Vegans and those suffering from lactose intolerance both have the same issue. They need to find a decent alternative to dairy milk for their coffees. If this is a situation you find yourself in, you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of fabulous options out there. So without further ado, let’s dive into them in greater detail!
You may have heard of plant-based milk referred to as ‘mylk.‘ If so, don’t let that confuse you, because they mean the same thing. Many of these are incredibly creamy, which make them ideal for creating a luxuriously frothy latte.
Top Tip: if you’re a vegan, always read the labels exceptionally carefully. Some possess nutrients such as lanolin which is derived from sheep wool, or bone. This means ‘Lactose-Free’ doesn’t automatically mean it’s vegan-friendly.
Now we’ve covered that; we can delve into our favorite kinds of plant milk for coffee:
Not only is oat milk beautifully creamy, but it’s also high in protein and fiber. Oat milk also boasts stress-reducing properties- which can never be a bad thing!
Out of all the milk listed here, this is probably the one that resembles dairy milk the most- both in its texture and taste. The best way to describe oat milk is thick and buttery. It’s just like cow’s milk after it’s sat in shredded wheat cereal for a while. I don’t know about you, but I always find this flavor delicious! In addition to the fabulous taste and texture, it also froths up well, which makes it a baristas delight!
Oatly is one of the best store-bought brands for oat milk. This company is pushing really hard to gain a reputation as the best non-dairy milk on the market, which given all the above shouldn’t be too hard!
You should note: most store-bought oat milk contains gluten, so if you have an intolerance, be cautious. However, you can easily make oat milk at home, not only does this ensure it meets your dietary requirements, but it’s also the more inexpensive option.
This may sound a tad unorthodox, but this kind of non-dairy milk is becoming more and more popular due to its nutritional benefits. When golden peas are used to create this substance, you get the creamy color you’d expect in a latte.
If you’re looking for a reputable brand of pea milk, you can’t go wrong with Ripple. This store-bought milk is made primarily of the pea protein ‘ripptien’ In addition to, sunflower oil, organic cane sugar, and algal oil. Alternatively, Bolthouse Farms is another reputable brand of pea milk. It’s a tad sweeter than Ripple so if you prefer that in a coffee, this milk might be the perfect option for you.
One of the best things about pea milk is its consistency. Plus, the flavor isn’t too overpowering. It doesn’t have the ‘required’ taste symbolic of other plant-based milk. This is especially true when its used in coffees. Pea milk doesn’t taint the flavor profile as much as other nut milk.
Also, pea milk is one of the healthiest milk on the market. It contains as much as eight grams of protein for every eight ounces of milk. Plus it’s jam-packed full of nutritious vitamins and minerals.
This dairy-free milk is gorgeously thick and smooth and balances incredibly well when its paired with coffee. Consequently, making for a delightful latte. Macadamia milk boasts a tart, almost fruity flavor, which gives the milk a sweeter edge. This kind of milk showcases a subtle enough flavor for you to use in your everyday coffee. In our opinion, it’s definitely worth giving a try!
If you prefer bitter coffee, then almond milk is a great option. If not, you’re better off giving it a miss. Occasionally, this substance has been known to undergo a chemical reaction that provides coffee a bitter tang.
Alternatively, if you wish to counteract the bitterness that comes with almond milk, you can add a liberal dose of sweetener. However, despite its sharper twang, it boasts a high-fat content. This allows it to froth up just like skimmed dairy milk- making it a fabulous consistency for lattes.
If you’re looking for a reliable brand of almond milk to sample, then you shouldn’t go too far wrong with Almond Breeze. This tends to be a great option. However, one of the main issues with almond milk is that it’s thinner in comparison to other plant-based milk like soy. If you find that store-bought almond milk is too watery, then try making your own (more instructions on this towards the end of this blog post!).
Although walnut milk isn’t widely available, it’s one of the better nut milk out there. Elmhurst has paved the way when it comes to its commercialization and has produced a fabulous product for coffee lovers to enjoy. The texture is as thick as chocolate milk and has a luxuriously pungent flavor resembling toasted walnuts- which is nothing short of delightful.
When mixed with coffee, the flavor of the walnut milk is enhanced. You can really taste the woody notes infusing within the hot drink. This makes for a gorgeous latte and a tasty treat. However, walnut milk is probably a little too creamy to consume daily, which means you may want to find simpler milk for regular coffee drinking.
Unfortunately, this milk boasts a lower fat content, so it doesn’t froth up well. However, the taste is far more neutral than other plant-based milk- like, almond milk. Its subtle flavor allows for an all-around pleasant coffee drinking experience. However, some would suggest the aftertaste resembles wheatier-tasting milk- not there’s anything wrong with that!
Despite its fabulous flavor, it’s not the easiest of milk to use. You’ll need a lot of practice to get the quantities right. Typically, you’ll need far more than you’d expect (even after pouring a hefty amount in). On the whole, ‘usual amounts’ won’t impact the flavor of the coffee as you’d want it to.
Unlike dairy milk, rice milk doesn’t contain lactose or cholesterol which makes it a healthier option. It also boasts fewer calories- so it’s a popular choice amongst those trying to lose weight. It doesn’t matter whether you go for brown rice milk or the regular kind, the taste and consistency is broadly the same.
As you start exploring the array of non-dairy milk available to you, you’ll eventually come across peanut milk. This isn’t the best milk to use in your latte. It’s reported to have an almost grassy taste, with just a whiff of peanut as an aftertaste- also, to many people’s surprise it’s purple. This someone alters the aesthetic of a traditional coffee.
