In recent years, coffee shop customers have come to demand more from their beverages. With an emerging consumer focus on health and wellness, more and more customers are looking for their drinks to do more than simply taste good; many now want the food and drink they consume to contribute to their health and wellbeing or support their lifestyle.
With this in mind, many consumers have looked to traditional drinks, such as kombucha and green tea. Another such example is haldi doodh, or turmeric milk – often served in cafés as a turmeric latte.
But how closely does today’s turmeric latte resemble traditional turmeric milk? And what kind of health benefits does the drink claim to have? Read on to learn more.
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Not Technically A Latte
As its name would suggest, the main ingredient of this beverage is turmeric. It gives the drink its colour as well as its name, although it is sometimes also referred to as a “golden latte” or “golden milk”.
However, the turmeric latte isn’t technically a latte, as it contains no coffee. Instead, the drink is made by topping turmeric milk with milk foam and latte art.
Tudor Cioltea is the owner of Golden Flavours in Romania. He says: “The best way to describe this beverage is that it has a creamy, earthy flavour with a spicy kick and a hint of sweetness.”
Turmeric milk usually consists of ground or fresh turmeric which has been steeped in milk for a significant period of time. However, as dairy consumption in India (where the drink is believed to have originated) isn’t high in some regions of the country, it is sometimes prepared by steeping turmeric in coconut milk or another non-dairy alternative.
Today, as steeping turmeric in milk can be time-consuming and messy, many cafés use or create their own turmeric latte mixes. These are often then sold to the public for use at home.
Once the mixture is ready, the turmeric milk is then boiled and seasoned to taste with spices and other sweeteners. If prepared at home, the beverage is then strained and served. In cafés, however, there is one more stage: topping the beverage with latte art.
“Its taste can definitely be intensified by increasing the quantity [and range] of spices and sweeteners that you add,” Tudor tells me. “That’s the beauty of this beverage – you can adapt it to your taste.”
Kristina Myers is the Communications and Brand Manager at Wild & The Moon, a café in Paris. She tells us that their “golden latte” contains turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, almond milk, and coconut milk – and can be consumed hot or cold.
She also serves a separate “golden milk” beverage, which is made with almond milk, turmeric, chai spice, vanilla, dates, black pepper, and salt.
According to a study conducted by research consultancy Grand View Research, consumer demand for “functional ingredients” is growing. “Functional ingredients” are generally defined as natural foodstuffs that boost energy, contribute to the human body’s immune system, or help stave off disease.
Two of the most popular examples from recent years are probiotic yoghurts which promote gut health (such as those sold by Yakult or Activia) and antioxidant “superfoods” such as blueberries or goji berries.
In line with this trend, turmeric has recently seen something of a revival in drink recipes and on menus. However, the spice has actually been recognised for its medicinal properties for more than 2,000 years.
The earliest written record of turmeric being used in a medicinal capacity dates back to 250 BCE. It has played a key role in Ayurvedic medicine (a traditional alternative medicine system found in India) and other religious ceremonies.
The spice became so popular that more than 53 Sanskrit phrases have been recorded that describe its benefits (including being used as a natural clothing dye as well as a makeshift antivenom).
Ewa Wiktoria Milewska is the owner of Caffé Berry in Sliema, Malta. She says: “Today, people are looking for healthy foods, reading the labels on the products they buy, and looking for product information on the internet and social media platforms.
“Some people are even trying to replace the need for medicine with home remedies… I think there are trends going in that direction.”
Turmeric is native to India, where the majority of the world’s supply of the spice is harvested, dried, powdered, and processed. The country also consumes more than 80% of all turmeric products in the world. It’s estimated that the average adult in Asia consumes between 200mg and 1,000mg of turmeric on any given day.
Laboratory studies show that turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic qualities. Historically, it has been combined with milk and black pepper to make a home remedy ointment which is applied to the skin to treat topical ailments.
However, many researchers feel that further clinical trials about the effectiveness of turmeric are needed to clarify its effect on the human body. While its exact effects are unclear, the medical consensus is that the spice does have some kind of therapeutic potential, and that a healthy adult can consume up to two grams a day.
Serving The Turmeric Latte Today
When steeped in milk, turmeric provides the “latte” with a very mild earthy and bitter taste. However, as a very subtle flavour with a distinct colour, it can also be added to other spiced coffees when experimenting with a coffee shop menu.
For example, Ewa says she serves a “dirty” turmeric latte which is made by adding an espresso shot, turmeric, walnut milk, and rice milk to cold pressed organic beetroot juice.
“We also offer iced versions on hot days, as Malta is a Mediterranean island where summer temperatures can reach 45°C,” she says.
Tudor tells me that his turmeric lattes are made with maca, ashwagandha (another medicinal herb often associated with Ayurveda), black pepper, and ginseng.
He adds: “You can blend our turmeric mix with frozen bananas, oranges, or your favourite fruits for an energising and healthy smoothie. You can also add it to your lemonade or enjoy an iced tea made with a turmeric latte mix.”
As the turmeric latte’s striking, bright appearance is arguably a part of its appeal, Ewa adds that its presentation matters. She says: “We prepare a version with organic edible flowers on the top to make the drink more ‘Instagram-friendly’. It’s quite popular!”
With a unique flavour, an eye-catching appearance, and a range of supposed (but unconfirmed) health benefits, the turmeric latte has a lot to offer a coffee shop menu.
While the drink is easy to prepare at home, it can be prepared in an almost limitless number of ways behind a café bar. Whether turmeric is mixed with other spices, syrups, sweeteners, or even added to an existing coffee shop beverage, it can help you to offer a truly unique drink to your customers.
Enjoyed this? Then read Does Latte Art Make Your Coffee Better – Or Worse?
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