Whats The Best Plant-Based Milk For Coffee? We Tried 10

We know there is a climate crisis. And we know that reducing the amount of animal products we eat is a great way to reduce our personal carbon footprint. An easy way to get started with plant-based foods? replacing the milk or dairy creamer in your daily cup is an easy way to introduce plant-based milk alternatives.

But with so many types of vegan milks now available, the non-dairy aisle can be a confusing place. each milk alternative tastes different, with some successfully mimicking dairy when poured into a hot cup of coffee, while others separate into slushy bits.

Reading: Best milk substitute for coffee

How do plant-based milk replacers compare nutritionally to cow’s milk?

many plant-based options don’t keep up nutritionally with cow’s milk, specifically when it comes to protein, calcium and vitamin d. when choosing an alternative, those are the nutrients you need to consider. Cow’s milk provides about 9 g of protein per cup, 30 percent of your recommended daily calcium and 45 percent of your recommended vitamin D. and many non-dairy beverages have little or no protein, which may or may not be a concern depending on what other high-protein foods you eat.

According to the manufacturer, milk alternatives are often fortified with calcium and vitamin d, which requires you to shake the container well because the vitamins often separate and end up at the bottom. however, many are not fortified to the same nutritional level as cow’s milk and some are not fortified at all. be sure to read the labels and make informed decisions.

how do non-dairy milks compare environmentally with dairy?

While some milk alternatives have a greater impact on the environment than others, any plant-based option is better for the earth than dairy. A 2018 University of Oxford study found that producing a glass of milk produces almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any type of vegan milk. so even if you choose the almond that consumes water, the planet will still be better off.

how do milk alternatives taste?

finally, that leaves pleasure. Not everyone is looking for the same thing when it comes to how they drink their coffee, and many brands offer plant-based milks, as well as creamers designed to mimic cream and steamable “barista” editions for lattes and cappuccinos. We tested the top plant-based milks, listed below in alphabetical order, as well as some popular creamers, to see how well they mix and compare to dairy. now, the choice is yours.

almond milk

Taste: The malk almond milk did not mix well with the coffee and curdled almost immediately. also, unsweetened almond milk leaves a bitter aftertaste. however, it worked well with cereal. silk’s vanilla almond cream fared much better, mixing well and adding a sweetness that made sugar redundant. however, the vanilla flavor was reminiscent of ’90s-style flavored coffee, which may or may not be to your liking.

climate: It takes a lot of water to make almond milk: at least four times more than it takes to grow rice, oats, or soybeans. (It’s worth noting that almond milk still requires less water to produce than the typical glass of cow’s milk.) Furthermore, a new report from The Guardian claims that the growing demands of California’s almond industry are putting huge pressure on hives, largely due to monoculture – wiping out billions of bees in a matter of months. but almond milk has the lowest carbon emissions compared to soy, oats, and rice.

nutrition: Almond milk is low in protein, only one gram per cup, so if you don’t have it in your coffee, try eating it in foods like smoothies mixed with other proteins. -rich ingredients, such as peanut butter or protein powder. however, it is a good source of vitamins a and e, and is low in calories.

cashew milk

Taste: The land-based cashew milk scored pretty well in terms of mixability, unlike other plant-based options where we needed the creamier versions to avoid the Curd. the milk itself did not separate, had a distinctive nutty flavor but without the bitterness of the others, and was not bad overall. however, the consistency was quite watery, so if you like your coffee creamy, you may not be the biggest fan.

climate: Similar to hazelnuts, cashews are lighter on the ground than other nuts and prevent soil erosion. According to the Guardian, they are one of the few crops that generally have more of a positive than negative impact on the environment. However, processing is where most of the money is made from cashews, and a large percentage of cashews are sold for export from places like Vietnam, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast and shipped to India for processing, which which generates high emissions. And that’s without taking into account the massive human cost of cashew farming: the nuts are harvested and processed manually, and the steps are laborious and dangerous.

nutrition: cashew milk is also low in protein and calories. It contains no cholesterol or saturated fat, so replacing cow’s milk with cashew milk (and other milk alternatives) can help lower cholesterol. It is also a source of vitamins E and A.

coconut milk

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Flavor: Silk’s coconut cream mixes well with coffee and adds a touch of sweetness. It was not bitter and had a good consistency. It also, unsurprisingly, tastes like coconut, which may or may not be a flavor you want in your morning coffee.

