Guide to Alternative Milk and Coffee
As more and more people turn to diets and lifestyles free of animal products, coffee lovers may find themselves searching for a dairy-free alternative to the splash of milk that they typically add to their brew. While it is now fairly easy to find a milk alternative, cows milk does add a particular taste and texture to your coffee that not all dairy-free milk will be able to replicate. As well as this, some alternative milk will add further complexity and depth to the flavour of your favourite drink, so selecting the right milk type to suit your taste preferences is crucial to enjoying the perfect cup!
While you may think that any alternative will do, there are some factors you must consider when selecting the milk. For example, not all milk alternatives will be able to produce foam when steamed for drinks such as lattes or cappuccinos. A good level of protein is needed within the milk to produce this foam, and some alternatives, such as rice milk, will not contain enough protein to create a decent foam. We take a look at a few of the different options available and what each offers.
Soy milk is perhaps the most commonly found milk alternative and has been available as an option in many coffee shops for several years. It can often prove to be one of the cheaper alternative milk types, making it an attractive choice for many. Soy milk offers a creamy and smooth addition to your drink, without adding any extra flavour to the coffee, which some prefer. Baristas like using soy milk, as it can produce a foam quite similar to that made using dairy milk. However, there are some potential downsides to using soy. The heat of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, or the acidity from the drink, can cause the soy milk to curdle or separate, making a less than appealing sip! This can be overcome by warming the soy a little and slowly adding in the coffee to it.
Oat milk is fast becoming one of the most popular milk alternatives in the coffee world as its fuller-bodied texture comes pretty close to that of whole dairy milk. Unlike whole cow’s milk, however, oat milk is lower in fat and contains fibre, making it a healthier option that is great for giving the digestive system a boost! As well as this, the full-bodied and smooth texture of this milk allows your coffee to taste and feel as creamy as it would with full-fat milk. As oat milk has less protein than dairy milk, foam produced will typically feature bigger bubbles, but it will still be sufficient for creating some great latte art! A firm favourite amongst dairy-free coffee lovers has to be Oatly's Oat Drink Barista Edition, which is not too sweet or heavy, and is fully foamable, allowing for some pretty impressive lattes to be created!
Another popular milk choice, almond milk introduces extra flavours to the cup with a nutty hint that pairs excellently with most coffees. Almond milk can be found in sweetened or unsweetened and roasted or unroasted varieties, giving you a greater range of choice for the coffee experience you wish to enjoy. Like soy milk, adding almond milk to hot coffee can cause curdling, so letting the coffee cool for a moment before adding the milk can be a good idea.
While lactose intolerances and vegan lifestyles are turning more people towards alternative milk, other common allergens such as soy and nuts mean that rice milk is becoming an increasingly popular addition to coffee. Offering a neutral taste, adding rice milk to your drink will not affect the flavour, allowing you to experience the full impact of your coffee. However, rice milk is far thinner than many other types of milk, so cannot provide the creaminess or foam that is sought by coffee drinkers.
Coconut milk is a fairly thick alternative milk that can add some extra layers of flavour to your coffee. Coconut offers a distinctive sweet taste that some love, but others find too overpowering for their chosen coffee blend. However, for those looking for a flavoured coffee without turning to syrups or artificial flavourings, coconut milk can be a great choice. Coconut milk is also enjoyed due to its consistency, which is thicker than many other non-dairy milk, so won’t make your coffee too watered down.
Hemp milk can be a great substitute for cow’s milk, yet it is one of the least commonly available alternatives. Hemp provides a thin milk that presents subtle nut and vegetal flavours; however, its high level of protein is sufficient for producing a decent foam. While traces of THC can be found in the hemp plant, no psychoactive effects would be experienced from drinking hemp milk!
With a creamy texture to rival cow’s milk, cashew milk offers a great alternative for coffee drinkers. Cashew milk is slightly sweeter and has a less nutty taste than other nut milk, such as almond or hazelnut. Cashew milk can be steamed; however, the bubbles tend to be larger than with dairy milk, making it far less dense.
Made from the protein of yellow peas, pea milk has a strong protein level that makes it great for producing foam for drinks and latte art. Luckily, this alternative milk does not taste of peas at all, instead presenting a smooth and neutral sip. Made from yellow peas, the milk also does not have a green colour, which you may expect from hearing that is made of peas, allowing you to have a normal looking cup of coffee!
As many types of non-dairy milk can be kept out of the fridge when unopened, alternative milk also offers a great solution for coffee drinkers on the go, as you can bring along a carton and enjoy its fresh taste when you’re ready for a break without worrying about it spoiling! If you are looking for a way to create perfectly brewed coffee while out and about, then our travel coffee maker is the ideal choice for you!
Of course, while the milk is an important aspect of a good cup of coffee, the coffee beans themselves are the essential ingredient! Read our previous blog to discover how to select the right coffee beans for you.