Could your morning cappuccino or latte fix possibly be preventing you from giving up dairy products and progressing toward a healthier diet and lifestyle?

For many people, switching to a non-dairy milk in their coffee takes more than a little getting used to. It doesn’t help that the big chain coffee shops charge extra for soy milk, but eliminating dairy milk from your espresso drinks may be just what you need to build momentum for becoming vegan.

On the other hand, if you make your own lattes and cappuccino at home, you may have been discouraged to find that soy milk often curdles when mixed with coffee. The prolific vegan cookbook author Bryanna Clark Grogan has spent countless hours experimenting with soy milk cappuccino. According to Bryanna, the trick to preventing soy milk curdling is to use dark roast coffee because it’s actually less acidic compared to light roast. In addition, making sure the soy milk is heated helps prevent curdling, too.

Unfortunately, there’s not much more I can say about soy milk cappuccino that Bryanna already hasn’t revealed, but I wanted to share something I learned about brewing espresso following my experience upgrading from a rinky-dink to “semi-pro” espresso machine last year.

First, I was rather disappointed that the taste or the espresso wasn’t much improved despite investing in a new machine. It was then I learned about the “4Ms of Coffee” (well, in Italian, there are Quattro “M”s, namely: Miscela (Coffee blend), Macinatura (Grind), Macchina (Espresso machine), and Mano (Barista’s hand).

I’ve seen these 4Ms listed in various orders, so I’m not certain whether there’s any precedence, but grinding your beans at home makes a remarkable difference in obtaining the freshest espresso, and eliminates waste from improperly ground coffee. For this reason, experts recommend you invest in an espresso grinder that costs at least half as much as your espresso machine.

I’ve also come to realize the criticality of proper tamping in making outstanding espresso. The plastic tamper that comes with espresso machines–even high end ones–is useless, and it’s definitely worth spending a extra on a heavy tamper that’s sized and shaped (i.e. flat or convex base) for your espresso machine’s porta filter. Recently, I’ve begun using an Espro calibrated tamper. Created for Barista training purposes, the Espro tamper clicks when the magical 30lbs of pressure are applied–thereby training the barista’s “hand” to produce consistently superior espresso shots.

After going back to using my old espresso machine, I found that by using the Espro, not only are perfect shots repeatable from one to the next, there was no perceptible difference between espresso from my inexpensive machine and the newer “prosumer” machine. Moral of the story: before splurging on a new “machine”, consider the other 3″M”s.

Now can you recognize there are many other variables to pay attention to in your espresso than the milk? So don’t let an aversion for soy milk prevent you from giving up dairy. If you simply can’t get used to soy milk in your coffee, try out other non-dairy milks, or learn to enjoy drinking your espresso straight, as the Italians do!

Source by William Santoro