We got a request for a post about the best dairy alternative for brewed coffee. We didn’t look at dairy replacements for espresso-based drinks, because some of those have added gums, emulsifiers and fats that help with steaming, frothing and latte art. If you have issues with the milk alternatives curdling, you may need to try the “creamer” version of these plant milks. Another tip is not to pour the milk into the coffee until it cools a little.
When brewing specialty coffee, we always recommend to at least try the coffee black first, and if you really need to then you can add milk. So, with that disclaimer out of the way, some people just like a little milk in their coffee, so what are the best options? Another way to avoid curdling is to add the milk in first and slowly add the coffee, for those of you committed to drinking coffee with milk.
First thing is why do you want a dairy alternative? Is it for sustainability & environmental reasons? Lactose intolerance? Trying to lower calories? Are you going vegan? Allergies? That will help you pick from the options below.
Second, we only wanted look at options that were unsweetened and would not change the flavor of the coffee. For example, we did not look at hazelnut, coconut or hemp milk because that has natural flavoring and we wanted something as similar to milk as possible in taste and texture. There is lots of information out there about the sustainability and water usage of these alternatives, feel free to check those out, but essentially all of them have less environmental impact than the production of cow’s milk.
Third, it had to be easy to find. Things we could find at our local supermarket or available for delivery with Amazon Prime/Fresh.
Soy milk, almond milk and rice milk have been around for a while, none really serve as a good milk replacement for brewed coffee. They are too watery and tend to curdle unless you buy the creamer version. Also, from a taste and texture perspective, we don’t find them to be suitable alternatives to cow’s milk. If you’re looking for protein, cow’s milk and soy milk offer the best choice.
The two we recommend are oat milk and cashew milk for options that best mimic the taste and texture of adding cow’s milk to brewed coffee. Oat milk is thick, rich and tastes the most like dairy, if you are worried about calories go for the cashew milk which is a little more watery.
You can also try macadamia milk as a third and slightly harder to find option, it adds more of its own flavor and sweetness than the other two and is a little more watery.
There are links below to the specific products we looked at.
As you can see oat milk has about as many calories as 2% cow’s milk, but less than whole milk. Highest in calories and fat of the alternatives.
Cashew milk has far less calories and fat than oat milk or cow’s milk.
Here is the nutritional information for macadamia milk. It is in between oat and cashew milk for calories and fat.
The following are for reference/comparison:
Here is the nutritional information for whole milk.
Here is the nutritional information for 2% milk.
Here is the nutritional information for 1% milk.
Here is the nutritional information for unsweetened soy milk.
Here is the nutritional information for almond milk.