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My travels throughout South East Asia, the US and Europe have definitely shown me one thing… The Melbourne coffee scene is one of a kind. We have the whole thing down pat. Melbournians love their coffee. We also love brunch. And Instagramming photos of food. And we know how to make great coffee (something I definitely can’t say for most of the rest of the world).

Like our multicultured society, our café scene is extremely diverse and has something for everyone. We have the standard, the quirky, the organic, the upmarket…

I am a coffee lover. Before I had ever sipped a coffee, at a young age I had decided I would be a coffee drinker. With a dad passionate about drinking, and making, coffee, I was always so destined. I certainly wouldn’t have made it through 5 and a half years of law school without coffee. We have a great quality coffee machine at home that I have mastered. Tragically, when I developed a lactose intolerance in year 11, it obviously got much more difficult to enjoy coffee when out and about. Until I discovered LF milk makes great coffee, which I could use at home. I couldn’t bear the taste of soy milk, especially not with coffee!

It is for this reason that I am ecstatic that in recent times, Melbourne cafes have fine-tuned the coffee scene so that it is better suited to the #foodie trend and fad diets such as GF. For the most part. I do have some pet peeves and concerns I’d like to share!

  1. Milk options

I love this. Many cafes have (somewhat surprisingly) stocked soy milk as an alternative to cow’s milk for years. But only in the past couple of years has the entrance of other milk choices become a thing.

Almond milk and (occasionally) hazelnut milk are milk options often offered in cafes. I can’t say that this is an exciting trend for this Allergian, and see point 2 in relation to this.

More importantly, I am now starting to see the very-much-welcomed-by-me lactose free (LF) milk served in cafes! This is music to my ears! And my coffee. A Google search of Melbourne cafes serving LF milk failed to find any results so I’ll share with you a few of my fave cafes that serve LF milk. I’d love to hear from readers about your own LF milk spottings throughout Melbourne!

Loco in Elsternwick has been serving Zymil (one of the main brands of LF milk in Australia) for a couple of years. One customer used to keep her own bottle of Zymil in the fridge for when she came to have coffee. When other lactard customers saw the Zymil, they naturally excitedly asked for it so Loco began to stock it! What a win!

The café that I visit on my way to work in the morning, Bull Run in the CBD, also serves Zymil. This café has a vibrant, charismatic take away coffee stand out the front, which offers a range of milk options, with music pumping in the morning.

bull run

I have also discovered LF milk at the Attic café in the CBD and Rupert & the Fig in Brighton.

Needless to say, as great as this is – there are just not enough!! With soy milk such a staple at cafes, I am really hoping that LF milk raises to this standard. I would expect that there is enough of a demand for it. Zymil and Liddells’ LF milk are available in long-life, and customers would be willing to pay extra or drive further for this option!

Cafes are also beginning to offer further milk varieties, such as coconut milk and/or rice milk. Whilst both good options, they are likely to have a bigger impact on the taste of the coffee, which many coffee-lovers would argue is inexcusable! LF milk tastes just like cow’s milk, only it is a bit sweeter.

  1. Cross-contamination

The availability of all these different milk options is both a blessing and a curse for me. It’s great to be able to go to a café and order my weak cappuccino with LF milk. But with this blessing also comes the curse of almond milk (and other nut milks).

For those of us with nut allergies, this can be a really big problem. I hadn’t really thought about this until I went to a particular cafe and discovered they served Zymil when I saw it sitting alongside the cow’s milk, the rice milk and the almond milk. As I was standing there watching their incredibly-efficient 3 person coffee-making arrangement that they’ve got going on, I thought about the risk of cross-contamination due to use of almond milk during the busy morning coffee rush. I let them know about my allergy and they ensured me that they would be careful.

But I think it is important that:

a) cafes be really careful with the use of almond milk. They should take precautions to ensure that there is no risk of cross-contamination e.g. the consistent use of different milk jugs for different milk varieties, cleaning the frothing stick properly between uses (with a fresh cloth where almond milk has been used), using different spoons to stir the coffee, no milk mix-up etc. This issue really also applies where a cow’s milk Allergian orders soy milk (see my next post on this point).

b) It is obvs our responsibility as Allergians to alert a coffee shop to our allergy if there is a form of nut milk on the menu.

Coming soon to Allergian Abroad: Coffee-blanca Part 2!