Soy milk is a practical option. It’s probably the most popular of all the non-dairy milk on the market. Soy milk is commonly used in most coffee shops, cafes, and is stocked in almost every grocery store. It’s now pretty rare for eateries not to offer a soy option.
If you’re perusing the aisles looking for a reputable brand of commercial soy milk, you should try Silk. This is a great starting point!
The beauty of soy milk is that it froths up incredibly well and it’s renowned for complementing a plethora of different coffees as well as possessing numerous health benefits. However, some baristas report that steaming soy milk’s relatively hard because it’s prone to washing out and clumping. Plus, not everyone enjoys the taste. It’s somewhat of an acquired flavor so if you grew up drinking it; you’re sure to love it. Whereas, if you didn’t, you may have to work pretty hard to learn to enjoy it.
Unsurprisingly, banana milk is made from bananas. However, the dash of cinnamon added to store-bought milk such as Moala make the taste of banana milk beautifully sweet. To say this milk has a distinctive taste would be an understatement- it has one of the most unique flavors of all the milk highlighted in this list.
Admittedly banana milk is probably best for smoothies and baking. However, if you enjoy a sweeter latte with a cinnamony tang, this is a fabulous option.
The best way to describe cashew milk is similar to almond milk.
Top Tip: If you’re after authentic cashew milk in your local store, check the labels first. Often commercialized cashew milk is mixed with other nut milk- which is fine, just make sure you know what you’re buying!
One of the benefits of cashew milk is that it’s sweeter than almond milk. Plus, it also has a milder, nutty taste. However, its primary drawback is that it’s even thinner than almond milk. Also, baristas report that when it’s steamed, it produces large, soap-like bubbles.
If you’re looking for a brand of cashew nut milk to try, then we recommend Elmhurst’s Cashew Milk. This seems to be one of the best on the market
You should note: like most other nut milk, cashew nut milk is also somewhat of an acquired taste.
Just like cow’s milk, coconut milk also has a very high-fat content which makes it perfect for a frothy latte.
Top Tip: when purchasing coconut milk, the cartons tend to be better for creating coffees than the cans.
Handy Hack: You can create your own coconut milk by buying a can of full-fat coconut cream and mixing it in water. This is usually a far more cost-effective option!
Quinoa milk is a bit like marmite, you either love the taste or you hate it. So, give it a whirl and see what you think! On the upside, it’s a rich source of protein.
Many people have said that flax milk could easily replace almond milk. If you’re looking for store-bought flax milk, that’s well balanced in coffee and boasts a suitable thickness; then Good Karma is a great brand to try. Also, the slight aftertaste of the flaxseed is significant, but it’s not too overpowering. When you compare it to almond milk, it has a much milder flavor.
Flax milk does an excellent job of reducing the temperature and bitterness of coffee without adding too much of its own distinctive flavor. This makes Flax milk an ideal choice for those who don’t like their lattes overly sweet.
Hazelnut milk has a beautifully strong yet sweet flavor. It’s best described as melted ice cream with hazelnutty overtones that come through in the aftertaste. However, this distinct taste is somewhat lost in the coffee, so if you’re looking for a neutral tasting milk, for your latte, this could be a great option for you.
How Do You Make Your Own Nut Milk?
Making your own nut milk often solves all the typical problems found in store-bought versions. Plus, it’s usually cheaper, and it’s way easier to make than you’d think.
Here are our instructions, if you want to give this a go at home:
- All you need to do is select the unsalted nuts of your choice (for example, almonds) These can either be raw or roasted. Then cover them in water and leave them to soak overnight.
- Once they’ve finished soaking, drain the water away and rinse the nuts thoroughly. Then, put one cup of these nuts into a blender in addition to one and ¾ cups of water.
- Now, you’re ready to blend these together to create a puree. This should only take between three and five minutes.
- Now strain this mixture through a cheesecloth, and squeeze it tight until all that’s left is damp nut flour.
- Now, put the remaining milk into the blender (I got my blender with an offer by buying the best clothes steamer on the internet). Spritz it on high for 30 seconds.
- Don’t be surprised if the nut milk separates relatively quickly, all you need to do is shake it to re-mix. Be sure to keep this in the fridge in an airtight container and consume it within the week.
When you taste homemade nut milk and compare it to store-bought, you can really notice the difference. The milk you make at home is way more flavorful and steams more like cow’s milk. This makes it far easier to produce a decent latte. If you have the time and resources to make your own, we definitely recommend that you do!
Ultimately, non-dairy milk has become increasingly popular as the choice has gotten more vast. On the whole, this milk falls into one of two categories: milk that blends into your coffee, and milk that has a more distinctive flavor profile. If you’re a homebrewer searching for plant-based milk for your latte, you should experiment with a few of the milk listed above. This is the only way to find the one that complements your palette best.
If you’re looking for a flavorful alternative to the more common soy and almond milk, you might want to try hazelnut, banana, or walnut milk. These all provide something unique for a more flavorful coffee. However, they’re all a lot richer- so they might not be ideal for everyday use.
However, you should be warned that to get good results with any non-dairy milk; you’ll need a lot of practice. It’ll take plenty of time to achieve both a high-quality taste and texture when steaming plant-based milk.
Whereas, if you’re running a coffee shop or an eaterie we suggest stocking a few options to ensure you cater to all the needs of your consumers. These days, more and more people are on special diets, which means they need for a diverse range of non-dairy options has never been higher.
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Gordon is seriously addicted to coffee. He also likes to write. Match made in heaven? Yes. After years of boring casual coffee drinkers to death with bean origin stories, he took to writing publicly here at 2Caffeinated.