Almond milk is one of the most popular non-dairy milk alternatives but unfortunately, it can curdle.
Imagine my surprise when it happened to me - I didn't even know that could happen to non-dairy milk.
In this guide I'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?
Almond milk curdles because its protein bonds are easier to separate than the ones in dairy milk, particularly when faced with large temperature jumps or high-acidity additives.
Coincidentally, freshly brewed coffee is often hot and somewhat acidic - not a coincidence.
Luckily, there are ways that you can prevent it and avoid a ruined morning brew.
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.
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.
Try These Almond Milk Brands:
- Blue Diamond
- SO Delicious
It's worth buying one of these barista grade almond milk options which coffee shops use as a coffee creamer/ milk alternative.
How To Prevent Almond Milk From Curdling In Your Coffee?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is It Safe To Drink Coffee With Curdled Almond Milk?
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.
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.
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.