A few weeks ago, I accompanied a colleague to look for non-dairy substitutes. She was looking for something that complements her cooking, but I thought this was the perfect chance to look for a milk alternative for my coffee. I love experimenting with my coffee, and I’m growing tired of cow’s milk.
So, if you’re aiming to acquire a new taste for your cup of Joe and still want to retain that creamy and smooth texture, I’d like to share what I think are the best alternatives to milk in coffee!
1. Coconut Milk
I’ve been a coconut milk advocate since my brother had me try this. It’s natural thickness and creamy features are perfect for those who have a tropical taste. It’s great for either hot or iced coffee, so you’re covered for whatever you’re craving.
This substitute is suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant or vegan. I recommend So Delicious’ Coconut Milk for first-timers. If you’re looking for another coconut drink to brighten your day, how about making yourself a coconut coffee by following our step-by-step recipe?
- This delicious beverage goes great over cereal, in coffee, mixed into recipes and poured into a tall glass.
- 32 fl oz (Pack of 6); Non-GMO Project Verified
- Certified gluten-free, soy-free
- Certified vegan
- Made with organic coconut
2. Ice Cream
It’s Friday night, and you feel like staying up and binge-watching. Instead of diving into that pint of ice cream, how about putting a scoop in your coffee instead?
It all comes down to the flavors. Of course, you can never go wrong with chocolate but if you want to double the dose, go for coffee-flavored ones! If you’re going to try something more exotic, I recommend looking for a taro flavor, as its earthy taste blends well with coffee.
Here’s a tip – try snacking on ice cream cones while enjoying this homemade affogato. You won’t regret it. If you’re avoiding dairy altogether, there are tons of plant-based options available made from almonds, oats, and more.
3. Soy Milk
This is one of the most challenging substitutes on the list, but still worth trying. Soy milk has a naturally sweet flavor that goes well with coffee. If you’re looking to transition to something healthier, this is the alternative for you since soy milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and potassium!
The downside is that it tends to curdle once poured into your hot beverage. I suggest putting soy milk first, then slowly incorporating the coffee and stirring, so it blends well.
You can also heat your soy milk or any non-dairy milk in the microwave for a few seconds first to minimize curdling. Many plant-based milk brands have created “barista” versions of their products that have been formulated to prevent curdling and have a thicker consistency. I recommend trying Pacific’s All-Natural Soy Milk for newbies Pacific’s All-Natural Soy Milk since its texture and creaminess closely resemble your regular milk.
- Pacific Barista Series Original Soy Beverage (Formerly Plain Soy Blenders)
- Consistent, smooth frothy foam
- Withstands the high heat of steaming
- All natural non-dairy beverage
- 6-32 ounce containers, 192 ounces total
4. Whipped Cream
Whipped cream is a common milk alternative made from heavy cream. Regardless, I’ll still include it on my list of alternatives to milk in coffee because it gives your drink a richness that milk can’t offer. Top it off with some cocoa or cinnamon powder.
Again, if you’re cutting out dairy, you can find vegan whipped cream on the market made from soy. The taste and consistency are almost identical to the real thing. If you’re still not convinced, check it out for yourself if you can use whipping cream for coffee.
5. Almond Milk
Almond milk is another dairy-free beverage ideal for lactose-intolerant or those going vegan. You have two options – sweetened or unsweetened – to complement your beverage, but I recommend going for the former for a more natural sweet taste. It doesn’t curdle compared to soy milk, and the nutty flavor it provides goes well with your drink.
Like our other non-dairy alternatives on the list, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals, most especially Vitamin E. Additionally, it contains Vitamin D, calcium, and protein, which makes this substitute closely resemble the nutritional value of your regular milk. If you opt for unsweetened almond milk, you might want to do a taste test to determine if you’d like to add a sugar-free sweetener like Stevia.
This one has an age restriction! Clearly, whiskey is not a direct substitute for milk in coffee, but if you’re looking for a kick during the weekend, then this is something you should try! It isn’t a unique concept since a prominent brand, Jack Daniel’s, has already released whiskey coffee for its patrons.
If you’re unsure, feel free to add some cream or any non-dairy milk substitutes above and make yourself a good old-fashioned Irish Coffee. You can check out our guide on which cream is best for Irish coffee.
7. Rice Milk
You might think rice milk is an odd choice to replace cow’s milk in coffee. However, rice milk has a neutral taste compared to other plant-based milk that won’t get in the way of your cup of Joe. You can appreciate the robust coffee profile while still reducing the bitterness.
Like other non-dairy milk choices, they offer sweetened or unsweetened. If you prefer unsweetened milk, you can still add a dash of maple syrup or sugar-free sweeteners to your drink.
The downside of rice milk is that it can have a watery texture, so it’s typically used to cool down drinks rather than to make a coffee drink with froth like a cappuccino or a latte.
