coffee with milk and where did it starts

Coffee with milk – how did it all get started?

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What is a coffee with milk called – a short history of coffee with milk

Coffee with milk is called a great coffee. OK, it has a ton of different names, and we are here to count them all. However, when people use this expression, they usually mean cafe latte.

But let’s start with the basics. Johan Nieuhoff was the first person in history to add milk to coffee. At least, that’s what the Coffee: A Connoisseur’s Companion book claims. Johan was a Dutch ambassador to China and a great visionary. Neuhoff tried to copy what the Chinese elite did with tea. As he wasn’t a fan of tea, he started adding milk to coffee in cca 1660. 

However, not until 1903 coffee with milk started its renaissance. It was the year when Desiderio Pavoni, an Italian inventor, added the steam wand to the espresso machine. And then, the people started making all sorts of combinations of coffee and milk.

Hot coffee milk sugar and a Cup

How does milk make coffee better?

Milk has three main components that make coffee better. Those are sugar, fat, and proteins.


Lactose or milk sugar is the reason why some people can’t drink milk. People with lactose intolerance can not digest dairy products and end up bloated in the best case and diarrhea in the worst. 

But those who can drink milk notice that warm milk has a naturally sweet taste, while milk that’s too hot tastes scorched. When you heat the milk properly, lactose dissolves into compounds that taste sweet. This process happens just below 140 F.


Fat, or milk fat, is what gives the milk its texture and thickness. The more fat the milk has, the richer the flavor and texture of the coffee. Or any food, for that matter. Just ask the French chefs, that add butter to almost any meal. Special barista milk types have increased fat content. 


Proteins in milk are responsible for bonding. Fun fact: proteins are the main factor for that tasty cappuccino foam, not fats. Heating the proteins in milk helps to aerate milk and achieving that smooth microfoam texture.

What does putting milk in coffee do?

Well, it makes your barista hate you if you just added milk in a cup of black coffee without tasting it. Coffee growing, roasting, and making is a form of art. And seeing someone just ruining the perfect cup of joe by adding milk inside hurts physically. 

Besides that, putting milk in coffee gave us the most wonderful and tasteful coffee drinks. Of course, when you know the right ratios and when you steam your milk the right way.

Putting milk in coffee can also apparently cause some arson threats. But more on that further in the article. Let’s just say that 2008 was a weird year.


Machiatto is one shot of espresso with a splash of milk foam. Macchiato means marked in Italian. The name itself originates from baristas need to show the difference between espresso and espresso with milk. The marked or stained espresso is therefore called macchiato. The milk splash softens the strong espresso taste. 



The milkiest sweet drink. One shot of espresso, a lot of warm (or even cold) milk, and a thin layer of foam. There are no limitations on how big a latte can be. But, it’s usually not smaller than 8 ounces. If you order a latte in Europe, you will get a glass of milk. Order a caffe latte, and you will get the milky coffee that you wanted in the first place. Lattes are the most popular drink in the American coffeehouses. 


One part of espresso, one part of warm milk, one part of the foam. Perhaps the most famous Italian drink and a test to barista skills. Cappucino got its name from the bald heads of Capuchin monks. 

Italians drink their cappuccinos only in the morning. They drink all the coffee drinks with milk added only in the morning. After 11, it’s espresso time. 

Flat white

Coming from Down Under, a flat white is an all-time-favorite drink in Australia. Essentially, it’s a double shot of espresso with three to four ounces of milk, topped with a thin foam layer. This drink was made as a compromise, back in the 80s. You see, in those masculine times in Australia, people drank white or black coffee. Those drinking black coffee were considered alpha males, while white coffee drinkers were…let’s say not that popular. Weird times, we know. The flat white was made as a compromise for those who wanted a stronger coffee than white coffee, but not too strong.


This lovely short beverage comes from the Spanish word cortar,  which means cut. A cortado is espresso and frothed milk in a 1:1 ratio. The milk cuts the acidity. Cortado is a great choice for anyone having problems with their stomach but still yearning for a strong coffee taste. Cortado is usually served in small cortado glasses.

Cafe au lait

Cafe au lait is an American version of cafe latte. The expression literary means coffee with milk, but in French. And, contrary to cafe latte, cafe au lait is made using brewed coffee, not espresso. The most common choice is French press coffee. The usual ratio of milk and coffee is 1:1. Most European countries have their versions of cafe au lait, from Polish “kawa biała” to Austrian “Melange”.


Breve is a cappuccino, but instead of milk, you use half-and-half. The American version, of course. Breve is also known as cafe breve, latte breve, and breve coffee. Literary means little, short or concise in Italian. 

Glass mason jar with ice coffee with whipped cream, ice cream and chocolate sauce, served with coffee beans, coffe pot and jug of milk over light blue textured background. Square image

Iced drinks and coffee cocktails

Coffee and cold milk are a superb combination for summer refreshment. Pick your favorite coffee, add some ice cubes and your favorite milk, and you got yourself an iced coffee. Furthermore, you can experiment by adding coffee syrups, liqueurs, or even stronger drinks. Just don’t over-enjoy your coffee cocktails.

