Almond milk is one of the most popular non-dairy milk alternatives but unfortunately, it can curdle.
Almond plant based milk is low calorie and delicious. It's got a great texture and works well as an alternative to full cream dairy milk. However, you need to handle it carefully to avoid the almond milk curdling.
In this guide we'll explain why almond milk curdles and show you how to prevent almond milk curdling so you can enjoy a great coffee.
Why Does Almond Milk Curdle? (Main Reasons It Splits)
Almond milk is a plant-based beverage made by blending almonds and water and straining the resulting liquid. It's a lot thinner than regular milk because of the water, but many people consider it the healthier, more wholesome option. It's also safe for those with a lactose intolerance.
When adding the cold, non dairy milk to a cup of hot coffee, you’re running the risk of it curdling. Luckily, when the milk splits in hot drinks it’s not unsafe (more on that later), but it’s not the most pleasing thing to drink. To understand how to prevent it, you first need to understand why it happens in the first place.
There are a few reasons why almond nut milk creamer curdles in coffee, including:
If you’re drinking piping hot coffee and use almond nut milk directly from the fridge, the big temperature difference can cause curdling.
This is because the chemical structures of almond milk's proteins break down faster and easier than those in dairy milk, and high heat can cause the protein structure to fall apart and separate, AKA, curdle.
High Acidity Of Your Coffee
Black coffee is quite acidic and ranks at about 5 on the pH scale. To put that in perspective, lemon juice has a pH of 2.
Almond milk isn’t as acidic and has a “curdle point” of ~5.5. When you add almond milk to already acidic coffee, the lower-pH coffee sometimes acts as a coagulant, breaking the milk into larger parts. This extra acid is the main reason plant based milks curdle.
This won't be as much of a problem if you prefer low-acidity beans or you've taken steps to have less acidic coffee. Check out our guide on how to do that.
Using Substandard Almond Milk Products
Using low-quality almond milk (or any non-dairy alternative) can speed up the curdling process. That’s because the protein structures in these products are even weaker than those in quality milk brands.
The best almond milk brands right now for coffee drinkers are Silk, Califia, Blue Diamond, SO Delicious, and MilkLab almond milk. It's worth buying one of these barista grade almond milk options which coffee shops use as a coffee creamer/ milk alternative.
Is It Safe To Drink Coffee With Curdled Almond Milk?
A lot of people wonder, "if you drink curdled almond milk will you get sick?" and that's understandable since curdled dairy milk can definitely upset the digestive system. While it may not be pleasing to drink, consuming coffee with almond milk that's curdled won’t actually hurt you.
The reason you can drink almond milk coffee all comes back to its protein structure. Dairy milk releases bacteria and produces acids as it reaches its curdling point, and these bacteria can lead to stomach cramping, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
When the protein structures of the nut milk break down (which is what makes almond milk curdle), on the other hand, drinking it is completely harmless. That’s because it doesn’t release the same bacteria that is released by curdling dairy milk.
How To Prevent Almond Milk From Curdling In Your Coffee?
There are a few ways for a coffee lover prevent it - here’s what to do:
Focus On Balancing Temperature
One of the main reasons that almond milk curdles is that it usually goes straight from the fridge into a cup of hot coffee. This vast difference in temperature - from cold to hot in a matter of seconds - causes the protein structures of the milk to break down faster, leaving you with curdled milk.
Just keep in mind that cold almond milk will always separate when it is added to a hot solution. The fix? Before adding your own almond milk to your coffee, slowly heat it so that the milk is about the same temperature as your hot coffee. Or, let your coffee cool a bit.
Pay Attention To Coffee Acidity
Acidity is another thing to keep in mind. Coffee isn't as bad as vinegar or lemon juice, but it is more acidic than almond milk, so just like temperature, combining the two can cause the milk to break down, separate, and curdle.
The fix? Just try to choose coffee beans that aren’t as acidic, or take steps to lower the acidity in your coffee before adding almond milk to it. This will limit the chemical reaction.
Use Quality Almond Milk Products
It's important to choose brands that are designed to be mixed with coffee and other hot beverages. There are also almond creamers on the shelves of just about every grocery store, and these are perfect for coffee because they have a much lower chance of curdling.
So remember, not all products are created equal, and that goes for soy milk or coconut milk alternatives too. It's worth finding a good quality brand, especially if you plan on using the beverage in your morning cup of coffee.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Can coffee with curdled almond milk be saved?
It’s very difficult to reverse the curdling process, and there’s not much you can do if your almond milk has separated. You can try reheating your coffee slowly, but the best route to take is to pour a fresh cup and use the tips provided above to prevent your almond milk from curdling.
Why does almond milk curdle in iced coffee?
You’d assume that pouring cold almond milk into cold coffee wouldn’t be a problem, but curdling can still happen. That’s because some iced coffees are highly acidic, and even though the temperatures may be balanced, the acidity breaks down the almond milk, causing it to separate and curdle.
Is it OK to boil almond milk?
It won’t make you sick, but boiling almond milk isn’t a smart move. Remember, almond milk is very different from dairy milk, and bringing your almond milk to a boil will break down the protein structures. Not only can this lead to curdling, but it can change the flavor profile of the almond milk as well.
Does regular milk curdle in coffee?
In some cases, the acidity in your coffee is just high enough to alter the pH of dairy milk. When that happens, the milk can start to curdle slightly. Usually, though, you don’t have to worry about curdled dairy milk in your coffee because it has much stronger protein structures compared to almond milk.
Almond milk is a wonderful alternative to regular milk, and not just for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant. Even for people who aren’t dairy-free, almond milk can add a nutty flavor to coffee that soy milk, coconut milk, and other non dairy milks just can't compete with!
Of course, it comes with its downsides, primarily the fact that that almond milk curdles so easily in coffee. To stop the milk from curdling (or at least slow it down), try to focus on balancing the temperatures and acidity levels of your almond milk and coffee before combining them.