Whether it’s a cosy cappuccino or an ­elegant latte macchiato – they bring a little taste of Italy to our lives. The delicate frothy milk can transport us to an espresso bar and make us forget the coffee has come from the capsule machine in our own kitchen. But ensuring the perfect flow of milk from the capsule machine to create that ideal frothy topping requires considerable expertise.

Cof­fee – you can hardly imag­ine life with­out it. It wakes us up in the morn­ing and short­ens the wait on the train plat­form. It promises mo­ments of coffee-­shop plea­sure in the af­ter­noon and the el­e­gant end to a con­vivial gath­er­ing over din­ner later. XS or XXL – we drink our cof­fees short and tall, light or dark, with or with­out sugar.

The fas­ci­na­tion of frothy milk

If you’re look­ing for a real treat, you can’t beat a ­coffee with a light and frothy milky top­ping. The ­ultimate in cof­fee cul­ture, cap­puc­cino and latte ­macchiato hold a par­tic­u­lar fas­ci­na­tion for us. The frothed milk com­bines gen­uine skill, pure en­joy­ment and an artis­tic touch. The most tal­ented baris­tas in the world com­pete to pro­duce the most beau­ti­ful milky foams at in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions such as the “World Latte Art Cham­pi­onship”, cre­at­ing real works of art from cof­fee and frothy milk.

"We have been pro­cess­ing milk since 1895. De­vel­op­ing new ap­pli­ca­tions is al­most in our genes."

We have a more mod­est ap­proach to frothy milk in our every­day lives. We want to cre­ate an en­joy­able, frothy cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence with the min­i­mum of ef­fort. But we still want a fluffy top­ping that doesn’t just dis­ap­pear after a few sec­onds – and the milky froth needs to cope with choco­late pow­der or a caramel top­ping.

Wanted: milk pow­der for the per­fect cof­fee top­ping

A well-known Swiss man­u­fac­turer of Ne­spresso-com­pat­i­ble cof­fee cap­sule sys­tems was on the look-out for the per­fect milk froth when it ap­proached the HOCHDORF Group. Two-cap­sule sys­tems are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar with cof­fee lovers. “The grow­ing num­ber of sin­gle-per­son house­holds has in­creased the need for por­tion-sized milk and cof­fee quan­ti­ties,” ex­plains Chris­t­ian Fanger, Key Ac­count Man­ager in the Dairy In­gre­di­ents di­vi­sion at HOCHDORF for many years. The ad­van­tage is ob­vi­ous: a car­ton of milk only stays fresh for a frac­tion of the time of the milk pow­der cap­sules. Then it needs to be thrown away.

Along­side the longer shelf life, a two-cap­sule sys­tem that com­bines cof­fee and milk pow­der to pro­duce frothy cof­fees also of­fers other wel­come ben­e­fits: you need a sep­a­rate milk pan and a milk frother to make cap­puc­ci­nos or latte mac­chi­atos if you don’t have a ma­chine that does it, as Chris­t­ian Fanger points out. These be­come a thing of the past with the two-­capsule sys­tem: the cap­puc­cino is eas­ier to make and the prepa­ra­tion and clean­ing time is re­duced to a min­i­mum.

In search of flavour – milk is not just milk So how can we cre­ate a de­li­cious drink with a del­i­cate milky froth from a milk pow­der cap­sule? As an ­expert in milk pow­der, it’s a ques­tion that gets Chris­t­ian Fanger ex­cited. “It is all about com­bin­ing the flavours har­mo­niously. Each milk pow­der has its own ­character and re­acts dif­fer­ently when it is com­bined with ­coffee.” Chris­t­ian Fanger has no doubt you achieve the best re­sults with the most nat­ural milk pow­der pos­si­ble, pro­duced in a gen­tle dry­ing process. Swiss milk, or milk based on a diet of grass and hay, is par­tic­u­larly good. “The type of feed gives the milk its unique taste and in­flu­ences its nu­tri­tional value,” he em­pha­sises.

Flavour may be the key fac­tor when it comes to cap­puc­cino, but it is still re­as­sur­ing to know that the milk pow­der cap­sules from HOCHDORF taste good and are healthy too.

The se­cret of frothy milk – it can’t be taken for granted

A good cap­puc­cino or latte mac­chi­ato has a bal­anced, rounded flavour. In terms of taste, the cof­fee pow­der and milk pow­der are equally im­por­tant.

