Coffee Facts

Does Almond Milk Curdle? A Dairy-Free Coffee Lovers Dilemma

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For all you coffee drinkers out there, you may have noticed that something funky happens when putting cold almond milk in coffee. And that may have led you to ask the question on all of our minds: does almond milk curdle? 

The answer is yes. Almond milk does curdle. 

A pesky trait of almond milk is that, yes, it does curdle. This is primarily due to the acidity and high heat of hot coffee. This can be chiefly frustrating for coffee drinkers looking for non-dairy milk or creamer for their lattes due to personal preference, lactose intolerance, or lifestyle reasons.

If you want to learn more about why almond milk curdles and what to do about it, read on! 

Why Does Almond Milk Curdle? 

Essentially almond milk curdles because the proteins in the milk separate more easily than those in dairy milk. This is because the protein in almond milk (and most dairy alternative plant-based milk) separates faster with heat than full-cream dairy milk does. 

As mentioned, almond milk curdles because of two main factors: high heat and high acidity, both characteristics of fresh black coffee. 

When almond milk combines with the high heat in a cup of coffee, the difference in temperature causes its atoms to bounce around faster and harder, a chemical reaction occurs, the protein structure falls apart, and the milk takes on a different shape and appearance than usual. 

On the other hand, dairy milk has a much more stable protein structure than even the best quality almond milk, so the structure doesn’t break down as fast in high heat. 

Acidity is the other big reason why almond nut milk curdles. And since coffee is high in acidity, it almost always breaks down and curdles almond milk when it comes into contact with coffee’s high acidity. 

That also means that the type of roast you use will impact how much your almond milk curdles, if at all. For example, darker roasts typically contain less acid than lighter roasts. 

Can You Drink Curdled Almond Milk? 

Drinking Almond Curdled Milk

While curdled almond milk may look a bit strange and off-putting, it’s still fine to drink. In this instance, the curdling of the milk is harmless; it’s only a problem when the milk itself is close to producing bacteria. When dairy milk begins to break down, it releases bacteria that start producing extra acid, and as it gets closer to that point, its structure dissolves more easily. 

Almond milk, on the other hand, has a different protein structure, so when almond breaks down, it’s not because it’s going bad, but because the structure of the protein is weaker. 

How To Avoid Almond Milk Curdling 

While curdled milk is not directly harmful, it still looks very off-putting. As a result, most coffee drinkers want to find ways to prevent or lessen the amount of curdles in their almond milk coffee. 

There are steps you can take to ensure that your almond milk won’t curdle. 

  1. Balance the temperatures: By heating the almond milk before putting it in the coffee and letting your coffee cool, the temperature difference will be a lot less extreme when you mix the two. This means that the shock will be less, which means less separation between the heated almond milk and coffee. 
  2. Mix Almond Milk in Gradually: By mixing in the almond milk gradually, you’re again easing the transition. As a result, coffee will break down the almond milk slower. 
  3. Less Acidity: As you might imagine, a big step you can take is to use less acidic coffee. That means saying goodbye to your light roast coffee as it’s so high in acidity. 
  4. Buy brands that curdle less: Some brands of almond milk curdle less. This is because they’re designed specifically for being mixed within coffee. You may try purchasing a brand designed for coffee, like barista-grade almond milk, to prevent the curdling of your almond milk. 

Brands of Almond Milk That Curdle Less 

As mentioned, some dairy-free milks are designed to curdle less. As a result, many coffee shops use these brands of almond milk for their lattes, espresso drinks, or to use as a regular creamer. 

If you want to skip the coffee shop but still want your almond milk not to curdle, there are a few brands of almond milk you can buy.

  • Milk Lab Almond Milk
  • Pure Harvest Organic Milk
  • Silk Non-Dairy Almond Milk
  • Blue Diamond Almond milk

They are great almond milk brands crafted to reduce the amount of curdling that occurs in your almond milk. Go for the unsweetened almond milk to avoid putting yet more sugar in your almond milk latte.

Final Thoughts 

Almond milk is a terrific milk alternative that has gained popularity with the new wave of nondairy eating trends from the last ten years. However, almond milk does have its downsides: the biggest downside is that it curdles so much in coffee. 

As a result, it’s essential to balance the temperatures of the almond milk and the coffee together to prevent curdling slowly. So get out the pan, heat your non-dairy milk products, and kiss that cow milk goodbye! If that’s too hard, coffee shops have professionals that can handle that for you… for a price!

Happy Caffeinating!

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