Milk and coffee are a match made in heaven. Sweet, creamy milk and strong espresso pair well with milk to make a delicious drink, whether it’s a latte or cappuccino.
With more and more people cutting out dairy, plant-based milks are on the rise. Gone are the days when you had just one choice in sight—as markets now offer creamy and satisfying non-dairy alternatives for cows’ milk. Sales of dairy-free milk in the United States increased by 27% from 2018 to 2020. Americans aren’t the only ones experimenting with dairy-free milk. According to Innova Market Insights, the global market for plant-based milk may continue to grow by billions of dollars.
Now there are a plethora of creamy alternatives that will satisfy any craving. In terms of non-dairy milks, almond is currently the norm, but soy is still kicking. When it comes to coffee, each milk alternative tastes different and some are able to successfully mimic dairy. With more plant-based, vegan milks available than at any other time in human history, it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out just the right one for your coffee—especially when it comes to steaming them for espresso-based drinks.
Whether you want to try something new, or you just made the decision to cut dairy out of your diet, here are some of the best alternative milk for coffee that we think you should be testing out.
Oat milk is a delicious, new trend in the coffee world. Made from oats and water with maybe some oil for emulsification– it has been surprising people who thought dairy was always necessary but couldn’t be more wrong! It has a rich, full-bodied texture that rivals the whole dairy.
Taste: Oat milk has a creamy flavor and a texture that is comparable to that of full-fat dairy milk in coffee. It has a smooth texture that mixes in easily, which is why it’s becoming increasingly popular.
Foam: Because it has a lot lower protein content than dairy (or even other plant-based milks like hemp or soy) and thus needs some elbow work to create microfoam, but it does the job—just keep in mind that it may take longer than other milk.
Nutrition: Oat milk is high in fiber, specifically beta-glucan, a soluble fiber found in oats that may assist to lower cholesterol. Oat milk holds its own when it comes to protein, with around 3-4 grams per cup. Because oats are naturally high in carbohydrates, oat milk has 6 grams of sugar per cup. It is an ideal choice for people who are looking to boost their digestive health.
Coconut milk is the creamiest, most delicious type of dairy. It also happens to be highest in saturated fat with about 3 grams per cup! Many brands have a neutral flavor with only a trace of coconut taste. Coconut milk in cartons, not cans, is best. Canned coconut milk has a stronger taste and is thicker than carton coconut milk.
Taste: Coconut milk has a subtle coconut taste than shredded coconut and other coconut products. The light coconut flavor of coffee drinks containing syrups or other flavorings is masked. Some sweetness may be detectable in a latte or cappuccino. It has a good consistency with, not surprisingly, coconut flavor—which may or may not be a flavor you want in your morning coffee.
Foam: The froth of coconut milk is less dense and has larger bubbles than dairy milk.
Nutrition: Coconut milk has a rich, creamy consistency. It’s full of saturated fat but doesn’t contain any protein so you’ll have to combine it with other foods high in nutrients for the best results! Coconut also provides us with vitamin A & B12 as well as E – two important vitamins found abundantly within our bodies’ cells.
Soy milk is a popular non-dairy milk substitute. Soy milk has been around for millennia, from ancient China to your local supermarket, and it’s been a favorite of people for centuries.
Soy milk is created from soybeans and filtered water. To improve consistency and shelf life, it may be thickened with thickeners like other plant-based milk alternatives.
Because soy milk have been on the market for so long, most of them include a variety of additives and stabilizers that make them behave similarly to cow’s milk.
Taste: Soy milk has a smooth, creamy texture and a neutral flavor that mimics dairy milk. Homemade soy milk is often described as having a “bean-y” taste.
Foam: Unlike oat milk, soy milk has nearly as much protein in it as dairy does, so it replicates a pretty smooth microfoam of dairy milk if steamed properly. It might curdle as a result of the coffee’s acidity or temperature, so handle with care. You’ll have to keep the temperature a bit lower than for traditional milks, around 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nutrition: As far as nutrition is concerned, soy milk is the closest to cow’s milk of all plant-based milks. One cup of unsweetened soy milk has 7 g of protein, 4 g of fat, and 4 g of carbohydrates (sweetened varieties have more). It provides potassium and isoflavones, which are useful against some cancers and osteoporosis. Soy milk is cholesterol- and saturated fat-free since it is made from plants. It also contains no lactose.
