June 13, 2010
For any coffee drink, there are at least 2, but quite often 3 important ingredients. The first, is the coffee. We roast our coffee in the shop, using only the finest 100% arabica beans, from countries like Kenya, Brazil, and El Salvador. The second ingredient is water. Our water is filtered to remove all of the chlorine and other poor tasting components which are provided by the wonderful city of Scottsdale water supply. The third ingredient, in one form or another, is milk.
For a latte or cappuccino, milk will be the #1 ingredient by volume, and as we serve a great number of lattes and cappuccinos, using great milk is paramount to having a great drink. I taste tested and steam tasted nearly every milk commercially available in the Phoenix area, seeking a milk that responded well under steam and also tasted great. In my tests, organic milks behaved significantly better under steam. They stretched easier, and were easier to produce quality micro foam. Quality micro foam is important, when latte art is desired, which we always desire. I don’t know why organic milks steam better, but I can only surmise that organic milks have higher protein content, because it is the protein that makes micro foam possible.
Another result of great micro foam, is that the milk will taste sweeter than poorly steamed milk, or just heated milk. Here again, the protein is important, as some of the protein will break apart into sugar, which provides a sweeter tasting milk.
Of the commercially available organic milks, my favorite milk is from Lucerne, and is branded as O Organics. This brand is available at Safeway, and is commonly referred to as their house brand, although O Organics items are available at other stores. Because our refrigeration space is somewhat limited, I shop nearly every day at Safeway, picking up approximately 10 gallons of milk, along with organic bananas and apples.
By default, a latte will be made with 2% milk, while a cappuccino or macchiato will be made with whole milk. However, we know that won’t work for everyone, so we also offer skim milk, soy milk, almond milk, and rice milk. Aside from the almond milk, all of our milks are certified organic. The almond milk was selected because it is soy and lactose free. Any of these milks can be used for any drink, and upon request, we’ll be happy to provide a creamer with them for drip coffee as well.
Speaking of drip coffee, we provide O Organics organic half and half at the creamer bar in a thermos. People are often surprised when we tell them that even the half and half is organic (I suspect they are surprised because they know how expensive organic half and half is). We don’t sell you short at Echo Coffee and when we say it’s organic, we mean it’s organic.