A lot of people love to drink their coffee as it comes – black, with absolutely nothing in it. And there are people who enjoy their coffee with a shot of cream, milk or non-dairy milk.
Non-dairy milk tends to be either nut-based or plant-based, both of which are vegan and come from multiple sources. And while it’s great that there are so many options out there, it’s hard to know which is the best vegan milk for coffee, especially specialty coffee like that which you get from Blue Coffee Box.
That’s why today we’re going to talk about the various types of non-dairy milk – their flavours and drawbacks – so you can decide which one is best for you and your brew.
Best plant-based milks for coffee
Soy milk is a well-known milk alternative. It’s a preferred choice for those who are lactose intolerant and suffer from nut allergies. Some people find soy milk to be a great neutral-flavoured milk that works well with coffee. However, others find it has an overwhelming cardboard taste. If you haven’t already, it’s probably best to taste it to see if you like its flavour or not.
We’ve found soy milk pairs well with coffees of South American origin that have a fruity undertone.
One of the key drawbacks of soy milk is that it can often curdle when mixed with coffee. This results in it forming an unpleasant taste and texture.
Why does soy milk curdle in coffee?
There are two reasons why soy milk curdles in coffee. Firstly, because coffee is acidic, and this can cause the soy milk to rapidly change from a liquid to a solid or semi-solid tofu-like state. Secondly, temperature can accelerate this process, and so hot coffee and cold soy milk (in fact, this is true for most plant-based milks) results in the milk curdling.
So what can you do? How do we make coffee with soy milk without it curdling? Our suggestions are that you:
- be selective with your brand choice
- and slowly pour the coffee into the soy milk (not the other way around as is often down), so that the soy milk slowly increases in temperature to match the temperature of the coffee
Oat milk is another plant-based milk that has steadily grown in popularity in specialty coffee shops. It’s a great vegan option that has a neutral flavour which doesn’t overpower the coffee.
We’re going to be bold here and say that pretty much any coffee you want will taste good with oat milk.
Of course, the main drawback with oat milk is that, like soy milk, there’s a risk of it separating or curdling when it comes into contact with hot coffee. Just follow our suggestions above and you’ll be fine! (Plus, you can use it to make yourself a delicious cold brew coffee.)
Best nut-based milks for coffee
There are many varieties of almond milk, so the flavour can change depending on the variety. That being said, it often tends to have a nutty, creamy flavour. We’ve found that it pairs well with lightly roasted coffee. Our recommendation is you avoid choosing a coffee with high acidity – the same old curdling problems might arise, resulting in the coffee tasting sour and unpleasant.
Cashew Milk and Coconut Milk
The last two non-dairy milks we’re going to look at are cashew and coconut milk.
Cashew milk has a milder flavour than almond milk. It’s naturally sweeter as well, but it can still overwhelm your coffee. Not only that, it doesn’t foam as well as the other non-dairy milks we’ve discussed. And it can be more expensive.
Coconut milk has a sweet, distinctive flavour, and because it’s full of saturated fat, it can be rich and creamy. However, it can mask your coffee flavour, and is too watery to create a delicious foam top. If you want coconut-flavoured milk, then we recommend you try using oat milk or almond milk flavoured with coconut for that perfect coconut coffee taste.
How to make frothy milk
To make sure your coffee has a lovely foam top, we suggest you steam the non-dairy milk at a lower temperature than you would with regular dairy milk, as it takes longer time for them to get that frothy texture. You also want to make sure you don’t overheat the non-dairy milk. They continue to heat up after they’ve been steamed, so it’s probably advisable to stop steaming around 55° Celsius.
Brand does matter when it comes to using non-dairy milk in your coffee. Make sure to look in different supermarkets and to check the ingredients. If you are not sure what brand would work best, visit a specialty coffee shop, order a coffee with your milk of choice and then ask the barista what they used.
We hope you’ve found this post useful, and that you now know your favourite and best non-dairy milk for coffee (or that you’re eager to go try them all out with a quality coffee subscription!).