It's the coffee issue that has plagued hipsters and baristas the world over – how to make a soy or almond milk latte without having the milk split and curdle into an unpalatable mess.
An Australian company has now solved the scientific puzzle, and is about to release a range of milks that have been designed and blended to work specifically with black coffee.
Some of the nation's leading baristas have worked on the MILKLAB with Freedom Foods, which has been making gluten-free and allergen-free products since 1990, to create the new range of milks.
"Australians drink nearly 4 billion cups of coffee year, and the majority of those are made with cheap $1 a litre milk bought straight off the supermarket shelf," said Angelo De Blasio, brand manager for Freedom Foods.
"Australians love great coffee. We have most likely the best coffee culture in the world, but there was nothing in terms of milk designed to go with it. So we decided to invent it."
The key factors that cause soy and almond milk to curdle are the high acidity of black coffee and temperature. The coffee acts as a coagulant, causing the milk to split and curdle in a cup.
Freedom will not reveal the secrets of some its blends. "I can tell you, getting almond milk not to split, or getting soy milk not to split and curdle when you add very hot coffee, is no easy task," De Blasio said. "It has taken us over a year. We have adjusted calcium levels, added some natural vegetable gums. The end result is we have range of milks that are perfectly matched to the acidity of high-quality espresso coffee."
To get the blends right, the MILKLAB project engaged the help of baristas in Australia and around the world, including Melbourne's Gem Fusca from Percy's Aeroplane Cafe in Kew, China's Andy Lu and Instagram's @latteartporn barista Matthew Lakejev from Sydney, whose displays of latte art have garnered him a social media following of more than 14,000.
"They will not split no matter what kind of coffee or roast you throw at them," said Fusca. "I have never encountered non-dairy milks like it."
The new range of products includes milks made from soy, almond and coconut milk, as well as a lactose-free dairy milk.
MILKLAB was launched at a party for 1000 latte lovers in Sydney on Friday.