“Four M’s” to Enjoying Espresso Drinks Without Milk

Could your morning cappucino or latte fix possibly be keeping you from giving up dairy products and progressing toward a healthier diet and lifestyle?

For many people, switching to a non-dairy milk in their coffee takes more than a little getting used to. It doesn’t help that the big chain coffee shops charge extra for soymilk, but eliminating dairy milk from your espresso drinks may be just what you need to build momentum for becoming vegan.

On the other hand, if you make your own lattes and cappucinos at home, the prolific vegan cookbook author Bryanna Clark Grogan has spent countless hours testing making capuccino with soy milk and has several pages dedicated to the subject.

Unfortunately, there’s not much more I can say about soymilk that Bryanna already hasn’t revealed, but I wanted to share something I learned about espresso following my experience upgrading from a rinky-dink to a “semi-pro” espresso machine last year.

First, I was rather disappointed that the taste or the espresso wasn’t much improved despite investing in a new machine. It was then I learned the 4Ms of Coffee (well, in Italian, there are Quattro “M”s, namely: Miscela (Coffee blend), Macinatura (Grind), Macchina (Espresso machine), and Mano (Barista’s hand).

I’ve seen these 4Ms listed in various orders, so I’m not certain whether there’s any precedence, but grinding your beans at home makes a remarkable difference in obtaining the freshest espresso, and eliminates waste from improperly ground coffee.

I’ve also come to realize the importance of tamping the espresso properly. The little plastic tamper that comes with espresso machines is useless, and it’s definitely worth spending a little extra on a heavy tamper that’s sized and shaped (flat or convex base) for your espresso machine’s porta filter.

I’ve been using an Espro calibrated tamper. Created for Barista training purposes, the Espro calibrated tamper clicks when the magical 30lbs of pressure are applied–thereby training the barista’s “hand” to produce consistently superior espresso shots.

Recently, I have gone back to using my old machine, and found that by using the Espro, not only are perfect shots repeatable from one to the next, there was no perceptible difference between it and the newer machine. Moral of the story: before splurging on a new “machine”, consider the other 3″M”s.

Also–not to state the obvious–but many people overlook the fact that pure, fresh tasting water is essential to coffee-brewing success.

Now can you see there are many other variables to pay attention to in your espresso than the milk? So don’t let an aversion for soymilk prevent you from giving up dairy. If you simply can’t get used to it, then try other non-dairy milks, or try getting used to drinking your espresso straight.

This post is also available in: Japanese