8. Hemp Milk
Again, hemp milk might seem like an odd choice. Before you start imagining your coffee will have a rustic, rope-like flavor, think again. Hemp milk is nutty and slightly sweet; it’s ideal for those with nut and soy allergies who are struggling to find suitable dairy-free milk.
9. Macadamia Milk
For nut milk, macadamia milk is underrated. Unlike some of the other dairy-free milk options, macadamia milk has a heavenly creamy texture – although not as thick as a creamer. Coffee drinkers will love the fruity and vanilla notes it provides.
For added flavor, brands like Milkadamia will add a touch of vanilla. You can also use this milk in smoothies if you’re struggling to get through a whole carton.
10. Pea Milk
You might have already heard a lot about pea protein in other vegan and plant-based products but never considered it in a cup of coffee. The protein content of pea milk is around seven grams per eight-ounce serving, but this can vary per brand. So, you can sip away at your cup of coffee knowing you’re hitting your macro goals.
Pea milk doesn’t taste like vegetables, either! As far as it goes, it’s the best non-dairy milk for achieving that real milk taste. It is creamy and smooth while being low in saturated fat.
11. Coconut Cream
If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative to a milky creamer, you don’t need to overcomplicate it. You might already have coconut cream in your pantry. Not to be confused with coconut water or coconut milk, coconut cream (confusingly, sometimes also called coconut milk) is the thick white paste you find in cans in the grocery store and is used in cooking.
It makes for a creamy cup of Joe with a tropical coconut aftertaste. As the cream and the coconut water tend to separate in the can, always stir your coconut cream thoroughly before adding it to coffee.
Although the fat content is quite high compared to plain coconut milk, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then. Enjoy creamy coffee in moderation.
12. Hazelnut Milk
Hazelnut milk is another plant-based milk alternative that is often overlooked. Hazelnut milk has a refreshing nutty taste with a hint of sweetness. It has a higher protein content than almond milk, so you can incorporate it into your diet to help you meet your daily requirements.
By brewing espresso and running the milk through a frother, you can create a hazelnut latte without the use of syrups and artificial sweeteners. It also makes a delicious cup of hazelnut-flavored hot chocolate.
13. Oat Milk
Oat milk is arguably one of the best milk alternatives for coffee. Although it doesn’t taste identical to cow’s milk, it’s creamy consistency and neutral flavor are a big hit among vegans and the lactose-intolerant.
Unlike some of the other products, it doesn’t impose any odd flavors into your drink, so you can still enjoy the pure coffee taste. However, the quality can vary drastically between brands, with some having a funky aftertaste.
Oat milk has become a common option in coffee shops and it has a perfect consistency for latte art.
14. Cashew Milk
Some coffee drinkers are not a big fan of the nutty taste that comes with most plant-based milk. While still coming from a nut, cashew milk does not taste too strong.
It has a creamy texture but a hint of sourness that makes it perfect for balancing out indulgent drinks brewed with an espresso machine, like a mocha or caramel latte. You can also use it to cool down and soften black coffee at home.
15. Peanut Butter
If you’re nuts about nuts, you can skip the nut milk and go right to peanut butter. The peanut butter will dissolve into your coffee and act similar to a creamer. It imparts a delicious peanut flavor into your brew, but it may be an acquired taste.
Some coffee drinkers will prefer to use this alongside their milk of choice. It’s best to add the peanut butter when the coffee is still pipping hot so it can melt properly.
Always go for smooth peanut butter; otherwise, you will be fishing peanuts out of your drink. It’s also best to stick to high-quality products with minimal ingredients for a more authentic taste.
16. Almond Butter
If you don’t like peanut butter, you can instead add almond butter to your coffee. The premise is pretty much the same; always go for smooth, minimally processed products for the best experience.
Almond butter has a stronger almond flavor compared to milk but does not have the same sweet aftertaste. It’s best for those who prefer savory flavors. With that said, you can combine almond milk and almond butter for a creamy, nutty latte.
17. Coconut Oil
It really seems that coconut and coffee are a match made in heaven. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you might already be well acquainted with coconut oil.
Coconut oil has a mild flavor but can really put a pep in your step as it provides energy. Learn more in our guide on why you should try coconut oil in coffee.
18. Cacao Butter
Although it may be hard to come by, some people even add cacao butter to their coffee. Cacao butter has a heavenly chocolatey aroma and adds some sweetness to your brew without making it as luscious as a mocha or hot chocolate. It’s best for hot coffee drinks so it can dissolve, or you can whip out a blender to help it mix in.
You can enjoy it on its own or with a splash of your milk of choice. Most vegan coffee drinkers use cacao butter alongside maple syrup, coconut oil, almond butter, cinnamon, or cocoa powder for a plant-based spin on bulletproof coffee. Learn more in our explainer on why bulletproof coffee is something you must try.