Milk and coffee are a match made in heaven.
From a glug of creamy milk in your morning americano to that bubbly airy foam on top of your afternoon latte – it’s a romance that we hope never dies.
But what happens when that romance is interrupted by a dairy intolerance, lifestyle change or environmental issues?!
Once upon a time, if you had a dairy allergy or simply wanted to opt for a different option and change up your latte routine, soy was your only choice.
Fast forward a decade or two, and we are now officially in an alternative plant milk era. In fact, the global non-dairy milk market is projected to reach revenue of more than €38 billion by 2024!
With more options than ever, it can be intimidating to figure out which alternative plant milk is for you. Each option has a different flavour, consistency, and goes best with different kinds of drinks.
To help you navigate the world of dairy-free options for your coffee, we’ve put together a handy alternative plant milk guide.
What’s so different about Alternative Plant Milk?
The structure of the coffee is usually the most significant problem flagged by those using dairy-free milk.
Significant temperature changes, the acidity of the coffee and the mechanical impact of frothing can all easily result in a plant milk curdling.
The good news is that the heat tolerance of dairy-free milk can be improved by heating them to a slightly lower temperature than cow’s milk to prevent curdling. Some people even add a splash of cold plant milk to their coffee beforehand, which cools the coffee a little before it comes in contact with the hot milk.
How to choose the right Alternative Plant Milk for you
There are three main factors you need to think about when choosing your milk alternative:
- Taste: If it doesn’t taste good, what’s the point, right? Just like cow’s milk, dairy-free milk can also affect the flavour of the coffee. The choice comes down to your particular taste and whether you enjoy strong or light flavours.
- Texture: You want the texture of your milk alternative to be creamy and smooth, and ideally the same “weight” as the coffee to avoid weakening the flavour.
Stretch: This refers to the milk’s ability to foam up and create those delicious bubbles found in your latte or cappuccino.
Soy Milk: The Best Alternative Plant Milk for Envious Foam Action
Starting with perhaps the most well-known variety of alternative milk, soy milk is made from ground-up soybeans, which are then boiled and strained.
As the OG go-to option for dairy-free drinkers, soy is known for its relatively neutral taste and powerful foam making abilities.
Goes Best With: Your morning Cappuccino
Almond Milk: The Best Alternative Plant Milk for a Sweet-Tooth
Tasting nutty and sweet, almond milk is made simply from ground almond or almond butter and water and is available in sweetened and unsweetened varieties.
Unfortunately, almond milk can often curdle in coffee due to temperature and acidity.
To combat this, avoid pouring cold almond milk into very hot coffee.
Goes Best With: Flavoured lattes
Oat Milk: The Best Alternative Plant Milk for Texture & Taste
Hands up if you can remember the oat milk shortage of 2019?!
Made from a mixture of oats and water, Oat milk is one of the fullest bodied non-dairy milk on the market with a richness that rivals whole dairy milk. It’s slightly more neutral than almond milk meaning the coffee isn’t overpowered, therefore making it a total crowd-pleaser among coffee fanatics.
Oat milk has a smooth, creamy texture, especially when steamed to create milky coffee and it pairs beautifully with bitter undertones of strong coffee and espresso.
Goes Best With: Hot or iced lattes and cortados
Brands To Try: Oatly Barista and Minor Figures
Coconut Milk: The Best Alternative Plant Milk for the Health Concious
Coconut milk, made from the juice and flesh of brown coconuts and when used in coffee, can bring a tropical twist to your beverage without adding artificial flavours. The naturally dense consistency of this non-dairy milk also won’t water down your coffee.
Using coconut milk in your morning cuppa can also have some added health benefits. Coconut has a lot of vitamins and nutrients that strengthen the immune system and promote overall wellness. It can also help regulate blood sugar, so you’re less likely to see a “crash” after your coffee caffeine has worn off.
Goes Best With: Superfood or iced lattes
What’s the alternative for these alternatives?
With the rise in veganism and increased concern for the environment, it’s clear that the consumption of cow’s milk is on the decline. Studies by Oxford University have recently found that producing just one glass of dairy results in almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any kind of vegan milk!
With stats like these, the industry certainly doesn’t seem to be showing any sign of slowing down. After all, just five years ago, it would have been unusual for a coffee shop to offer more than one milk alternative, and now new and exciting additions such as pea, cashew, macadamia and hemp are entering the market.
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- The Art of Building A Coffee Ritual At Home
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