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Non-dairy milk alternatives

Published on: Feb 25, 2018

Perfecting the milk in a delicious cappuccino or latte is no easy task as it is. But, this is made even more challenging when attempting to use non-dairy milk alternatives. Although the options available have increased significantly over recent times, partly due to the surge in people following plant based diets, finding an alternative milk option that works well in terms of both consistency and flavour has proved tricky. So, if you’re a coffee drinker who has decided to ditch the dairy, your biggest issue might just be finding milk that works.

One of the main issues that occur with many of these milks is their tendency to curdle or separate when adding to that perfect espresso or a freshly brewed cup of tea. This can definitely make your hot beverages look less than appealing! Another issue is that it can be difficult to correctly steam these milk alternatives and get the right texture for building drinks with. This is a result of these products having a slightly different structure that therefore yields different results when they are exposed to heat. So let’s explore a few of the options I have tried so far…

Soya milk is one of the more commonly found substitutes and has a creamy taste and texture. I found in tea it was very prone to curdling. When steaming I found that it could be very hit or miss. Sometimes it would turn out well, producing results similar to cow’s milk, and other times it would curdle or have an odd burnt taste to it. However, with a bit of practice adjusting the temperature the milk is heated to and how you add it to the coffee, it can work well!

Another option that appears to be becoming a more popular choice is coconut milk. But, if you don’t enjoy the taste of coconut this one may not be for you! Likewise with almond milk, the flavour is usually quite nutty, so if you’re looking for something that doesn’t alter the taste of a drink too much these may not be the best option as the flavour tends to be quite strong. In addition to this, I found both of these very difficult to create a good latte or cappuccino milk with as it did not want to “thicken”. 

Now onto my personal favourite…

Oat milk. But not just any oat milk. Oatly Barista Edition. The name is promising, right? I first tried just standard oat milk and although it had a nice flavour, I found it remained quite thin after steaming – much like the coconut and almond milks. So, when I first found some Oatly Barista, I was intrigued. Well, it definitely does not disappoint. I find this milk has a smooth taste and consistently produces great steamed milk that even works well for creating latte art! Plus, it works in tea perfectly! Out of all the options I have tried so far, this one undeniably is the easiest to work with and, in my opinion, produces results closest to that of cow’s milk.

This is by no means an exhaustive list as even these few types of non-dairy milk I have covered can vary greatly between all of the different brands and there will no doubt be many more options become available as the market is continually growing. Finding the right milk substitute will ultimately come down to personal preference and a lot of trial and error. But for now, if you are in need of a new non-dairy milk option for your hot drink needs or have yet to try one out, I would definitely recommend Oatly’s Barista Milk. Some bad news though…the secret of how GREAT it is has gotten out, resulting in increasing demand and it  selling out pretty quickly in stores. So, if you happen to spot some, stock up while you can! Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts and if you have any further tips for using non-dairy milk, we’d love to hear them!