I'm curious. The shop I "grew up" in as a barista used Whole Milk as default for capps, lattes, etc. 2% was used for the low-fat versions and there was no fat free milk to be found on the premises. This seems like a no brainer to me. Am I crazy? When someone says the word milk, I think Whole Milk, because that's what milk is. If you mean any other kind of milk that's been modified in some way, you qualify by saying, "Skim Milk", or "Low Fat Milk", or "Fat Free Milk." Right? So, by extending that logic, shouldn't drink names be treated the same way? Now, I'm hearing that some places, including *$, are using 2% as their standard, default milk. Is this really true? Is there a general industry standard on this? I get really pissed if I order a cappucino and take a sip only to discover that the barista used low-fat milk without even asking me. I don't need a societal nanny forcing me to cut down on my fat intake. I choose when and where to cut the fat, thanks. That just doesn't seem right. Do any of you offer skim in your places? We do, but it steams/foams/pours/tastes like crap. Maybe it's my skills, I don't know, but I want to nix it. Thoughts, opinions, comiserations???

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I'm afraid my primary question got lost somewhere in all the ranting. What's your standard milk for a drink order with no modifier attached to it? Thanks :)
I'd be surprised if any quality focused shop on here didn't use whole milk as their default. 2% is used by the less quality focused to cut costs, typically.

We offer skim milk if someone wants it, but we actually receive very few requests for it, which is rare in our "coffee desert" neck of the woods. The other shops I have worked at in the area all went through massive amounts of skim milk, we only go through just a few gallons of it a week, which I think is awesome (because I'm a fan of whole milk).

-bry
I use the proper stuff or whole milk as it is usually called. Its all about taste. I mean its only 2% more fat but it tastes so much better. The semi skimmed stuff gives it a thinner consistence and body.
I used to be all about the whole milk all the time. Then I started actually tasting things regularly using different types of milk (mixing skim and whole to create desired fat contents). Since then I'm not one to jump to whole right away for everything. We use a lot of single origin espresso and are rotating them out all the time. While our regular blend works well with whole milk we found it actually performs best flavor-wise with 3/4 whole, 1/4 skim, which equates approximately to 3% milk fat. But it's not the most feasible thing to be mixing milks in the middle of a rush for every drink, or to ensure everyone is mixing there milks right and all that, so we generally opt for a whole milk default on shifts. With our SOEs we have found that a lot of the more delicate espressos get way to washed out in whole milk, but will blossom in 2%. I say let your espresso tell you what milk to default at, a lot of the heavy body, cocoa, and smokey espressos may very well work in whole milk, or who knows, even higher fat content.

Would you be pissed if I served you a cappuccino with say a delicate fruity Kenya, and used 2% milk so that the awesome yet subtle apricot acidity wasn't completely lost?
Being a Barista, and being well ingrained in the industry, frankly I would be pissed if you served me that Kenya with 2% with either asking me first or offering a side-by-side comparison so that I may determine which is better myself. Even if it turns out that you're right and it does go better with 2%, I won't tollerate someone else making my decisions for me.



Andy Atkinson said:
I used to be all about the whole milk all the time. Then I started actually tasting things regularly using different types of milk (mixing skim and whole to create desired fat contents). Since then I'm not one to jump to whole right away for everything. We use a lot of single origin espresso and are rotating them out all the time. While our regular blend works well with whole milk we found it actually performs best flavor-wise with 3/4 whole, 1/4 skim, which equates approximately to 3% milk fat. But it's not the most feasible thing to be mixing milks in the middle of a rush for every drink, or to ensure everyone is mixing there milks right and all that, so we generally opt for a whole milk default on shifts. With our SOEs we have found that a lot of the more delicate espressos get way to washed out in whole milk, but will blossom in 2%. I say let your espresso tell you what milk to default at, a lot of the heavy body, cocoa, and smokey espressos may very well work in whole milk, or who knows, even higher fat content. Would you be pissed if I served you a cappuccino with say a delicate fruity Kenya, and used 2% milk so that the awesome yet subtle apricot acidity wasn't completely lost?
But by just jumping to whole milk aren't we just making peoples decisions for them anyway by assuming thats what tastes best? Or are we just arbitrarily doing things without regard to quality in the cup. There is a lot that we do that is making decisions for people based on what we believe is the highest quality product. Deciding the volume of espresso to use with a given amount of milk, our decision to use certain espresso blends or singe origins, our decisions of what size drinks we want to push. I think if you would get pissed over that then your concern may not be with the ultimate quality in the cup. I don't see how we can really trust ourselves if we are just always assuming that one way is correct. Would you be pissed that I also made the decision to pull that Kenya to 1.5 oz with a boiler temp of 200.5 degrees at 8.75 bar, and made the decision to steam your milk to 146 degrees? We make these decisions for people every day because we work with these coffees and know them the best. So why are we pulling the punches with the milk decisions, and just choosing what we add to these espressos by some random ideal of "this is always best"?

