So having just sat down in front of the laptop with my coffee I thought it would be a good time to write an article about the various plant based milk alternatives that are available and tell you what I think is the best vegan milk in coffee.
Over my seven years as a vegan I have tried just about all of the plant based milks that are available and the truth is most of them have their pros and cons in terms of taste, texture, nutrients and even availability.
However with more and more people becoming aware of the reality of dairy, the negative impact it has on our health and the environment and the unnecessary suffering that is endured by so many dairy cattle and their offspring, it’s no wonder that more people are turning to plant based options.
More vegan options than ever
The good news for us however is that there are now more options than ever to choose from.
So if you already vegan but looking for an alternative, or maybe you are looking to change to a plant based diet but wondering what milk options you have. Or of course it could be you are one of the 65% of the adult population that has a reduced ability to digest lactose and are just looking to give up milk.
Either way read on and I’m sure we will find a super tasty vegan milk alternative for you to try.
Not all plants are equal!
So before we look at the options individually one thing that it is important to stress is that not all brands of the same type of plant milk will necessary taste the same.
Similarly it maybe that you prefer one type of plant milk say on your cereals and another in your coffee. So in this test it is the latter I am going to focus on, finding the best vegan milk in coffee. Ok so what are the alternatives?
So let’s start with soya probably the most popular of all plant based milks and certainly the one you are most likely to find in mainstream coffee shops.
Soya is rich in protein and low in saturated fat. It has a slightly nutty flavour and blends really well as a milk alternative for cooking. For me however the nutty taste has always changed the flavour of my coffee slightly more than I like although, like anything, I’m sure I would get used to it.
I also found that soya has a tendency to split after it’s been in your cup more than a few minutes meaning I would have to continually stir it. To be fair this doesn’t happen as much in a coffee shop which could be down to the way it is heated. If I do buy soya for my coffee my favourite is Alpros Organic Unsweetened Wholebean.
Next on my list is almond milk which is now up there with soya as one of the most popular plant based milk alternatives. I really love almond milk, it is slightly sweet and creamy but of course has the nutty flavour you would expect.
It’s highly nutritious although contains lower levels of protein than soya. It is also super easy to make your own and we will shortly be linking a make your own guide in here. Ok, so I said I love it and I do, as a drink or just poured over cereals or to use in baking, however in my coffee, well not so much.
Again it tends to change the flavour more than I like just making my coffee to nutty. Do bear in mind though that the different brands of almond milk will have different flavours depending on their content. My favourite is Innocent Almond Dairy Free which I love as a drink but as for the best vegan milk in coffee well I’m afraid it’s not my favourite.
The first thing to say is that we are of course referring to the huge rage of coconut milk drinks that are available not to the coconut milk that comes in a can and is made directly from the flesh of the coconut.
Coconut milk is lower in protein and overall nutrients than almond milk but is full of healthy fats. It’s a great vegan milk alternative for deserts and curries, however for my coffee it comes pretty close to bottom of the class for a few reasons.
The first and most important of course is the taste, for me coconut milk always overwhelmed the coffee flavour. It also doesn’t mix well with coffee with just about every brand I have tried the milk rises to the top.
I have found one coconut milk which I love as a drink and if I had no other alternative would use in my coffee and that is Rebel Kitchen Milk. It is not solely a coconut milk in that it combines coconut milk with rice milk and cashew nut milk but this combination does at least mix better and have a slightly less coconut flavour.
Rice milk is made by blending boiled rice with some type of sweetener usually brown rice syrup. It is a light refreshing drink and is great for baking due to its sweet flavour, although as it is so light often a thickener will be required. Frequently in taste tests it comes out on top as the plant based milk that most tastes like diary.
Unfortunately for me and my coffee test it does little to add to the flavour. Its watery texture and slightly sweet taste means that it leaves the coffee almost black just adding a sweetness. For that reason it comes at the bottom of my list of plant based milks for my coffee.
As a refreshing drink however I did recently try the organic brown rice drink by Rude Health and absolutely loved it. It won’t be going near my coffee but will certainly be in my fridge!
Yes that’s right the same hemp which is used to make marijuana. The milk however is made from the seeds which of course don’t contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of marijuana.
In fact hemp milk is an excellent source of protein containing nine essential amino acids as well as being high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids making it one of the best plant based milk alternatives for both. Hemp milk has a sweet, nutty taste and although friends had told me it had a watery texture I found it quite the opposite being quite creamy with a slight nutty flavour that I really like.
I have to be honest and say we haven’t cooked with it but I was quite pleased with how it mixed with my coffee adding just a slightly creamy nutty flavour. The brand I tried was by Good Hemp and was the original made from organic hemp seeds. So was it my best vegan milk in coffee? Well no but only because for me the winner was so far ahead of the rest.
Ok so the last on my list of vegan milks and one that shows the difference that there can be between different brands of the same kind of milk is oat milk. I first tried oat milk in my coffee many years ago. I honestly don’t remember the brand or exactly the flavour but I do remember that I wasn’t overly impressed.
Oat milk is made by soaking the hulled oats in water. The end result is slightly sweet drink that contains lower levels of proteins and fats than hemp and soya. Oat milk does however contain beta-glucan which is found in oat fibre and can actually lower blood cholesterol levels. An average glass will also give you around 15 per cent of your recommended daily amount of iron.
Ok so back to my coffee test. I noticed the Oatly brand in my local supermarket about 2 years ago and although previously having tried oat milk thought I would give it a go. This was Oatlys organic oat drink which I lightly warmed in a pan and added to my coffee.
I was impressed this was a big improvement on my previous attempt with oat milk, still not perfect but I was very happy with the results. But then boom! A few weeks later I went back to restock and there, next to my normal Oatly organic oat milk was a barista edition produced especially for coffee. Could it be that much different I asked myself, well I guess it was worth a try.
I got home, warmed my milk and added it to my coffee, one word, perfect! it had a creamy texture and light flavour that complemented my coffee perfectly. How they achieved this I really didn’t know (although all the info is on their website) but what I did know was that I had found the perfect plant based milk for my coffee.
As you can probably tell once I had discovered the Oatly Barista edition there was no competition, in-fact I stopped looking for alternatives.
For me there is no close second as they are all quite a way off. As we now live in Spain I do quite often have to make do with Oatlys normal organic oat milk as the barista edition isn’t always available. Behind these would be Good Hemps hemp milk.
Of course if you are thinking of replacing dairy milk in your coffee well, just go for it! But don’t just trust my taste, do your own tests – after all we all have different tastes and preferences, that’s what makes us unique.
Oh, and if you find one you really love be sure to let us know, but until then the best vegan milk in coffee, or at least my coffee, is Oatlys Barista Edition.