Why Does Cream Curdle In Coffee?

Cream with coffee is always an excellent combination that gives you the best experience of drinking coffee. You might be seduced by the exploding taste of coffee cream and the creamy texture of your coffee. Hence, you want to add more and more cream in your coffee to enhance the rich flavor but sometimes you see the cream in your cup starts curdling instantly.

Some of you may not know this phenomenon and try to fix your coffee as much as possible to bring the old texture back. The question “Why does cream curdle in coffee?” might be the most triggering to people who suffer this annoying situation.

Here, let’s dive in and figure out more in this article.

Close up of whipped cream on top of the cocoas in brown mug

Why does cream curdle in coffee?

Before going to know about why cream curdles in coffee, you might want to know why cream curdles in the first place. That is because the bacteria in dairy products like cream will consume sugar and produce lactic acid when the cream ages. Once lactic acid occurs, the pH of the cream reduces and the cream will curdle on its own. Fundamentally, there are factors that impact the texture of cream and lead to the curdling, these are acidity in coffee, method of mixing cream and coffee, age of cream, and kind of cream

Curdling or feathering phenomenon is quite annoying. As you pour cream into your coffee but see it curdle in just a few seconds. Then you wonder what step you did wrong eventually. The fact is that there is not only one reason resulting in curdling occurrence. 

White curd from Russian village close-up on the photo

Age of cream is one of the main factors causing this problem. As your cream ages, the lactic acid in it will enlarge more and more which leads to curdling cream. Coffee itself also contains acid and it involves several organic acids and lactic acid is one of them. It can be seen that both cream and coffee have lactic acid. The level of lactic acid speeds up the curdling process when mixing cream with coffee, especially in case the cream is old and the coffee is a bit higher in acidity. 

The heat of coffee does affect the quality of the cream and results in curdled cream as well. When adding cream into a cup of brewed coffee which is definitely too hot, the cream will curdle. The sudden different temperatures of cold cream (just in when it has been in the fridge for a while) and hot coffee encounter create the curdle procedure. Moreover, with the effect of heat, the curdling process will be accelerated. 

Generally, there are two main reasons for making your cream curdle in coffee: the lactic acid level in cream and coffee and the heat of the coffee. The mixture of old cream and hot coffee will end up with a curdling phenomenon. 

How do you keep cream from curdling in coffee?

Based on the reasons why cream curdles are mentioned, there is a solution for you to deal with this problem. 

Before making your coffee, you should wisely choose the type of cream. Do not use a cream that is near expiry. If you have left cream for so long that its quality degrades significantly, just replace it by another fresh one. You do not want your coffee to taste so bad just because of the cream. 

You can use substitutes like plant-based creams to avoid curdling. Some recommended types of plant-based cream are almond milk, soy milk, or soya milk…

Furthermore, do not use too hot coffee. It should be cooled off before coming to the mixing process with cream. You do not need to leave it out until it is completely cool. 1-2 minutes is enough for the temperature to go down and your coffee is now ready to blend with cream.

Besides, using low-acid or non-acid coffee is highly advised in order to blend the drink without any issues. The higher acidity in coffee, the higher chance the cream will curdle. 

Is curdled cream safe to eat?

Technically, compared to normal cream, curdled cream has a different texture. However, it depends on the quality of cream you use in your coffee to decide whether the curdled cream is safe to eat or not. 

In case you use fresh cream and it results in curdling just because of the coffee, the cream in your coffee is totally safe to enjoy. The problem is your coffee, it might be too hot or high in acidity. 

On the other side, your cream curdles for the reason that it is overdue for the expiry date. That is when you should give your coffee up and make a new one with fresher cream. 

Note that once your cream curdles, the taste cannot be returned to its original state. In other words, it is absolutely not appetizing. 

The bottom line

This article has just provided you with some useful information about the reason why cream gets curdled when mixed with coffee. You should consider thoroughly in the preparation of choosing the cream and coffee. The quality of cream and the acidity of coffee is crucial in the determination of creamy texture. 

Remember these things and you will know how to make a delicious cup of cream coffee for yourself without any issue.