World Vegan Day is a celebration of the benefits of plant-based living, promoting a lifestyle that has gained immense popularity in recent years. Whether you’re a committed vegan or simply looking to explore dairy-free options for World Vegan Day, there’s no better way to embrace this day than by swapping out traditional dairy milk in your coffee. So, with that in mind, we thought it would be rather apt to pick our top 5 favourite plant-based milks that will not only elevate your coffee game but also make a positive impact on the environment.
Introduction to World Vegan Day
World Vegan Day, observed on November 1st, is an annual event that celebrates the vegan lifestyle and its ethical, environmental, and health benefits. Interestingly, the number of vegans in the UK in the past decade has increased from 150,000 to 540,000 – so there will be a lot of people celebrating today.
This day is an opportunity for vegans and non-vegans alike to learn more about plant-based living, raise awareness about animal rights, and embrace cruelty-free choices. It’s a chance to make mindful decisions about what we consume, which brings us to the topic at hand – plant-based milks for your coffee.
Why Choose Plant-Based Milks for Your Coffee?
There’s no better smell than freshly ground coffee beans in the morning, is there? You know that and, as speciality coffee roasters, we certainly know that too. Coffee beans are considered vegan-friendly as they come directly from the Coffea plant and do not contain any animal products. However, if you drink your coffee with milk, then this is where you need to be mindful of what you choose. If you add dairy milk then, obviously, you no longer have a vegan coffee. You also need to be mindful of any syrups and other additives that you may put in your coffee, as these can sometimes contain dairy or other animal products, too.
Thankfully, though, there are many options to ensure you can keep your vegan coffee. But before we look into the different plant-based milk options, let’s take a look at the benefits of having a vegan coffee.
Health and Environmental Benefits
Plant-based milks offer a plethora of health benefits. For instance, they are typically much lower in calories and saturated fats compared to dairy milk. Plus, they are also cholesterol-free, which is a massive health benefit (especially to those who are managing their cholesterol levels). Moreover, some plant-based milks are fortified with essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, making them a great source of these nutrients which can sometimes be difficult to consume the appropriate levels of when you follow a vegan diet.
As for the environmental benefits, plant-based milks are a more eco-friendly choice, reducing the carbon footprint associated with dairy farming. The benefits include:
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduced land use and deforestation
- Lower water footprint
- Decreased water pollution
What are the Best Plant-Based Milks for Coffee?
We have chosen our favourite plant-based milks that you can add to your coffee. Here are our top 5, chosen for their taste, smoothness, and how they froth:
- Oat milk
- Soy milk
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Hemp milk
Oat Milk: The New Craze
Oat milk has experienced a real surge in popularity for its creamy consistency and its fairly understated flavour, making it an ideal addition to coffee. In terms of dairy alternatives, it has quickly become the go-to choice for baristas around the world.
Thanks to its creamy texture and the fact it can be frothed so well for a plant-based milk (but mind the big bubbles!), oat milk is a great choice for a latte. However, it’s important to choose a barista-grade oat milk to ensure you can get the right texture when steaming it. We love the Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend here at Iron & Fire.
We suggest trying oat milk with our Brazilian coffee beans!
Almond Milk: A Nutty Delight
Almond milk is arguably the next most popular plant-based milk for coffees. It comes in two forms – sweetened and unsweetened – and has a very strong, nutty flavour. Whilst this will definitely appeal to some people, you have to be careful which coffee beans you pair this with as it may overpower the flavour of your coffee. After all, you don’t want to lose the tasting notes that you so carefully chose your coffee beans for.
Similarly to oat milk, you can make a great latte with almond milk – although it can be a bit more difficult to steam due to the fact it can easily separate, leaving a foam and a water layer underneath. You shouldn’t add it to your coffee when it’s cold either, as it will almost definitely curdle. When you get it right, though, it can make for a wonderfully nutty coffee.
We suggest trying almond milk with our beans from Papua New Guinea.
Soy Milk: The Classic Option
Soy milk was originally the only alternative to cow’s milk in a coffee shop and so it has been a classic choice for vegans and those with lactose intolerance. It is made from soaking and grinding soybeans and has a mild and neutral flavour that means it will accompany your coffee whilst still allowing the coffee’s unique taste to shine.
Soy milk is notably rich in protein and has a similar consistency to cow’s milk, so it is relatively easy to froth. However, it can also curdle when added to your coffee. This is due to two factors; acidity and temperature. So, if you add soy milk to your warm and quite acidic black coffee, it can very easily cause it to coagulate.
If steamed correctly, though, you won’t encounter this issue and so it still makes for a great plant-based milk option for your coffee. We like it in a flat white!
We suggest trying soy milk with our ‘The Dark Side’ blend…
“I have found if you add your espresso and soy milk together and then steam them, this will stop it curdling and can make for a great drink. Give it a try and let me know what you think!”
Coconut Milk: An Exotic Choice
If you’re feeling very exotic, then you might want to give coconut milk a try in your coffee. Although, you will only want to try this if you are a big fan of the taste of coconut – as the taste of this milk is very overpowering.
There may be some speciality coffees that will compliment coconut milk, but the majority will be overpowered by it and so you will have to choose carefully. Plus, it’s worth noting that coconut milk can be difficult to texture (it acts similarly to almond milk) and will curdle if added to a coffee when its cold.
Our advice? Stick it in a hot chocolate instead. It is a much better accompaniment to hot choc than coffee as you don’t risk spoiling the tasting notes like you do in your coffee. It gives serious ‘Bounty’ chocolate vibes, so it’s worth a try if this is something you like.
We suggest trying coconut milk with our Van Houten vegan chocolate drink.
Hemp Milk: Earthy Goodness
You won’t be surprised to hear that hemp milk is made from hemp plants. There is often a misconception with hemp that it is psychoactive as both hemp and cannabis belong to the same species of plant. However, hemp contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and so it won’t give you any sort of ‘high’. There are, however, plenty of health benefits associated with hemp.
Hemp is a fairly new entrant to the market and is not commonly used in the coffee industry at present. However, it has a distinctive earthy and slight nutty taste that would compliment many coffees surprisingly well. It’s a unique choice for those looking to explore the less-travelled paths of vegan coffee options.
It is quite thin, so is most similar to skimmed milk. However, due to its high protein content, it does froth quite well and so it can make for a nice cappuccino.
We suggest trying hemp milk with our all-time favourite, the Colombian Jazz!
Our Advice For Using Plant-Based Milks In Your Coffee on World Vegan Day
If you haven’t already, World Vegan Day provides the perfect opportunity to try plant-based milks in your coffee. If you’re a first timer, our advice is to start with oat milk as this is the best option in our humble opinion. It is easy to work with, beautifully creamy, and has a subtle taste that will work brilliantly with many different speciality coffees. Once you’ve perfected your oat lattes, then you can expand your selection with some other plant-based milks.