Climate: Coconuts have a fairly low environmental impact. They grow in water-rich areas such as the tropics, including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Pacific, and require low amounts of fertilizers and pesticides. However, because production is concentrated in these regions, there is an environmental cost in transporting to North America. In addition, the pressure to meet global demand has led to the exploitation of workers and the destruction of tropical forests. look for certified fair trade coconut products to avoid unsustainable practices.

nutrition: With its creamy consistency, coconut milk is higher in saturated fat, about 3 grams per cup. it is not the best option for people who care about their heart health. it doesn’t contain any protein, so try to combine it with other high-protein foods when possible. however, it is a good source of vitamins a, b12, and e.

hazelnut milk

Flavor: Hazelnut definitely adds nutty notes to your brew, but it does leave the coffee tasting a bit bitter. it also curdled rather quickly into a nasty slime. if you like a bit of a nuttiness, a hazelnut barista mix might do the trick, but I’d stay away from the latte version in the coffee. We tried the isola bio hazelnut drink.

Climate: According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a US non-profit conservation and education organization. In the US, hazelnuts use less water than other nuts, are drought resistant, and contain no pesticides. they also sequester carbon and protect against erosion. Hazelnuts can be grown on sloping land and in non-arable soils, which means fewer farm inputs and minimal maintenance. However, there have been concerns about child labor in hazelnut production in Turkey, which produces more than 70 percent of the world’s hazelnuts, so consider your source when buying.

nutrition: hazelnut milk is a source of group b vitamins, vitamin e, folic acid and is low in calories. it is beneficial for cardiovascular health because it has no cholesterol or saturated fat, and it contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids. however, like many other milk alternatives, it also doesn’t provide much protein.

hemp milk

Taste: We tried the elmhurst hemp milk creamer, which mixed very well with coffee but had a bitter and unpleasant taste. it also had a slightly off-putting smell and, despite the name, wasn’t particularly creamy.

climate: hemp has a pretty good reputation when it comes to sustainability. Research shows hemp’s ecological benefits, including its effectiveness in building soil health and its ability to flourish without herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides. While hemp has been called one of mankind’s oldest and most versatile crops, it uses more water than oats, soybeans or peas, but less than almonds or dairy.

Nutrition: Hemp milk is unique in that it provides a good dose of healthy fats in the form of omega 3 fatty acids, which promote healthy heart and brain function. it also contains 3 grams of protein per cup. Furthermore, at 10 percent of the recommended daily intake, hemp milk provides more iron than cow’s milk. It’s also a good source of magnesium, which plays a role in muscle and nerve function and bone health. can be hard to find in stores, but you can easily make your own by mixing hemp hearts with water and straining.

macadamia milk

Taste: We tried the milkadamia barista formula macadamia milk and it was the perfect amount of creaminess. this was one of our favorite milks in terms of flavor – it mixed well and its natural sweetness gave a nice flavor to the coffee. We also tried their sugar free creamer which required a bit more stirring to mix fully. the barista mix is ​​our preferred option.

Climate: Macadamia nuts prefer deep, well-drained soil, requiring 60 to 120 inches of rainfall per year. Most of the world’s macadamia nuts originate in Australia, while commercial production is primarily in Hawaii. as water shortages occur in these locations and other regions that also produce macadamia nuts, this would affect their reputation for having a low water footprint, as it could require irrigation.