With­out a frothy top­ping the most de­li­cious cap­puc­cino is just a milky cof­fee. HOCHDORF, or the milk pow­der de­vel­oped by HOCHDORF, de­liv­ered the per­fect milky froth. “It was a chal­lenge that was made for us. We have been pro­cess­ing milk since 1895. De­vel­op­ing new ap­pli­ca­tions is al­most in our genes,” says Chris­t­ian Fanger. It’s not just about de­vel­op­ing the per­fect milk pow­der ei­ther; you also have to meet the spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the in­tended end pack­ag­ing.

"Our em­ploy­ees were able to es­tab­lish the exact com­position of our milk pow­der using lab­o­ra­tory tests. But that didn’t solve the prob­lem of op­ti­mum froth­i­ness." 

“I can share one or two com­mer­cial se­crets with you,” he laughs. To make a lighter froth flow from the cap­sule in the de­sired quan­tity, it re­quires a pow­der with spe­cific qual­i­ties. And here it’s also im­por­tant to note: the milk pow­der has to fit in the pack­ag­ing, in this case the cap­sule. “So there needs to be a clearly de­fined bulk den­sity.”

If it is too high, the pow­der will spill over the seal­ing edge when the cap­sules are filled and there won’t be an air-tight seal. If the vol­ume of pow­der is too small, you might be able to seal the cap­sule per­fectly but it won’t pro­vide the right quan­tity or qual­ity of milk froth.

So what about the froth­i­ness? “Milk pow­der needs to have the right com­bi­na­tion of milk fat, lac­tose and pro­tein to cre­ate a re­ally good froth,” ex­plains Chris­t­ian Fanger. HOCHDORF also adds sun­flower lecithin, which is a nat­ural emul­si­fier. “The lecithin quan­tity that oc­curs nat­u­rally in the milk is not suf­fi­cient to cre­ate a lovely, sta­ble froth. Sun­flower lecithin also helps the sol­u­bil­ity of the pow­der.” Pow­der sol­u­bil­ity is also very im­por­tant for the qual­ity of the cap­puc­cino or latte mac­chi­ato. If the pow­der doesn’t dis­solve com­pletely it stays in the cap­sule and the cap­puc­cino or latte mac­chi­ato con­tains too lit­tle milk. It might not af­fect the milk froth, but we won’t enjoy the cof­fee as much.

Fi­nally, the per­fect froth also needs the ideal ma­chine set­tings. The water needs to run through the cap­sule at a spe­cific pres­sure and the right tem­per­a­ture to en­sure that the cof­fee is not bit­ter and the pow­der froths nicely: one area that lies out­side the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the milk pow­der pro­ducer.

The process tech­nol­ogy is our best kept se­cret

“Our em­ploy­ees were able to es­tab­lish the exact com­po­si­tion of our milk pow­der using lab­o­ra­tory tests. But that didn’t solve the prob­lem of op­ti­mum froth­i­ness by a long way.” The biggest se­cret, by far, lies in the en­gi­neer­ing and pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy – or when and in what order the in­di­vid­ual steps in the process occur. “We are keep­ing our cards close to our chest on this one,” ex­plains Chris­t­ian Fanger. “And that in­cludes the stor­age and trans­port of the milk pow­der.”

Pro­duc­ing milk pow­der for cap­sule sys­tems is a cross-lo­ca­tion process for HOCHDORF. The two-­capsule sys­tem man­u­fac­turer now sells its prod­ucts in Switzer­land and abroad. There has been a strong pub­lic­ity cam­paign in­ter­na­tion­ally and the cap­sules in­tended for ex­port are man­u­fac­tured at our plant in Pren­zlau (Ger­many). “We have un­der­gone the nec­es­sary process and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment for the pow­der for the sec­ond time,” ex­plains Chris­t­ian Fanger. To cre­ate the same prod­uct at a dif­fer­ent plant is no mean feat, but we have risen to the chal­lenge. All things con­sid­ered, it’s a great suc­cess story for the HOCHDORF Group.

It seems the en­tire cof­fee cul­ture with its cap­puc­ci­nos and latte mac­chi­atos still has a touch of mys­tery about it. It’s a fa­mil­iar fea­ture in ad­verts al­most every day: those funny, mis­chie­vous cof­fee agents bring­ing cof­fee cap­sules straight into our liv­ing rooms. That’s what cof­fee rep­re­sents – an in­ter­na­tional prod­uct with a touch of fun.

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