands of processed nut milk.
"Literally the best almond milk I’ve tried so far."
"Beautiful product, nice and creamy. Finally a good alternative to soy milk that I can enjoy either with my coffee or plain!"
"Very watery and has almost no foamy texture to it. Started to separate after about 15 minutes, which is not appealing to look at while drinking."