Nutrition: Macadamia milk is the highest in fat of all the milks here, at 5 grams per cup, but it is predominantly monounsaturated fat, meaning it promotes health. It is also a good source of vitamins A and E and antioxidants. it provides no protein or fiber, but at around 50-80 calories per cup, it falls in the middle in terms of calories.

oat milk

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Flavor: Oat milk is an office favorite. it has a richness and creaminess that makes it ideal for coffees and lattes, especially since the richest varieties of “barista” oat milk can be steamed and even made into latte art. We tried Earth’s barista edition, which is designed for coffee, but is more expensive than regular oat milk. however, a side-by-side comparison of regular vs. barista oat milk shows that the barista drink is worth the extra money if you use it in your coffee: it’s richer and thicker. it’s a solid dairy rival for those who have a hard time letting go of their morning routine. We also tried Silk’s barista oat milk, but it wasn’t as rich or creamy as the land one.

Climate: Oat milk appears to have the lowest environmental impact of all plant-based milks. oats are largely rainfed and have lower carbon emissions compared to other alternatives. Oat milk requires more land than almonds or rice, but it also requires one sixth of the water needed for almonds to grow.

nutrition: Of all the dairy alternatives, oat milk is the richest in fiber, specifically beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber found in oats that can help reduce cholesterol. At around 3-4 grams per cup, oat milk holds its own when it comes to protein. it’s a little higher in sugar, 6 grams per cup, due to the fact that oats are naturally a source of carbohydrates.

pea milk

Taste: The Ripple, made from pea protein, was possibly the worst contender: It hardly blended with the coffee and separated into oily strands. all the coffee had to be discarded soon after. however, not bad with cereal. A newer, barista-style, sprouted pea milk, which is newly available in Canada, fared better: It has a neutral flavor, foams well for a latte, and mixes decently with a cup of joe. while tasters preferred the oat milk flavor, sproud is a solid contender.

climate: Since soybeans and peas are legumes, there are many similarities in these milk alternatives. According to a study by New Mexico State University, peas fix nitrogen in the soil, reduce artificial fertilizers and require less water than other crops. peas also tend to be grown in areas where water is less scarce.

Nutrition: When it comes to protein content, pea milk is the clear winner, with 8 grams each per cup. Pea milk is made from yellow split peas, which is Ripple’s brand “proprietary pea protein.” Pea milk is also high in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, due to the manufacturer’s added sunflower oil and algae oil, and is fortified to be an excellent source of vitamin B12. this one seems to contain the most highly processed and added ingredients.

rice pudding

Taste: The rice milk mixed surprisingly well, with little to no curdling. but it was a bit like pouring white water into our coffee: all it did was lighten the color. We tried Natura’s organic fortified rice drink.

Climate: Rice milk is quite thirsty and requires 54 liters of water per glass to prepare. Among soy, oats, and almonds, rice milk has the highest carbon emissions, though not by much. rice paddies can harbor breeding bacteria that pump methane into the atmosphere.

Nutrition: Rice milk is a safe bet for people with food allergies because it is the dairy alternative least likely to cause an allergic reaction. however, it doesn’t contain any protein, so it won’t keep you full for long. even the “original” varieties can be sweetened with brown rice syrup. this means people with diabetes or those looking to keep blood sugar levels stable should consider another alternative to milk or look for “sugar-free” on the label to make sure it doesn’t contain added sugars.

soy milk

flavor: the sweetness of soy milk mimics the natural flavor of dairy, but tends to make the coffee grainy and in some cases curdles completely once added . the soy cream version (we tried the silk one) blends quite well, but it’s not as smooth as we would have liked.

climate: To produce a liter of soy milk, about 297 liters of water are needed, which is less than a third of the water needed to produce cow’s milk. One of the main concerns with soy milk is that soy is grown in large quantities, which requires a lot of land: large tracts of rainforest in the Amazon have been burned to make way for soy farms. Most of those soybeans are used for animal feed, but it’s still a good idea to look for organic soybeans grown here or in the US. uu. to combat the possibility of harm done internationally.

nutrition: the nutritional profile of soy milk is the most similar to that of cow’s milk of all plant-based milks. It’s naturally high in protein, at 7 g per cup, provides potassium and isoflavones, which may protect against some cancers and osteoporosis. Other nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin B12 are added. It also contains no saturated fat, but it does contain healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and may help lower cholesterol.

Originally published May 2020. Updated March 2021.

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