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Soy milk, almonds and the like in a fully automatic coffee machine: can you froth milk substitutes?

You keep asking me if you can feed your coffee machine with something other than cow's milk. The question arises as to which milk alternative is suitable at all froth and whether you have to pay attention to anything when almonds, soy, oats or nuts are poured into the milk foam system as a plant drink.

Of course, there is also the subliminal question of whether the alternatives are perhaps even better suited for foaming than the udder variant and what influence the respective plant has on the taste of coffee.

You already notice: So many questions call for advice. However, I am of the opinion that when it comes to milk substitutes in fully automatic coffee machines, we usually make things a little too complicated for ourselves.

With a few exceptions, most plant alternatives foam quite convincingly. There is just as little trick with frothing oat milk as with almonds or rice. The fully automatic machine doesn't care what you put in the milk container.

This guide is not only about plant-based milk foam from the fully automatic coffee machine (or any other foaming system), but also about a few ecological things that you should know about the plant drink hype.

Personally, I think milk foam is great, but I prefer to drink my coffee black. Currently, my own coffee usually ends up in the cup. I developed it especially for the fully automatic machine so that it unfolds its full aroma in the machines.

The dark bean roast with a note of chocolate and almonds harmonized well with the milk alternatives. No better than the cow variant, but tasty. In addition, both ingredients have the same spirit: drinking coffee ecologically. The coffeeness coffee is fairly traded, comes directly from the Brazilian farmer and observes a fair value chain.

Coffee developed for the fully automatic machine

Coffeeness coffee is finally available.

For latte macchiato

Espresso, black coffee


Freshly roasted

To the coffee shop

Black without anything or not. I work intensively with different types of milk - I even make them myself. You can also find a recipe here.

My thesis that all popular milk versions can be frothed in fully automatic coffee machines, I "prove" in my video:

And yes, I know: Everything that does not come from the cow is officially not allowed to be called milk. But everyone says it anyway. Me too.

Brief milk knowledge: what makes milk foam?

Three things ensure milk foam - whether from a fully automatic coffee machine or an espresso machine: fat, protein and water vapor.

The water vapor shoots up the molecular structure of the protein and fat molecules and reassembles them with the help of air. The better the ratio of the three components, the creamier, more consistent and fluffy the milk foam will be.

Proteins are most important for the foaming behavior. The more there are, the better. Fat is mainly responsible for the mouthfeel and creaminess.

However, skimmed milk is more difficult to froth than full-fat 3.8 percent milk. Because in the lean version the ratio is “disturbed” and the water content is very high.

In the article “Black Coffee - A Story of Pearls and Sows?” I gave a detailed breakdown of what cow's milk is made of. It has an average protein content of 3.5 percent - which is obviously ideal for milk foam and therefore our "benchmark" for plant-based alternatives.

First of all: only one of the usual varieties (soy!) Has this content. This is why manufacturers need a few auxiliary substances and there are even more pronounced differences in the foaming behavior when you prepare the vegetable milk from almonds or oats yourself.

That means: an oat milk from the Tetra Pak foams better than a homemade variant. We'll see why in a moment.

Milk substitutes in fully automatic coffee machines: is there anything to consider?

First of all, it doesn't matter which fully automatic coffee machine you choose for your milk froth made from plants. There are devices that do this better than others. And the differences are often clear. In the general duel between animals and plants, the origin of the milk does not change anything on the device.

For my "test" in the video I used the cute Jura Z8 - because it not only does milk foam, but is also one of the frontrunners when it comes to coffee taste.

The Jura has a cappucinatore, a hose that you can hang in any milk container. This is a point of convenience that integrated milk foam systems do not have.

However, both variants work with very thin hoses and fine nozzles that lift the steam under the milk. Here lies the crux of the matter when using plant-based drinks:

If these contain any solids or suspended matter, they clog the foaming channels after a short time - if you are unlucky, even permanently.

Therefore have to you all homemade milk alternatives always filter them thoroughly before pouring them into the machine.

In the case of fully automatic coffee machines with a steam nozzle, this is not a problem. However, the suspended matter here creates a very unstable foam. The fine "air network" is torpedoed again and again by grain crumbs, etc.

Which milk substitute provides the most stable milk foam in a fully automatic machine?

In my video, I didn't even show soy milk in the first place. Because the result was clear from the start. Soy milk foams like crazy and creates a very stable foam. With a protein content that is almost identical to cow's milk, that's no wonder.

Milk foam made from soy milk, however, is often somewhat coarse-pored and practically always has a clear taste of its own. In addition, soy is a not entirely unproblematic crop.

