Noisette coffee may sound like a flavour of hazelnut coffee, but it’s a distinct espresso drink with unique characteristics. Made by combining a shot of espresso with a small amount of hot milk froth, noisette coffee is a popular choice in France and other parts of Europe.
The name “noisette” derives from the drink’s light hazelnut colour, which comes from the perfect ratio of espresso to milk froth.
While there’s room for customization regarding milk temperature and froth amount, a traditional noisette coffee follows a specific recipe that calls for just the right amount of froth on top. Too much froth, or using milk or cream instead of froth, can alter the flavour and texture of the drink. The barista can serve the milk froth in a small jug for the guest to pour.
If you want to expand your coffee palate beyond the standard latte or cappuccino, I recommend giving noisette coffee a chance. This beverage provides a delectable and unique coffee-drinking experience with its delicate hazelnut hue and velvety texture.
The history of Noisette coffee
Noisette coffee has a long and fascinating history that begins in France, where it was first introduced as a popular espresso drink in the early 20th century. “Noisette” means “hazelnut” in French and refers to the drink’s light hazelnut colour.
While the exact origin of Noisette coffee is unknown, it is believed to have emerged in France as a response to the popular Italian espresso drinks of the time. French baristas began experimenting with different ways to serve espresso, including adding small amounts of frothed milk to create a new and distinct beverage.
Noisette coffee remains an important part of French coffee culture and is often enjoyed alongside pastries or other sweet treats. Today, the drink continues to evolve and adapt to new tastes and preferences, with new variations and interpretations always emerging.
How to prepare Noisette coffee
You’ll need a shot of espresso and a small amount of hot milk froth to make a classic Noisette coffee. Here are the steps to follow:
- Start by brewing a shot of espresso in a demitasse cup.
- Steam and froth a small amount of milk in a separate pitcher or jug until it reaches the desired texture and temperature.
- Pour the frothed milk into the espresso shot, filling the cup approximately 1/4 of the way.
- Spoon the remaining froth on the drink to create a light, hazelnut-coloured layer.
Popular variations of Noisette coffee
While traditional noisette coffee follows a specific recipe, there are a few variations that you can try to switch things up. Here are some popular ones:
- Noisette a la crème: This variation of noisette coffee includes a small amount of cream with the frothed milk, resulting in a richer and creamier drink.
- Miel Noisette: This version adds a touch of honey to the drink, giving it a slightly sweeter taste.
- Noisette Glacé: This variation is served cold and made by blending the espresso with ice and a small amount of milk froth.
Serving Noisette coffee
Noisette coffee is typically served in a small demitasse cup, usually preheated to keep the drink warm for longer.
Some baristas may serve the milk froth separately in a small jug, allowing customers to pour it on top of the espresso shot themselves.
Noisette coffee is often enjoyed as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up and pairs well with pastries such as croissants.
Differences between Noisette and Cortado coffee
The key distinction lies in the milk preparation when comparing noisette coffee and a cortado coffee. Noisette coffee is made with hot-frothed milk, while cortado coffee features a simple splash of milk (not frothed) customized to the customer’s preferred temperature and taste.
While the two coffee styles can be indistinguishable in many cases, noisette coffee requires the milk to be properly frothed, giving it a unique texture that sets it apart from cortado.
Differences between Noisette and Manchado coffee
It’s easy to mistake noisette and Manchado coffee, but the difference is clear. Noisette coffee has a higher coffee-to-milk ratio, while Manchado coffee has much more milk than coffee.
Although variations of noisette coffee can be found in Paris, such as noisette a la crème with a little cream or a bit more milk than usual, they don’t resemble Manchado coffee. Despite the milk froth in noisette coffee slightly “staining” the espresso, the proportions are still quite different.
➡️ It’s noteworthy that “Manchado” comes from Spanish and means “stained.”
Do Noisette coffee pods exist?
No noisette coffee pods are available on the market. However, some brands of single-dose coffee offer varieties of Cortado coffee that closely resemble it, although not all allow for mixed drinks with powdered milk.
For instance, Dolce Gusto offers options such as Nescafe Dolce Gusto Cortado Espresso Macchiato Coffee Pods and Tassimo Marcilla Cortado Coffee Pods.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that noisette coffee should be made with frothed milk, so it’s always possible to use an espresso pod (available in all coffee machines) and froth the milk on your own.
However, this may detract from the appeal of the capsule system, which is its speed and convenience. The latter system would be the only possibility for those using systems like Nespresso or Senseo that do not offer milk powder pods in their official brand catalogues.