What coffee goes great with milk? 

Not every coffee goes well with milk. For a coffee to be paired with milk perfectly, we have few conditions. Coffee must be:

  • Medium to dark roast
  • A low acidity coffee is a must
  • Espresso or blend type of beans
  • Earthy, roasty, or choccy flavor profile 
  • Tasting notes of caramel, spices, nuts, and sweets

Espresso blends are the best choice to pair with some milk. After all, all the greatest drinks with milk have a base of espresso. Not cold brew, not Aeropress. Espresso.

Can you brew coffee with milk instead of water?

That’s not a very good idea. We have two strong scientific reasons against that. 

First, for an excellent bean extraction, water needs to be around 200 F (195 – 205 F). Milk will curdle when it reaches 180 F. Now, your choices are to under extract the coffee due to low temperature or make coffee with curdled milk, which will taste as horrible as it sounds.

Second, milk is fat and water, more or less. The fat in the milk extracts the coffee oils quickly.  You will be left with an uneven extraction. Some parts of the coffee will be way over-extracted, while others will be bland.

If you want to experiment, you can always try making a cold brew using milk instead of coffee. We weren’t that brave, but those who have described the taste. Their words: same as chocolate milk, but with the flavor of coffee instead of chocolate.   

Disclaimer – never, ever try to use milk instead of water in your coffee makers. Whether is it a Moka pot or a stylish espresso machine, never mind. You will end up with a smell of burned milk, and you will have to trash your coffee making machine. While throwing a percolator will harm your budget for cca $20 – $30, a price of a good, fully automated espresso machine is pricier. 

What is coffee milk?

This is not a typo. Coffee milk is milk with an addition of coffee syrup. Coffee syrup is concentrated and sweetened coffee, with a texture that resembles chocolate syrup. The people of Rhode Island declared coffee milk their official beverage in 1993. If you want to sound like a true Rhode Islander, you will pronounce coffee milk as one word. Everybody on Rhode Island drinks coffee milk, from toddlers to old people. And if you are a beer fan, you must try Autocraft Coffee Milk Stout – a coffee-flavored stout beer. Some things happen only in Rhode Island.

Is it healthy to put milk in coffee?

Weight loss

If you want to lose some belly fat, avoid coffee with milk. A plain cup of black coffee has next to zero calories. However, when you add some milk inside, you are making a calorie bomb out of your cup of joe. 

Staying awake

If you want to stay awake, avoid adding milk to your coffee. Those extra calories will just make you sleepy. But, it works both ways. If your evening cup of joe disrupts your sleep patterns, add some milk to it. If you still can’t sleep, we suggest you cut your coffee intake in the evening.

Stomach acidity

A surprisingly high number of people suffer from stomach acidity problems. This is especially problematic with black coffee lovers. Or those people (we are included) who like to drink coffee on an empty stomach. Well, if you would like to avoid Irritable Bowel Syndrome, add a splash of milk to your coffee. Milk will calm your stomach and prevent further bowel movement. 

Burning coffee

When you are sleepy in the morning, it’s not uncommon to burn your tongue on a hot sip of coffee. Well, too hot coffee can damage your esophagus tissue and even cause esophageal cancer. By drinking coffee with a bit of cold milk, you will remove that risk from your mouth. 

What is the best milk for coffee?

It all depends on your preferences. If you like dairy milk, we assume you will choose cow’s milk. Although, people also drink milk from sheep, goats, and water buffalos. With non-dairy milk, your choices are wide. Some of the most popular non-dairy kinds of milk are soy, almond, and cashew milk. Although, it’s not uncommon to find hemp, rice, or coconut milk. There is no best milk for you, just as there is no best coffee. It’s all a matter of your preferences.

Less known coffee-and-milk drinks

We love our morning latte or our weekend cortado, but is that all? Sometimes you think you tried all of the possible combinations that include coffee and milk. But is that the case? Here are some of the less known milky coffee drinks:

  • Eiskaffe – iced coffee from Germany. Includes coffee, milk, sugar, vanilla ice cream, and fresh whipped cream topped with a pinch of cocoa.
  • Cafe Miel – Espresso, steamed milk, and a rich dash of honey. Cafe Miel is usually served in France and Spain. 
  • Galao – Portuguese version of cafe latte, but milkier. Three parts of steamed milk go to one part of coffee, served in a large glass.
  • Coffee in a can – wonder why do we mention it? Well, China, Japan, and Taiwan went nuts for canned coffee as a quick refreshment. Their canned coffees are almost unbearable sweet and thus a real energy bomb.
  • Marocchino – cappuccino that tastes like chocolate. It is a combination of espresso, milk foam, and cocoa. 

Of course, we could go on and on, as every part of this world has its ways of preparing coffee. But that’s the subject of some other article. 

The funniest story including coffee and milk

We all want to beat the system, right? Especially if that system is a large coffeehouse chain that sometimes overprices its beverages a lot. So, our story took place in 2008. Have you ever heard of ‘ghetto latte’? It is a simple way to cut your latte expenses by half in coffee house chains. This lovely but not too polite expression means you will order a double or triple espresso poured over ice. Great. Then, you will use the free milk and creamers and add them to your cup. Voila, you just bought a latte for half of the price. You are happy, but the coffee shop owner is not.