People with hay fever or neurodermatitis know soy as a trigger for cross-allergies. In addition, the medical question arises again and again as to whether and how soy affects the hormone balance.

But that doesn't change the fact that soy milk is in the fully automatic machine always works and is high on the list as a milk substitute.

Milk foam made from oat milk and the hype about Oatly Barista: what's up?

To be honest, I can Oatly barista slowly no longer hear. In every supermarket, at every coffee fair and on every house wall, the plant-based milk substitute with barista promises will be knocked on your ears.

I love the message behind it ("Milk, but made for humans ") and I also think that oats deserve their place in the limelight as an inexpensive crop with a comparatively small ecological footprint.

I have nothing against Oatly and the Barista edition either. This solves a fundamental problem of oat milk for milk froth: the molecules are not exactly stable and disintegrate very quickly after frothing. You can see that in the video.

The reason is simple: oat milk has a protein content of around 1 percent - too little for stable cow-like foam.

But there are plenty of carbohydrates (around 6.5 percent) and thus a comparatively high calorie content. For comparison: Unsweetened and unroasted almond milk has no significant carbohydrate content and comes to around 22 kilocalories per 100 milliliters. With oat milk it is around 40 kilocalories.

Oatly Barista, however, has 59 kilocalories - with an otherwise typical carbohydrate content and unchanged protein content. How does that fit together - and why does this milk alternative foam so well?

Enter the additives!

In order for Oatly Barista to “work”, each pack comes with various regulators and stabilizers. Rapeseed oil is also available (hello, calories!), Vitamins are also added. Again for comparison: The in-house "naked" oat milk only contains water, oats and sea salt.

You can safely imagine the conclusion: Why should I buy a product that compensates for the natural disadvantages of the milk substitute? Why should I pay 20 cents more per pack (compared to the other oat offerings at Oatly)?

The acceptable arguments: The raw material (oats) is ecologically very justifiable and the result is really excellent.

Apart from that, I don't like the stark taste of oat milk, with or without the barista edition. The oat note shifts and kills the flowery and fresh accents, while it brings darker tones even more to the fore. In my experience, oat milk makes a lot of good coffee beans somehow "scratchy" and "tough".

The trick in frothing oat milk (and the success of Oatly Barista) is not in the machine, but always in the composition of the liquid.

Almond milk as a milk substitute: the best plant alternative for coffee fans?

Milk foam made from almonds is both stable and creamy and works out the coffee taste with a clear impact.

Acid-emphasized coffee roasts in particular benefit from milk foam made from almond milk, making them even fresher, sweeter and even finer. No wonder almond milk is my favorite.

According to the current status, almonds also do not cause any physical problems, and the unsweetened milk options are also extremely low in calories at just around 22 kilocalories.

However, most of the almond varieties in the Tetra Pak owe their stability when foaming to stabilizers. Here the manufacturers differ considerably in some cases.

The Alpro almond drink has a long list of ingredients, the organic almond drink natural from Rewe needs a single stabilizer. Provamel does without the stabilizer, but instead puts some agave syrup in the mixture.

That's why you have to test a few brands of almond milk for milk foam until you have found a good mixture. I think the Rewe organic version works well.

I know from experience that almond milk is best frothed in a fully automatic coffee machine using the automatic hose system. With the steam nozzle you need more patience or the liquid is often too hot before the entire amount has foamed through.

I suspect that this is largely due to the fact that the almond milk is chased completely through the nozzles in automatic systems and thus foamed "from all sides", while even the smallest misalignment of the hand or the nozzle position takes revenge on the steam nozzle.

However, the question is whether we should really deal more intensively with such technical details and push almond milk in this way. The hype surrounding the almond shows us a huge problem:

Almost all of the almonds that we foam or slice into food come from California. There they are grown in water-intensive monocultures. In addition, bees are required for pollination, which the farmers use in a very perfidious and industrial way.

It's not pretty and there is nothing to gloss over: almond milk is an organic mess. What you do with the knowledge is up to you.

Rice milk, spelled milk, coconut milk: what can the rest of the machine do?

New alternatives to milk find their way onto supermarket shelves almost every day. In addition to the classics coconut drink and rice milk, cashew milk and pea milk often catch my eye. I also tried hazelnut milk a while ago.

All of these variants have at least one of two problems: they are unsuitable for foaming and / or have a stark taste of their own. For example, there wasn't much left of my coffee when I worked with hazelnut milk. Coconut always tastes like coconut, including coconut milk (low in calories). Both are nommy, but not a suitable companion to coffee. Unless you don't like the taste of coffee.

