The Magic of Jersey Milk
Milk has changed so much over the decades, full fat, half fat, skimmed and now milk alternatives such as Almond, Coconut and Soya.
When I was a kid milk was just that, milk! We lived right next to a farm with a dairy herd and one of the most fantastic experiences was drinking milk fresh from the cow as it cooled in the parlour. Obviously it didn’t kill me!
Further transformation of milk has come through homogenisation, which is why you rarely see cream sitting on the top of a fresh litre of milk and blue tits no longer enjoy the pleasure of pecking through the foil tops of milk bottles.
The reality though is that the product I knew as milk as a child is rarely sold on today’s supermarket shelf; that is unless it comes from a Jersey herd. Here in Jersey it is illegal to import fresh milk as the authorities endeavour to keep Jersey farming. As a result we have world class milk and pay a sustainable price, something many UK farmers can only dream of; but I digress.
Of course milk is a key component of some of the most popular coffees sold. Cappuccino, latte and flat white and therefore how it is handled is really important to the quality of the final drink. I’m sure many of you have experienced milk that has been “nuked”, that is so hot that you have to wait 5 minutes before you can drink the beverage. This is a disaster for the coffee as all that lovely sweetness vanishes in the heat of the steam wand. The coffee doesn’t stand a chance.
The key component parts of milk are protein, fat and sugar. The challenge for the Barista is to handle these ingredients in such a way as to maximise their enjoyment. Jersey milk is bursting with these key ingredients and as a result when handled properly really enhances the coffee. So what do I mean by handling the milk properly? The following is a quick guide:
- Start with fresh cold milk and a clean steam wand. Always vent or purge the steam wand prior to use.
- Place the steam wand in the milk so that when being heated the milk makes a circular movement much like water does when emptying from a bath.
- The type of drink you are making will determine the depth of the steam wand in the milk. The more foam, the nearer the top of the milk. The trick is to keep the gap between the surface of the milk and steam wand as small as possible. This will enable you to create micro-foam and texture which really enhances the final drink experience.
- Constantly monitor the temperature of the milk as it is heated. There are a myriad of thermometers to help you, but I find my hand is the best guide. Bear in mind, your mouth and hand can tolerate the same temperature. If the milk is too hot to touch, then the same will be true in your mouth.
- I like to drink my coffee immediately after it has been prepared which means I get the full enjoyment of the taste of well-prepared milk and properly extracted coffee.
In Jersey milk we are blessed with an extraordinary product; it’s criminal not to handle it with the respect it deserves.