Milk of human kindness

You know exactly where your coffee came from, and you’re satisfied that a fair price was tendered for those locally roasted beans. So why ignore the milk?

Feature from The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide No 3 – buy your copy here

According to Steph Stephenson if you’re going to talk about the provenance, flavour and quality of coffee beans, it makes sense to use ethically-sourced, free-range milk.

Why go to all that effort with the coffee then pour in any old milk?’ asks Steph, who runs Stephensons Dairy in Morecambe near Lancaster with husband Chris. Together they’ve created the first dairy to launch free-range milk in the UK.

Not all milk is the same, according to Steph.

Most people presume that all cows live outside, roaming romantically on lush green pastures, but sadly that is far from the truth,’ she says.

Pressure on farms to join the ruthless competition for cheap milk has turned the dairy industry into an intensive factory farming operation, where cows seldom go outside and are typically fed Total Mixed Rations (TMR) which is a mix of maize, wheat, rape seed and GM soya.

Steph and Chris are on a mission to change that by collaborating with farmers who are committed to grazing cows outdoors for a minimum of 180 days and nights each year.

The North has a great climate for growing grass, and cows are inquisitive and social creatures that are born to forage and graze,’ she says. ‘Allowing them the freedom of the fields lets them express their natural behaviour and enjoy the diet they were designed to eat as ruminants.

Looking out for the Pasture Promise logo is one way to ensure that the foamy top on your flat white can be traced from field to fridge, and it’s a symbol that’s gaining recognition on the quality coffee scene.

Not only are speciality coffee shops using free-range milk for its great taste, they also like the fact that the milk provides local farmers with a sustainable future,’ says Steph.

Some baristas believe it’s the healthier option for their customers, too.

Increasingly, evidence shows that milk produced from cows that graze, compared to those fed a diet high in grain, is lower in saturated fat and contains more healthy fats like omega-3,’ says Steph.

All well and good but how does it rate as a canvas?

Baristas love our milk,’ smiles Steph. ‘Because not only does it taste delicious, it also performs beautifully when steamed, so is ideal for creating latte art.


Leave a Reply

Stories from the world of coffee

Find your guide