A turn-off for many potential vegans is the thought of having to give up dairy milk in their coffee. Will that frothy cappuccino ever be the same without milk? In short—yes.
There is a range of plant-based milk options which are dairy-free and suitable for a vegan diet. Many of these vegan milks are creamy and even froth like dairy milk, so your coffee can taste just as heavenly as you remember.
Just be careful and ensure you read the labels on store-bought milk products as some have nutrients that are derived from things such as lanolin (sheep wool), or bone. “Lactose-Free” doesn’t always mean dairy-free or vegan. If this is confusing or too much hassle, you can easily whip up a batch of your own plant-milk.
The 9 Best Vegan Milks for Coffee
1. Oat Milk
Oats are high in protein and fiber and have properties that reduce stress, making them the perfect base for your next cup of joe. This option is probably the closest to dairy in terms of texture and taste, and it froths well. If you’re gluten-free, you may want to make your own using gluten-free oats as store-bought options will commonly contain gluten. Oat milk is also very budget-friendly and economical when made at home.
2. Pea Milk
This option may sound a little peculiar but it is a recent trend that is beginning to catch on. Brands such as Ripple are using peas to create plant-based milk due to their high protein content and nutritional benefits. It is said that pea milk is healthier than common dairy alternatives such as almond or soy, and closely mimics the taste of dairy milk. This milk uses golden peas so it isn’t the green liquid that you might expect.
3. Hemp Milk
This milk is a growingly popular and healthy option for those ditching dairy. Similar to soy milk in terms of consistency (except creamier), and similar to almond milk in terms of flavor, this is a good combination of the two that delivers a whole host of nutrients. Despite popular misconception, hemp milk is not made from marijuana as it does not contain enough THC to have psychoactive properties.
4. Almond Milk
Some say almond milk is better consumed on its own or in smoothies rather than in coffee, as sometimes this option can turn bitter in coffee thanks to a chemical reaction. But if a bitter coffee is your thing then how perfect! Alternatively, a hearty dose of sweetener will do the trick. Almond milk has a higher fat content than some plant-based options so it froths up well, like dairy milk.
5. Rice Milk
This milk has a lower fat content than a nut or coconut milk, so while it doesn’t froth up as well, the taste is more neutral, less overpowering, and very pleasant. Unlike dairy milk, rice milk contains no lactose or cholesterol, however, it does have more carbohydrates. When comparing most rice milks with dairy milk, rice milk is lower in calories.
6. Soy Milk
Soy milk is a great choice because it is very prevalent as a dairy-free option in cafes and eateries; it is quite rare for venues not to offer at least a soy option. This milk froths up well, is forgiving, and can complement different coffees nicely, however, not everyone is fan of the taste. Despite the criticism and bad reputation of soy, this shunned bean actually boasts some great health benefits.
7. Coconut Milk
Due to coconut milk being high in fat, it froths up a lot, like cow’s milk. Cartons are generally better to use than canned coconut milk as the canned variety – often not created to be drank – is better for baking. However, buying a can of full-fat coconut cream and blending it with water to make your own coconut milk is an economical option.
8. Quinoa Milk
Quite possibly the edgiest and unusual milk so far, this option has a rather unexpected taste that is either loved or hated. Quinoa is a rich source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, therefore, quinoa milk has a high protein content too. If making homemade quinoa milk, it is advisable to use cooked quinoa because raw quinoa has a saponin coating, and requires thorough washing to use.
9. Walnut Milk
Walnuts have a number of health benefits. They are high in polyunsaturated fats—especially omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote a strong heart. They’re also packed with minerals, including copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and molybdenum.