Alex said:
Being a Barista, and being well ingrained in the industry, frankly I would be pissed if you served me that Kenya with 2% with either asking me first or offering a side-by-side comparison so that I may determine which is better myself. Even if it turns out that you're right and it does go better with 2%, I won't tollerate someone else making my decisions for me.



Andy Atkinson said:
I used to be all about the whole milk all the time. Then I started actually tasting things regularly using different types of milk (mixing skim and whole to create desired fat contents). Since then I'm not one to jump to whole right away for everything. We use a lot of single origin espresso and are rotating them out all the time. While our regular blend works well with whole milk we found it actually performs best flavor-wise with 3/4 whole, 1/4 skim, which equates approximately to 3% milk fat. But it's not the most feasible thing to be mixing milks in the middle of a rush for every drink, or to ensure everyone is mixing there milks right and all that, so we generally opt for a whole milk default on shifts. With our SOEs we have found that a lot of the more delicate espressos get way to washed out in whole milk, but will blossom in 2%. I say let your espresso tell you what milk to default at, a lot of the heavy body, cocoa, and smokey espressos may very well work in whole milk, or who knows, even higher fat content. Would you be pissed if I served you a cappuccino with say a delicate fruity Kenya, and used 2% milk so that the awesome yet subtle apricot acidity wasn't completely lost?
Just to clarify, whole milk (3.25% fat) is over 60% higher in fat content than 2%. In any case, that doesn't deter me from whole. ;-)

Joshua Furlow said:
I use the proper stuff or whole milk as it is usually called. Its all about taste. I mean its only 2% more fat but it tastes so much better. The semi skimmed stuff gives it a thinner consistence and body.
The issue is perception of choice.

There is a consumer choice as to which milk they have with their coffee, there has been for a long time and we don't hide the fact. To take that choice away, even for a single origin that may work best with something else will provoke anger, frustration and criticism.
A simple "we have found that this particular coffee is enhanced by using 2% milk rather than whole, would you like to try that?" is all you need, and is perfectly reasonable - it still allows them the option of saying "no thanks, 2% tastes like arse", or "no thanks, I'll have soy - I'm lactose intolerant."
would you deny someone the pleasure of enjoying a particular origin because they're lactose intolerant?
As far as the temperature, the volume, and the pressure of the extraction goes; these things have never been traditionally a consumer choice (disregarding a ristretto shot and thus, in a loose sense, the volume of the shot), a customer is blind to these variables. If they were presented in such a way as to offer a choice to the consumer and you all of a sudden decided to make that choice for them contrary to the standard - yes, I would be pissed.

My whole point is, if there is a choice for the customer to make, it's for the customer to make. By all means make a recommendation, but don't go making the choice for them without expecting a backlash.

Andy Atkinson said:
But by just jumping to whole milk aren't we just making peoples decisions for them anyway by assuming thats what tastes best? Or are we just arbitrarily doing things without regard to quality in the cup. There is a lot that we do that is making decisions for people based on what we believe is the highest quality product. Deciding the volume of espresso to use with a given amount of milk, our decision to use certain espresso blends or singe origins, our decisions of what size drinks we want to push. I think if you would get pissed over that then your concern may not be with the ultimate quality in the cup. I don't see how we can really trust ourselves if we are just always assuming that one way is correct. Would you be pissed that I also made the decision to pull that Kenya to 1.5 oz with a boiler temp of 200.5 degrees at 8.75 bar, and made the decision to steam your milk to 146 degrees? We make these decisions for people every day because we work with these coffees and know them the best. So why are we pulling the punches with the milk decisions, and just choosing what we add to these espressos by some random ideal of "this is always best"? Alex said:
Being a Barista, and being well ingrained in the industry, frankly I would be pissed if you served me that Kenya with 2% with either asking me first or offering a side-by-side comparison so that I may determine which is better myself. Even if it turns out that you're right and it does go better with 2%, I won't tollerate someone else making my decisions for me.



