Picture this: you’ve popped your K-Cup into your Keurig and are waiting for it to brew. While you wait, you grab the milk from the fridge and decide you want to make a faux cappuccino today. As you put a cup of milk in the microwave, inspiration hits! “What if I put the milk directly in the Keurig and save a step?” you think. While it might seem like a natural idea, this is a huge mistake that will ruin your Keurig! Under no circumstances should you fill your Keurig with anything besides water.
In this article, we’ll briefly explain why putting milk in your Keurig is a terrible idea and give you some alternative options for how you can easily prepare milk-based coffee drinks with your Keurig.
Why Can’t You Put Milk in a Keurig?
Keurigs are designed specifically to heat water and only water. The internal system that routes water from the reservoir to the pod is impossible to access for deep cleaning. Even after you rinse the Keurig or run a cleaning cycle, inevitably there will still be some milk in the line or the dispensing needle. Once the line is clogged, you have very few options to try and unclog it, and most likely, you’ll have to purchase a new machine. It’s better to avoid these problems altogether and use a different method to prepare your milk.
If you want to make latte-style drinks at home with your Keurig, milk pods are a clever, convenient option. Some companies make two-step drinks that come with a coffee pod and a milk pod. The idea is to brew the coffee first and then use the milk pod to make pseudo-frothed milk. These pods are just as convenient to use as ordinary K-Cups and make brewing milk-based espresso drinks with a Keurig extremely quick and easy.
There are simple options for many espresso drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos, but there are also more involved versions that let you make drinks like peppermint mochas or flavored lattes just as easily. If you love how easy Keurigs are to use and want the same convenience for milk drinks, definitely look into getting some milk pods.
The Old Fashioned Way
If you don’t want to spring for milk pods or just want to use the milk you already have, you’ll have to heat your milk separately. If you’re making a regular cup of coffee and want to add milk, it isn’t necessary to heat the milk first. Most people add cold milk to their coffee, and this is probably the best way. If you only add a splash of milk, it won’t cool your coffee down much and actually can make it more drinkable.
Regular coffee is easy, but what about fancy espresso drinks? If you want to use your Keurig to mimic café drinks like cappuccinos and lattes, you’ll have to heat your milk first. Most espresso drinks get their creamy texture and smooth mouthfeel from frothed milk. If you simply heat your milk and dump it in, you’ll most likely be disappointed. There is some effort required, and it will take some practice to get the process right.
The first thing to know is that milk needs to be between 130 ºF and 145 ºF to get the optimal formation of milk foam. If your water is too hot or too cold, you won’t be able to produce enough milk foam to get the creamy texture you’re after. Use a basic kitchen thermometer to monitor your milk’s temperature and ensure you don’t overheat it.
Once your milk reaches the ideal temperature, it’s ready to be frothed. There are specialized frothing tools that make this easy, and we highly recommend you get one if you plan on making drinks that require steamed milk regularly. Steam wands make it much easier to get the right consistency, and once you use one, you won’t want to froth milk by hand ever again.
If you don’t want to buy a steam wand, that’s alright, you have several alternatives. If you own a French press, you can use the plunger to froth milk with surprisingly good results. Simply pour your preheated milk into the French press and rapidly move the plunger back and forth until the milk starts to thicken. This method doesn’t give you much control but is faster and easier than using a whisk.
Without a French press, your options are limited to whisking the milk by hand. This is a time-consuming and somewhat taxing process, but it gives you more precise control over the milk’s texture. The proper frothing technique is subtle, and the best results come from intentionally mixing the upper and lower layers as you whisk. With practice, you’ll learn how to get the texture you like and start to get more consistent.
Keurigs have revolutionized how people prepare coffee at home by making one-button machines that take away virtually all of the effort of making a cup of coffee. If you’ve been tempted to experiment by adding milk to your Keurig thinking it will simplify your preparation process further, don’t do it! You will irreparably damage your Keurig and will more than likely have to replace it. If you want to make espresso-style drinks with your Keurig, you should either buy milk pods or prepare the milk by hand. It takes effort but comes with the major benefit of not destroying your Keurig.