Well, one blogger did it, one coffee owner didn’t like it. It all ended with mentioning matches and kerosine, threatening to kick someone in the genitals, and went way, way overexposed. Anyway, here’s a handy link. Moral of the story? Anyone can have a bad day, but don’t ever stand between a man and his coffee. 

Does milk keep coffee warm longer?

Science doesn’t have to be scary all the time. Here is a great example. Logically, a room temperature milk or creamer should lower the temperature of your coffee. But that’s not the case. Stick with us now. When you add milk to your coffee, it will cool down up to 20% slower than the regular cup of black coffee. Don’t trust us? Look for three main reasons:

Proof 1 – Black coffee is black

Black colored objects don’t just absorb heat faster. They also emit heat much faster. Thus, your black coffee will lose heat faster than coffee with the addition of milk.

Proof 2 – It’s the law

And not just any law, but Stefan-Boltzmann’s law. This rule says that hot surfaces lose heat faster. So, coffee without milk will eventually get colder than coffee with milk.

Proof three – It’s the fat

Adding milk makes your coffee thicker. And if you add whole fat milk, the effect will be stronger. Evaporation takes a lot of heat from your cup of coffee, but when you add some milk, the evaporation slows. Thus, your cuppa will not cool that quickly.

You wouldn’t believe how people got crazy when they discovered this perk. But, it’s true, and it doesn’t even depend on the milk temperature, at least not too much. It’s the texture of milk that makes this perk possible.

Do you need an espresso machine to make coffee with milk?

As some wise men from the internet would say, you don’t need sneakers for running, but they do help. The base of most of the coffees that include milk is espresso. So yes, having an espresso machine would come in handy. Of course, there are alternative ways to make espresso, including Aeropress, French press, or percolator. But they just don’t taste like true espresso. The second reason why everyone should have their espresso machine is the steam wand. This great invention allows us to transform our kitchen into an Italian cafe. Making cappuccinos, cortados, and lattes is unthinkable without a proper espresso machine with a steam wand. And it doesn’t have to cost too much. You can find a good machine for more than an honest price. 

Coffee with milk FAQ

Can coffee increase breast size?

Oh, if it only were that easy. No, my friend, you can stop pouring gallons of coffee and looking yourself in the mirror. No food or drink will increase your breast size. Including coffee, papaya, or peanut butter, as the most often claimed wonder food for your breasts. Your genes, weight, workout, and age are the main factor that determines breast size. However, a moderate amount of caffeine will make your breasts (a bit) firmer. Nothing drastically, tho. 

How many calories is a coffee with milk?

As we all well know, one cup of coffee has anywhere from zero to five calories. Now, milk is something different. Let’s take a look at the usual types of milk and their calorie count. Of course, using the 8-ounce serving size.

  • Cow’s milk – 129 calories
  • Oat milk – 120 calories
  • Soy milk – 105 calories
  • Hemp milk – 60 calories
  • Coconut milk – 46 calories
  • Almond milk – 41 calories

Of course, the calorie count can vary a lot. Different producers use various ingredients that can significantly increase or decrease the calorie count. When buying commercial milk, always check the ingredients list. Our advice for nut milk lovers is to make your milk. That way, you will be sure your choice is pro-health and with a low-calorie count.

Does adding coffee to milk reduce calcium?

Well, yes, but actually no. You see, the recommended daily intake of calcium is 1000 mg. That can be from milk, cheese, or any dairy product. Let’s say you drink drip coffee. One cup of drip coffee will reduce your calcium absorption by 2 to 4 mg. One cup of milk has roughly 300 mg of calcium. You would have to drink 100 cups of coffee to fully neutralize the absorption of one cup of milk. 

Which coffee drink has the least milk?

Now, we can say it’s black coffee, but that would qualify us as dad humor page, and we would deserve any ‘OK, boomer’ we get. The correct answer to the question is macchiato. Macchiato is a coffee drink with just a tiny splash of steamed milk. Don’t judge us, Millenials.

What is Caffe Misto?

Caffe Misto is just one of the terms used in Starbucks. The possible motive is to add a bit more confusion in the world of coffee. When you come out of the Starbuck coffee shop, you will realize that Caffe Misto is just cafe au lait. Of course, in Starbucks, you can add syrups, whipped cream, and sprinkles to your Caffe Misto and make it even tastier. But not healthier. 

What is skinny coffee?

Skinny coffee means it’s made with non-fat or low-fat milk. So, any coffee with milk can be named skinny. 


Coffee and milk go exceptionally well for centuries, ever since Johan Nieuhof poured the first drops of milk into his cup of joe. After that, the invention of espresso machines has brought a true renaissance into the coffee universe. And now, we are at the peak of the popularity of non-dairy milk. Truly a great time we live in. There has never been a larger choice of option for you to drink your coffee. We have come a long way from boiling whole green beans and calling it coffee. And, the story doesn’t end here. Who can tell what the future of the coffee-making will bring?

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