There’s nothing more satisfying than making the perfect cappuccino. Even if the espresso shot pulls perfectly, the drink could still be ruined if the milk isn’t properly prepared. You’ll know perfect milk when you hear it— as the milk steams, a whooshing whirlpool noise will fill your ears. Once you’ve knocked your pitcher hard against the counter to get rid of any bubbles and swirled around the shiny, wet-paint-textured milk, it not only makes for some beautiful latte art but also coaxes out the drink’s flavor.
So milk is kind of a big deal. And in the growing, third-wave movements of coffee, baristas are increasingly turning their attention to the importance ofmilk. In London, Shaun Young—founder of Noble Espresso—decided to buy his own dairy herd to create milk specifically for his espresso drinks. He and his business partner, Rebecca Young, quickly realized that managing a dairy herd is quite a lot of work, so they went for the next best thing and partnered with a local dairy. It took six months and thirty conversations with local dairy farmers before they found Ed Towers at Brades Farm. Ed’s family had been dairy farming since the 1960s, and with coffee industry experience in Tanzania to boot, he was the perfect fit.
Thus was the beginning of a beautiful friendship: Brades Farm cares for the 70-odd Jersey cows—whose milk has some of the highest butterfat amongst dairy breeds and is especially well suited for coffee—and Young bottles and brands the milk as The Estate Dairy. Two months into the business, the venture is selling 4,000 two liter bottles of milk weekly to local cafés.
The Estate Dairy is about more than just pushing fancy milk, however. They hold training classes for cafés and the public (enticing titles include Basic Milk Technique, Advanced Latte Art, and Introduction to Milk Science), and Young is conducting postgraduate research on the relationship between the diet of Jersey cows and the flavor and aromas found in their milk. “We’re pretty excited and curious,” Shaun tells Munchies. “No dairy has ever had the need to look into this, so it’s not been done before in the UK.”
So the next time you’re in a high-end coffee shop (a hint if you’re in one: the barista can say confidently which roaster the coffee beans come from), try getting your usual drink with a different kind of milk. Whole milk versus low fat versus almond milk all have a huge impact on how you taste your espresso.
But hey—if you’re in London, just head to Noble Espresso in Kings Cross Station!