What Is Half-And-Half Coffee? Answered

Here is an ultimate guide to answering your question about “what is half-and-half coffee?” Read more to find out how to make it at home and where to buy it.

What is half-and-half coffee?
Enhances the naturally sweet and aromatic bitterness in coffee

Half-and-half coffee is what it sounds like; hot coffee with half-and-half. Most people will brew a cup of Joe as normal and use half-and-half in place of milk or creamer.

If you’re unfamiliar with half-and-half, it’s a dairy product containing whole milk and heavy cream. The half-and-half itself usually has no added flavors or sweeteners in it, so you may expect to end up with a rich and creamy beverage that enhances the naturally sweet and aromatic bitterness in coffee.

You can find half-and-half in most grocery stores, but if not, it’s very easy to make at home using ingredients you probably already have in your fridge, like whole milk and heavy cream. In this article, I’m going to show you my favorite way to prepare half-and-half coffee at home, its substitutes, benefits, and my favorite brands you can try. You might be interested in our round-up of the best alternatives to milk in coffee.

What’s in Half-And-Half Coffee?

Half-and-half is half whole milk and half heavy cream. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the milk fat content in half-and-half must be between 10.5 and 18 percent. 

That being said, half-and-half cannot be used solely as a substitute for heavy cream as the milk fat content is not enough to hold its structure when whipped. Therefore, you cannot use it to make whipped cream.

How Do You Make Half-And-Half Coffee?

It’s a no-brainer if you already have some ready-made half-and-half at home. However, if you cannot find it in time or it’s nowhere to be found at the nearest store, here is my favorite way to prepare half-and-half from scratch using whole milk and heavy cream.

Add three cups of whole milk and one cup of heavy cream into a saucepan and keep stirring over low heat until it evaporates. Turn off the heat and transfer it into the same mug you’re going to drink your coffee out of. Alternatively, you can add whole milk and heavy cream into the mug, stir with a spoon, and heat the mug inside a microwave for 20 seconds.

Brew your favorite coffee and pour it slowly into the half-and-half mixture. Once you’re done pouring, serve with a spoon and stir. If you use store-bought half-and-half, no stirring is needed as the mixture’s already homogenized, and therefore it won’t separate.

Some people let their half-and-half sit on the top of their cup, but others like to stir it into the coffee.

Why Half-And-Half Is Better 

Pouring liquid creamer in a cup of coffee
Some creamers are just a shot of liquid

Half-and-half takes your coffee to a whole new level with its creaminess and richness in a way that some other creamers cannot do. The half-and-half mixture itself is a mixture of cream and milk, but some creamers are just a shot of liquid, which can alter the texture of your coffee and reduce the flavor profile. 

Half-And-Half Substitutes You Can Use At Home

Some home bakers switch to melted butter, silken tofu, cornstarch, and Greek yogurt to make half-and-half. However, they’re not for everyone, so to play it safe, here are some common half-and-half substitutes you can use at home. 

Light Cream

As mentioned earlier, half-and-half contains heavy cream. You can switch from heavy cream to light cream if you don’t have it at home. 

Use an equal part of light cream and whole milk and mix it together. For example, combine half a cup of whole milk with half a cup of light cream or one cup each. 

Skim Milk

Another great alternative to making half-and-half is opting for skim milk. This method requires you to prepare two-thirds of a cup of low-fat milk and one-third of a cup of heavy cream to make a seamless substitution and match the texture we all know and love.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Once in a while, I like to work on my barista skills at home by using unsweetened condensed milk to make half-and-half. With this recipe, you need an equal amount of unsweetened condensed milk and heavy cream to create half-and-half.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Half-And-Half?

The half-and-half mixture itself is rich in vital nutrients such as vitamin A, which is good for maintaining good eyesight and a strong immune system. A cup of half-and-half has around 20 calories and 20 milligrams of calcium.

Half-and-half is one of my favorite enhancers in coffee as it’s usually lower in calories than other alternatives, such as coffee creamer. On top of that, half-and-half is less processed than most creamers, guaranteeing healthier fats in my daily grind. It also means I don’t have to load up on sugar for a smooth cup of java. 

Let’s take coffee creamer, for instance. On average, a cup of half-and-half only contains one gram of sugar. Meanwhile, an average coffee creamer contains five grams of sugar per cup.

What To Know When Using Half-And-Half For Coffee

There are lots of advantages when it comes to using half-and-half in coffee. However, consuming too much half-and-half is not a wise choice either.

Cup of whole milk with bowl of heavy cream
Half-and-half contains whole milk and heavy cream

If you’re planning to reduce the amount of caffeine by adding half-and-half to your coffee, think again. Half-and-half will not interact with the caffeine content. 

As half-and-half contains whole milk and heavy cream, it’s still a dairy product. If you use store-bought half-and-half, keep a close eye on the amount of sugar listed on the package if you’re trying to cut down on sugar in your daily diet.

However, homemade half-and-half naturally has sugar in it too. So as long as you don’t add a whole lot of sugar into your cup when making half-and-half coffee, you shouldn’t have to worry about weight gain or adverse health problems, within reason. 

What Is Half-And-Half Coffee? best options

Nestlé Carnation Coffee Creamer Half & Half

Nestlé Carnation Half & Half is one of the most popular coffee products. In some areas, store-bought half-and-half can be very hard to find. As long as you can get your hands on it, it promises a life-changing cup of coffee to activate your morning routine.

Each serving contains 35 calories and one gram of sugar. The flavor itself is rich and creamy, which makes your coffee a lot more fun to drink. It also has a long shelf-life, so it’s great if you don’t drink coffee every day.

Before each use, I open and check each tub for its freshness before adding it to coffee to make sure it’s not going to mess up my beautiful cup of java. Get rid of it if you find the cream starts to curdle.

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02/07/2024 12:50 am GMT

Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half

Going plant-based? Check out this incredible half-and-half substitute from Califa Farms using coconut cream and almond milk, so you don’t have to make it yourself. Since this one contains no dairy, the texture may not be as desirably thick, but it guarantees a deliciously creamy addition to your coffee.

I like the way the liquid has a beautiful balance between the two ingredients, so my coffee is not overshadowed by it being too coconutty or too almondy. It goes amazing with my cold brew after lunch. You might also be interested in these vegan coffee alternatives

Califia Farms - Unsweetened Better Half, Half And Half Substitute, 16.9 Oz (Pack of 6), Almond Milk, Coconut Cream, Coffee Creamer, Keto, Shelf Stable, Dairy Free, Plant Based, Vegan
  • SATISFYINGLY SIMILAR: Made with better-for-you ingredients, this plant-based creamer is a close match to dairy half and half.
  • PERFECTLY CREAMY: The blend of coconut cream and almond milk is deliciously creamy, but not too thick.
  • MILD-FLAVORED: The balanced blend of almond milk and coconut cream has a mild flavor that’s not too coconutty or too almondy.
  • SUBS IN SEAMLESSLY: Unsweetened better half subs in seamlessly for half and half in your coffee, baked goods, and savory recipes.
  • GUILT-FREE: With just 15 calories, 1.5 g of fat, and 0 g of sugar per serving, you get all the yum of half and half with none of the guilt.


  • Oanh Nguyen

    Born and raised by a traditional mama-barista, Oanh is a typical Viet coffee aficionado who would spend her entire precious Sunday showing you how to categorize coffee beans just by the looks and smells. She enjoys writing about everything drinks-related while sipping her favorite rosebud tea. Find Oanh on LinkedIn.