Andy Atkinson said:
I used to be all about the whole milk all the time. Then I started actually tasting things regularly using different types of milk (mixing skim and whole to create desired fat contents). Since then I'm not one to jump to whole right away for everything. We use a lot of single origin espresso and are rotating them out all the time. While our regular blend works well with whole milk we found it actually performs best flavor-wise with 3/4 whole, 1/4 skim, which equates approximately to 3% milk fat. But it's not the most feasible thing to be mixing milks in the middle of a rush for every drink, or to ensure everyone is mixing there milks right and all that, so we generally opt for a whole milk default on shifts. With our SOEs we have found that a lot of the more delicate espressos get way to washed out in whole milk, but will blossom in 2%. I say let your espresso tell you what milk to default at, a lot of the heavy body, cocoa, and smokey espressos may very well work in whole milk, or who knows, even higher fat content. Would you be pissed if I served you a cappuccino with say a delicate fruity Kenya, and used 2% milk so that the awesome yet subtle apricot acidity wasn't completely lost?
Our default is whole, skinny = 1% and get zero complaints for not carrying skim, Breve = 1/2&1/2 and once in a while get complaint for not offering whipping cream for Breve, but so seldom I'm not going to carry it "except' to make our whipped cream. And that quart of whipping cream in the fridge is strictly ONLY for the whipped cream I don't care who the customer or their won't be enough whipped cream for the next batch. (What I had to hammer into one employees head who did open it and use it for a Breve, because a customer saw it and asked.) Oh, for the record the only drink that includes whipped cream by default (without a charge uplift) is hot chocolate. I charge for whipped cream just like it's an additional flavor, which it is (and then some cost wise.)
Damn, that was well thought out and well, smart. Good considerations.

Cheers,
ChrisG (who happens to be someone who jumps to whole milk)


Andy Atkinson said:
I used to be all about the whole milk all the time. Then I started actually tasting things regularly using different types of milk (mixing skim and whole to create desired fat contents). Since then I'm not one to jump to whole right away for everything. We use a lot of single origin espresso and are rotating them out all the time. While our regular blend works well with whole milk we found it actually performs best flavor-wise with 3/4 whole, 1/4 skim, which equates approximately to 3% milk fat. But it's not the most feasible thing to be mixing milks in the middle of a rush for every drink, or to ensure everyone is mixing there milks right and all that, so we generally opt for a whole milk default on shifts. With our SOEs we have found that a lot of the more delicate espressos get way to washed out in whole milk, but will blossom in 2%. I say let your espresso tell you what milk to default at, a lot of the heavy body, cocoa, and smokey espressos may very well work in whole milk, or who knows, even higher fat content.

Would you be pissed if I served you a cappuccino with say a delicate fruity Kenya, and used 2% milk so that the awesome yet subtle apricot acidity wasn't completely lost?
Whole milk for me, thanks. Has anyone tried Horizon Organic Whole? It is amazing, and I strongly suggest getting some even if it's just for your own drinks.
"A simple "we have found that this particular coffee is enhanced by using 2% milk rather than whole, would you like to try that?" is all you need, and is perfectly reasonable."

I can dig where you are coming from. In fact, in practice this is usually how it goes down. As far as specific milk requests, I'm totally down with makin someone what they need.

I think the issue at hand, or at least the issue that I'm trying to get at, is about the concept of standards. Why should something be a standard if I know that a deviation from that "standard" will express my product in a better way? (Not trying to call people out here, this is more of a question to spark discussion.) If we stick by the "but it's always been that way" idea, then how can we expect to see changes and progression in the industry. To go to the all too common comparison of high end coffee striving to mimic what high end food is achieved, it's like going in to a fine restaurant and trusting the chef to make the quality decisions for you, I think we need to build that trust with out customers that allows us to push the lines of "standards" for the sake of quality.

I'm not saying "let's strip the customer of choice." I'm saying that we need to create a reputation and trust with the customer about our product that they willingly to and eager to give us the privilege to choose for them for the sake of getting the most properly represented product. I know for a fact, from personal experience, that this is not only possible, but fairly easy. We have a growing group of customers who allow us this privilege (regarding not only milk choice, but espresso choice, and extraction volume choice) every day at my store. For some people it has become a situation of "well you know what I usually get, but I'll have whatever you think is tasting best today".

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