Rice drinks are least suitable for use in the fully automatic machine or the steam nozzle. Any variant always contains significantly less than one percent protein, but a very large proportion of carbohydrates and not enough fat.

Even with stabilizers there would hardly be anything to be gained here, rice milk is simply too far removed from the composition of the udder product.

Spelled drinks have a similar problem, even if they foam a little better. The foam disintegrates quickly, however, and the grain product always gives your coffee an unpleasant bread note, I think.

I will soon take a closer look at pea milk and lupine milk as regional milk substitutes. Not just because it sounds adventurous. But mainly because the peas have a lot of protein and the composition of nutrients is very close to the cow variant.

What does it bring? I will report!

How to make vegan milk yourself for the fully automatic coffee machine: How to make milk froth with DIY?

Depending on the main ingredient, brand and marketing, you might have to put a lot of money on the table for plant-based milk alternatives. So it makes sense to make them yourself. The easiest of all DIY recipes goes like this:

Put almonds or oats in the blender, add a little water, mix, done.

What so easy? Why are we still buying Tetra Paks?

It's not that simple - at least if you want something from your fully automatic coffee machine for a longer period of time and you want decent milk foam.

Because the brute mixer method ensures that your finished plant milk is full of solid particles. As already mentioned, this not only disturbs the structural changes for the milk foam, it also clogs the nozzles and hoses of your machine. So after milk comes broken.

In addition, we have now learned that every plant variant always needs some auxiliary substance so that we can speak of foamable liquid. However, you do not need to reach into the chemistry kit. A dash of oil does it too.

Because nothing is heated or industrially combined here, you shouldn't keep the homemade plant milk for more than three days - and the foaming behavior will always be worse than with the Tetra variant.

Still, DIY foam is a fine idea. If you like it correct want to make, you should proceed as follows and even use a juicer in addition to the blender:

  1. Put around 50 to 80 grams of oat flakes, spelled or almonds in a liter of cold water in the mixer. You have to figure out the mixing ratio a bit.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and a little vegetable oil. Safflower oil is a great emulsifier!
  3. Mix for one minute (depending on the mixer performance) at full speed.
  4. Pour the brew into the juicer, it will make filtering a lot easier!

If you don't have the equipment at hand, you can soak the grains and kernels in water for at least 24 hours. Then you could, for example, "wring out" oatmeal or pass through a sieve to separate the solid (halfway) from the liquid.

There are special “milk makers” for this, which consist of a container, a sieve insert and a suitable mortar. I've tried this for a while and wasn't enthusiastic. However, I did not add any oil and did not bother to filter the finished liquid again.

If you proceed more carefully and live with the fact that the milk foam in the fully automatic machine is not as pleasant as with the Tetra original, you can definitely save money. At least with oatmeal. They are incredibly cheap. With almonds you end up being more expensive. See California Love.

What's up with the cow?

If we utter a few uncomfortable truths in our little excursion into the world of milk alternatives for the fully automatic machine, we can also let the word sink into the cow:

In order for a cow to give milk, it has to calve. In order for a cow to keep producing milk, it has to calve all the time. The calf is taken away from her so that she can do this as quickly as possible and produce a lot of milk in the process.

Anyone who has ever been to a conventional dairy farm is forever cured of added coffee from the udder. Isso.

The same basic principle applies in organic farms, but here the calves usually stay with their mother, the whole thing is less industrial and a little more natural.

But you can forget that farmer Müller crouches on his milking stool every morning and Bertha gently and with friendly words massages part of her milk from the udder for your coffee! But I would like to be taught otherwise.

In addition, the fact is and remains that almost all herbal alternatives are far superior to cow's milk in almost all resource factors. And it is also true that oat milk (apart from CO2 emissions) outperforms all other types of milk. This has already been graphically prepared, for example, by the Albert Schweitzer Foundation.

I know that milk foam made from cow's milk is a blast. I also know that with this guide I will shoot myself in the leg. After all, I buy cow's milk myself and use it uninhibited in the fully automatic coffee machine test.

Believe me, I am aware of the dilemma. At least I make sure that I buy pasture milk from halfway happy cows. Even with the plant alternatives, even if I make them myself, organic is sacred to me.

If we leave out the whole curtain sermon, however, then the verdict for this guide is: Plant milk in fully automatic coffee machines works perfectly.As long as you pay attention to the right main ingredient and accept a few compromises or peculiarities in taste or consistency.

I am very happy if you tell me in the comments your own experiences with different milk alternatives or have tips for even better plant foam!