Nutmilk City Limits
Nutmilk. Friend to vegans and the lactose intolerant, along with anyone who likes a delicious tasty creamy alternative to dairy milk. My intrepid coffee roasting guru Chris Natoli from Talk Coffee is a man who isn’t shy of a shiny new appliance. When he decided to bench test the Brewista Nutramilk nut processor while I was over at his place, I was in like flynn as his nutty assistant.
Let’s get back to basics on the nut milk production front. Making nut milk isn’t rocket science. Basically nuts get blended with water, strained, and hey presto, milk. The trick of course is that to get really creamy delicious nut milk, you need a super strong blender, and a nut bag to strain out the solids. I’ve been making nut milk using a Thermomix for a few years now, and while it makes an excellent product, I always seem to end up with milk and nut grits everywhere. I also have to remember to soak the nuts, which when I want to whiz up some milk quickly, is an issue. The other major hurdle with the milk o' nuts is I have never found a nut milk that didn’t curdle in coffee, which is kind of a bummer, as I just want that holy grail of a non curds and whey coffee.
The Nutramilk bench test we did looked at several factors to warrant the expense of the machine coming in at about $870 bucks retail, which isn’t peanuts (see what I did there!). Would it make good nut milk? Was it easy to use? Was it easy to clean? Did it have sufficient features and quality to make it a good value proposition against the other products available on the market and of course the big one – would the milk it made not curdle in espresso?
We decided to make two batches, one with cashews and one with almonds. My first impression of the Nutramilk was that it was big, and would take up a lot of real estate on a domestic bench. However, I guess this was designed for those who take their nut milks seriously, or cafes that would use nut milks extensively. Keeping in mind that most nut milks are packaged and to have commercial shelf life have a range of preservatives and additives to make them palatable and stable, a machine that churns out good milk that is just nuts and water is already compelling from a waste and taste perspective.
While the Nutramilk is big, it is smart. You don’t need to soak the nuts, and (deep gasp and drumroll), it makes nut butter first then turns that into milk. This is a key innovation, as that means it is a two trick pony, and who would have thunk of using a nut butter for milk, not a soaked nut. Genius. The fundamental process is this: you grind the nuts into a butter, then add water, mix, then strain. The end. So far, so good, in fact so really good. Our first test was a cashew milk: the cashew nut butter was delicious and took about 7 mins to make, and the milk that followed was instant. It was creamy and delicious and better than any nut milk I’d had commercially. Now for the coffee test.
Of course Chris had a perfectly aged roast ready to extract. I have to be honest, I was not confident I wouldn’t be straining curds through my teeth minutes later. Chris textured the milk and we poured. Nothing. No curd, no way! Just to be rigorous we made a second batch with almonds and both the butter and milk that followed rocked - plus the coffee stayed in one piece even after we sat it on the bench. There are several moving parts to the machine and all scrubbed up quickly and easily in the sink.
So what’s the verdict I hear you ask?
If you run the numbers on the cost of nuts, one cup makes 1 litre of milk. We calculated it costed about $4 per litre to make, which is comparable with most of the mass produced shelf stable product in the supermarket. But keep in mind this is fresh and without any preservatives or sweeteners except the ones you choose to add yourself, so in the store you can rachet the cost of that up to about $7. It makes up to 2l at a time, which is unavailable commercially, so volume is a winner too. The convenience of being able to make really good nut milk on demand, in quantity along with butters with no soaking needed is a big plus. This appliance would be a no brainer for a café, and I think if you had the space and the finances, you could make a pretty good case for having one in a domestic situation, or at least going in with some other nut milk loving friends and sharing the milky goodness.
To purchase a Brewista Nutramilk Nut Processor, go to the Talk Coffee website here
If you want to have a crack at making your own nut milk, here is my go-to recipe.
High speed blender
Nutbag for straining
1 cup almonds or cashews soaked in water overnight or for at least 4 hours and strained
2C quality water
pinch sea salt
1/2t vanilla essence
sweetener if desired (maple syrup or agave syrup work best)
Lets Do This!
Add the nuts, water, salt and vanilla to your high speed blender. Blend for 2-5 minutes. Place the nutbag over an appropriately sized jug and strain the mix into it. Press out the remaining liquid from the nuts and hey presto – you got milk! Amazing on cereals, porridge, in smoothies, in coffee, or pretty much anywhere you want a delicious milky drink. The left over nut meal can be dried in the oven used in baking or in vege burgers or loaves. Win win!