Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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alternative milks to use depends on the individual shop owner or manager, based on the demographic you serve. Debra says that she sees a lot of the other Pacific Natural alternative milks in shops. "Rice is a mainstay; it's probably been around as long as soy, plus it seems less allergenic and performs harder." Pacific's hazelnut milk is also very popular in the company's home state of Oregon. Though still a dairy, goat milk is another barely explored option. It tends to texture well and be creamy and pourable, though the undeniable gaminess of the milk can be a deterrent to explorative palates. (As a side note, unpasteurized goat's milk reacts differently and often tastes better than processed goat's milk, but the guidelines on pasteurization vary by state.) SOURCING Sourcing options include ordering milk alternatives from food-distribution services. Michael Valverde, owner of Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffeehouse in Kansas City, Mo., buys hemp milk and ingredients for house-made coconut and cashew milks from United Natural Foods Service (UNFI). He buys other dairy alternatives from bulk membership stores like Costco, or from whole living stores like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. You can make your own milks, too: recipes abound on the Internet. STEAMING Nowhere is the difference between milk alternatives and dairy milk more obvious than in the steaming process. "For alternative milk, never go as high [in steam temperature] as dairy since it doesn't have the threshold for heat," says Michael. "Almond milk is a bit more temperamental when it comes to temperature. I try to have everyone stop around 122–125˚F to bring in that chocolateyness that almond milk can offer and avoid a charred flavor." "In general we have found that almond milk steams more akin to nonfat milk, tends to fluff up a bit faster than whole milk, and to our own baristas we recommend lowering the aeration time because you get more foam than you'd believe," says Nathanael. MARKETING & CUSTOMER INPUT It's one thing to decide to change or add to your alternative milks program, and quite another to turn it into a positive marketing and customer-relations move. There are a couple of approaches you can take (and infinite variations). The first is to just switch milks and then deal with the repercussions. "For me, and for Fourbarrel, the personality of our business is sort of like, we take pains to be the best quality we can but we operate like 'We going to do it our way,'" says Jeremy. "Not flippantly, but saying, 'We're going to do it our way and we hope you'll like it.'" For Fourbarrel, it was the right decision. For a smaller shop, however, involving customers more might allow for buzz to build and customers to take ownership of their favorite coffee shop: yours. Engage your customer base on the topic, instead of just doing a swift switch-up on them. Utilize social media to involve your regular guests and draw new ones in. Whatever your motivation to offer alternative milks, remember Devin's mantra: "Our job is to sell coffee and make our guests happy." Explore the world of nondairy milk with as much of an open mind as possible, a rigorous expectation for quality, and an expanding sense of joy. Your options grow every day. blog Updated daily with the most relevant and interesting coffee news and event coverage 76 barista magazine

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