Coffee Creamer vs Milk Powder: Which One Is Better?

Let’s look at coffee creamer vs milk powder, so coffee lovers can make an informed decision.

coffee creamer vs milk powder
Coffee Creamer vs Milk Powder

Whenever I’m out shopping for my coffee supplies, I usually find myself checking out both coffee creamer and milk powder. I have always wondered which was better than the other, not just in terms of taste, but also other aspects like health benefits, ingredients, and texture.

However, once I figured out the differences, I sort of developed a preference for one of the options. I won’t say which because I’m hoping you can make your own unbiased choice once I break down the differences between the two.

Let’s get started!

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What Is Coffee Creamer?

Coffee creamer comes in liquid or powder form, and you can buy it in most stores. Typically, coffee creamer is a dairy-free alternative that’s added to coffee. Unlike milk, creamer is not meant to be enjoyed on its own.

But instead, it’s used to enhance the taste of coffee. It’s usually sweetened and comes in various flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, almond, and hazelnut.

What Is Milk Powder?

a portion of milk powder
Milk powder is created by evaporating pasteurized or whole fresh milk until it becomes dry

Milk powder has a pretty straightforward name – it’s basically milk in powder form. It’s a common product made by evaporating pasteurized or whole fresh milk until it’s dry. Because you make milk powder by removing water, the milk solids usually reconstitute when mixed with water.

The main purpose behind turning fresh milk into powder is to create a dairy product with a much longer shelf life. The low moisture content ensures the product can still be used safely, even if it’s not refrigerated.

What Coffee Creamer and Milk Powder Have in Common

Besides the fact that both are edible powders that can be added to coffee, coffee creamer and milk powder also share the following traits:

They Have a Long Shelf Life

Both coffee creamer and milk powder are shelf-stable. They don’t require refrigeration due to their low moisture content.

You Can Make Them At Home

Although you probably use store-bought coffee creamer and powdered milk, it’s possible to make them at home. You can check out these homemade creamers and powdered milk recipes if interested.

They Alter the Taste of Coffee

While it’s true that the rich taste of coffee more than satisfies on its own, some coffee lovers find that pairing their cup of black coffee with creamer can enhance the smoothness and flavor. In contrast, adding milk powder tends to reduce the flavor and smoothness of coffee.

Coffee Creamer Vs Milk Powder: The Differences

So, how are coffee creamer and milk powder different? This is a popular question, and the answer can be narrowed down to the following:

They Have Different Ingredients

Milk powder contains the same nutritional components found in fresh milk, although it sometimes contains added nutrients to replace those lost during the dehydration process. On the other hand, coffee creamer requires a lot of processing and ingredients to manufacture.

The exact ingredients depend on the brand, but the basic ingredients include water, sugar, and vegetable oil. Most of them also contain casein, a protein derived from milk. The ingredient list can further expand, as seen in this coffee creamer example.

Coffee Creamer Has More Calories

a creamer getting poured on a coffee
Coffee creamer contains a lot of sugar which is not healthy compared to powdered milk

Coffee creamer contains a lot of sugar and, therefore, more calories per serving. That means it’s much less healthy than powdered milk.

Milk Powder is More Versatile

As the name suggests, coffee creamer is designed strictly as a coffee embellishment. In contrast, you can add milk powder not only to coffee but also to baked goodies, cereal, and other cooking recipes. You can also mix it with water and consume it on its own.

Here are the overall differences between coffee creamer and milk powder:

               Coffee Creamer

               Milk Powder

It’s a non-dairy product suitable for lactose-intolerant people.

It contains lactose, so it’s not suitable for lactose-intolerant people

It’s a heavily processed product with a lot of ingredients.

Typically made from fresh milk – the powder reconstitutes once you add water.

It contains more calories due to its high sugar content.

The unsweetened versions contain fewer calories.

Typically, it comes in a wide range of flavors and enhances the taste of coffee

You can usually buy milk powder as is, and it may reduce the flavor and texture of your coffee.

Overall, not a healthy option since it’s a heavily processed product

It’s a much healthier option that’s safe to consume.

What’s Better About Coffee Creamer?

Generally, the best thing about coffee creamer is it’s a non-dairy product that’s highly suitable for lactose-intolerant people. Besides its ability to draw out the richness and smoothness of the coffee, creamer also comes in various flavors. I have had tons of fun experimenting with the different flavors, and I admit caramel hits the spot for me.

What’s Better About Milk Powder?

Overall, the best thing about milk powder is it’s got the authentic taste of milk (remember, it’s just another form of fresh milk). In addition, I like the fact that it’s not heavily processed, and you can get unsweetened milk powder if you want to trim the calories in your cup of coffee. This makes it a much healthier addition to your coffee – in small doses, of course!

Who Should Get Coffee Creamer?

So, to wrap up the facts I have discussed above, I would recommend coffee creamer for those who like a bit more excitement in their coffee, since it enhances the taste of coffee. But most importantly, you should absolutely choose coffee creamer if you are lactose intolerant because it doesn’t contain lactose (that’s why it’s also called non-dairy creamer).

However, it may not be a great option if you are health-conscious due to the high sugar content and heavy processing during manufacture.

Who Should Get Milk Powder?

a woman drinking her cup of coffee
Milk powder is not heavily processed and contains fewer calories than coffee creamer

Also, going by what I’ve outlined about milk powder, it’s a great option for coffee lovers that are not lactose intolerant and who want their cup of coffee to be healthier. That’s because milk powder contains fewer calories than coffee creamer and it’s not heavily processed.

You should also add milk powder to your coffee if you like it a bit weak since milk powder reduces the flavor and smoothness of coffee.

FAQs About Coffee Creamer Vs Milk Powder

Which milk powder is best for coffee?

When looking for the best milk powder for coffee, you should consider its richness, tastiness, sweetness, and creaminess. A popular brand is Carnation NonFat Dry Milk which has a delicious taste and aftertaste. Plus, it is nonfat, making it good for dieting individuals.

What is the best sugar-free coffee creamer?

Super Creamer is considered one of the most popular sugar-free coffee creamers. Not only is it sugar-free, but it also contains monk fruit extract — an oil good for individuals who are on a keto diet. Super Creamer also has flavors like coconut mocha which is dairy-free and vegan-friendly.

What is the best-tasting coffee creamer?

One of the best-tasting coffee creamers on the market is Nestle Coffee-mate French Vanilla. It is a dairy-free creamer that is vegan-friendly, tastes delicious and is lactose-free. It comes in a bottle with a pump to make it easy to add to your drink.

Which plant-based milk is best for coffee?

Almond milk is the best plant-based milk you can add to your coffee. It has a nutty taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste. It also comes in varieties of sweetened or unsweetened almond milk, which diversifies the flavor of your coffee.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.