Coffee whiteners are not imitation creams. They are formulated systems similar to the natural dairy product, with the advantages of lower cost, longer shelf life, and excellent mouthfeel and physical properties. Properly manufactured coffee whiteners combine five basic components: vegetable or animal fat, protein, carbohydrate, stabilizer-emulsifier, and water in a stable product with a delicate flavor that disperses quickly in coffee.
Coffee whiteners are customarily marketed either as a dry, free-flowing powder or as a liquid constituted for immediate use. A typical formulation is as follows (percentages are dry weight):
- Low DE glucose syrup or maltodextrin 50-60%
- Emulsifier-stabilizer 3-5%
- Protein (caseinate) 4-8%
- Fat (shortening or oil) 30-40%
- Buffering agent 1-5%
- Flavoring and color as required
Carbohydrates, acting as bulking agents, must be present to adjust the density and viscosity of the system by adding soluble solids to it without undesirable sweetness. The most acceptable are low DE glucose syrups or maltodextrins.
A truly bland, dairy-like flavor is important, one typically augmented by low sweetness carbohydrates in liquid or dry solids form.
Among the other desirable characteristics of a good coffee whitener are low hygroscopicity (in the powdered product) to prevent lumping and caking, uniform suspension in coffees of varying pH values, and quick, homogeneous dispersion in hot liquids.