The milk station at your local coffee shop is getting crowded. Where there used to be a few options—whole, half-and-half, and soy, if you were in a certain neighborhood—there’s now a gang of beaked metal birds holding anything from coconut milk to almond milk to rice milk to oat milk to hemp milk to pea milk.
While you may have a specific attraction to one type—almond if you’re allergic to soy, rice if you’re allergic to nuts, oats if you’re concerned about water usage—how do the non-dairy milks stack-up in terms of flavor and texture when stirred into your coffee?
We sampled cold brew mixed with four types of milk—soy, almond, rice, and coconut—to see how they compared. Here are our tasting notes:
We couldn’t quite reach a consensus on the non-dairy milk of preference: Almond milk (especially since we used a vanilla-flavored version) made the coffee sweet and drinkable, while rice milk was less overpowering, allowing the coffee’s flavor to come through. Soy milk made the coffee rich and thick, to the point of being “mouth-coaty,” while coconut milk was more watery and did not interfere with the acidity of the coffee.
So what about you: Which non-dairy milk sub do you prefer in your coffee and why? Tell us in the comments below.
P.S. If you’re weirded out by the way soy milk separates when you add it to hot coffee (me too!), blame science: It’s a product of the acidity and temperature of the coffee, which coagulates the proteins in the soy milk. To avoid the curdling, soy milk-drinkers recommend…
- Choosing a less acidic coffee
- Allowing your coffee to cool slightly
- Warming your soy milk gently, but not above 140° F
- Shaking up your soy milk container (and trying a different brand)
- Adding the soy milk to your mug and then gradually adding the coffee
- Dropping in the tiniest pinch of baking soda to the coffee before you add the soy milk (we haven’t tried this one—let us know if it works for you!)