The popularity of almond milk is continuously increasing. A variety of flavors including sweetened and unsweetened almond milk are available. It may be used to add a unique taste and texture to your coffee while also providing antioxidant benefits.
Unfortunately, like soy milk, almond milk can curdle in coffee due to temperature and acidity. To prevent curdling, do not pour cold almond milk into very hot coffee.
Almond milk is not recommended for people allergic to almonds or nuts.
Taste: Almond milk has a nutty flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. You can use the sweetened version of almond milk in coffee for a smoother taste.
Foam: Almond milk is a good choice for creating silky foam, but it tends to separate when heated like soy milk. When latte art is made using almond milk, the top of the drink’s frothy layer may appear nice, but it will be watery underneath.
Nutrition: Almond milk is lower in calories than other milk, as long as it’s unsweetened. It’s also cholesterol-free and lacks saturated fat. Almonds are a good source of protein, yet almond milk is not. Although almond milk is a good source of calcium. However, many almond milk varieties are enhanced with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
This is another nut milk that mimics cow’s milk due to its creamy texture but at a higher price. Cashew nuts are more expensive than other, more popular, and easy-to-find nuts, so they may be costlier. Homemade cashew milk has a better flavor and steams more effectively.
Taste: Cashew milk has a slightly sweet flavor than other plant-based options and is less nutty, without the bitterness of the others. The consistency was rather thin, so if you enjoy creamy coffee, you may not be a big fan of it.
Foam: When it comes to steaming, cashew milk has a decent stretch, but its bubbles are larger, resulting in a less dense foam than dairy milk and a more bubble bath texture.
Nutrition: The protein content of cashew milk is also low, as well as calories. It has no cholesterol or saturated fat, so switching to cashew milk (and other milk alternatives) may help reduce cholesterol levels. Vitamins E and A are also present in it.
Rice milk is a combination of milled rice and water. It frequently includes additives to improve consistency and shelf durability, as with other non-dairy milk. It is a popular option for coffee drinkers with nut allergies and those who are lactose intolerant.
Rice milk does not, in any form or shape, have a creamy texture, so if you’re searching for a substitute for cow’s milk with a non-dairy alternative, rice milk isn’t the answer.
Taste: Rice milk is neutral in flavor and bland, which enables the flavor of the coffee to shine through. It’s also watery, which might dilute your brew.
Foam: It’s not suitable for the specialty coffees we’re used to. It lacks protein to form bubbles, so it doesn’t create the foamy texture you desire.
Nutrition: Rice milk is one of the least likely dairy alternatives to cause allergies. Because of this, it’s a good choice for individuals with lactose intolerance or who are allergic to milk, soy, or nuts. Rice milk is not a good source of protein. It is often fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. It’s high in carbohydrates, so it’s the least appealing option for those with diabetes or looking to keep blood sugars stable.
There you have it! Our full guide on the best milk alternative for coffee.
As more and more people search for hearty substitutes to dairy, the markets have become saturated with creamy non-dairy alternatives.
Vegan milks are here to stay, and with so many options available, selecting the best alternative milk for coffee is simply a matter of taste. There is no such thing as the ideal milk for everyone. The flavor, nutritional value, and cost of these options can vary considerably, so it might be tricky to determine which one is best for you.
The best choice will depend on what you’re looking for – do you want something rich and creamy like whole cow’s milk? Or would you prefer a non-dairy option with fewer calories?
Be sure to try a few to see which ones are your favorites!
Taimoor followed his passion to become a coffee connoisseur and now travels the world to visit the most popular coffee shops. His cupboard is also stocked with a collection of brewing gadgets. He loves to drink Death Wish Coffee’s dark roast and highly caffeinated coffee grounds when he needs a boost of energy.