Posted in Kafevend Blog

Welcome back to the Kafevend blog, and a look today at an item we take for granted- milk. If you are a fan of tea, coffee or cocoa, it's pretty likely you add varying amounts to your cuppa, whether it's just a splash in your tea, a generous helping in your latte or an entire mug to accompany your cocoa. Where then did the trend of using so much milk in each of our favourite drinks begin?

When it comes to tea, in the West at least, whether you had milk in your tea or not was a sign of your wealth. In England, tea was an expensive luxury for a long time, a situation not helped at all by the excessive tax placed upon it. Richer folk could afford to drink tea by itself, although they might have added a splash of milk to mask the bitterness. As you went down the pecking order, people would dilute the tea with higher and higher amounts of milk in order to make it go further. Of course, these days this isn't so much the case, and milk is mainly used to alter the flavour.

Milk in coffee can be traced back to France, where a Turkish ambassador raised the drink's profile during a stay in Paris when it was first circulating around Europe. The Café au Lait was created soon after when French coffee drinkers started adding milk to their brew. Milk is obviously a huge component in many variations of coffee, such as the latte and flat white. Its addition makes for a rich and creamy drink and can reduce the bitterness typically associated with coffee; it's perfect for those who like the flavour but not the potentially overwhelming strength of coffee!

Coming at last to cocoa, the use of milk in its make up can be attributed to the Spanish, who brought it to Europe after observing its use by the Mesoamerican civilizations they conquered. By the time the Spanish brought cocoa home, they were also using sugar which had made its way from the other side of the globe. The Spanish weren't fond of the original cocoa drink made by the Mesoamericans and so added sugar and subbed out water for milk to create a more palatable drink. It was this richer version of cocoa that then spread through Europe when word of it finally got out.

Most of us are able to add milk to our drinks to suit our own personal preference, or indeed have them made up entirely of milk, without batting an eyelid. For some though, milk and its ability to enhance a drink is off limits due to them having a dairy intolerance. Thankfully, there are ways around this for those unfortunate enough to have this particular problem, and we'll take a look at those solutions a little later this week!

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