Using Plant Based Milks for Coffee
In 2021, the marketing of dairy free milk options could change forever due to an Amendment that has been passed in the EU Parliament. Amendment 171 will restrict plant-based milks and other products from using packaging that is similar to dairy products, or from referring to dairy (e.g. 'Does not contain milk'). Crazy, right?
I personally do not agree with this amendment at all. I am a huge fan of dairy-free milk and I truly believe that the consumption of the amount of regular milk is neither sustainable nor healthy. For these reasons, I wanted to look at different options that are available on the market and share my experiences with you.
With the team at Röststätte, I have tested a number of plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk, including Coconut Milk, Rice milk, Pea milk, Oat milk, Soya milk and Almond milk. We tasted several options for all of these different milks, and provided a general score out of 10 for their functionality for milk coffees.*
*(A quick note - I am in no way affiliated with any plant milk companies, and all the below comments are just from the experience of myself and my colleagues. I have not named any particular companies or products, and rather am providing general feedback.)
Let’s start with…
I love coconut, especially coconut yogurt. Cooking with coconut milk gives a very tropical taste to all your deserts and even curries. However, I have not come across a coconut milk that goes well with coffee. For me, the acidity structure of the drink clashes with the taste of coffee and sometimes it even curdles. There are professional barista coconut drinks available, but so far none of them has convinced me.
I think rice milk is great for people with allergies as it has the lowest allergen rating of them all. But taste wise, again I have to say I am not a fan. Rice milk is very thin, watery and tastes a bit bland. The starchy vibe doesn’t do any good in combination with coffee and I would rather recommend it to be used with cereal than in a cappuccino. The drinks I made were flat, dry and bitter. It’s also quite hard to steam and the foam doesn’t last very long
This is a completely new product to me and I have to admit, I had to get used to the idea. Once you do a blind tasting and forget that it is pea milk it actually tastes nice, foams beautifully and can add a creamy texture to your drink. It’s very good for people with food allergies as it contains neither wheat nor soy. The coffee qualities and the structure of the coffee can shine through, though I think that the sweetness tastes a little bit chemical.
The classic. The first alternative milk to conquer the world and in many countries, still number one. Generally, I don’t like how soy milk always has this really dry finish. I find that it foams very very thick and ‘blocky’, and often curdles when mixed with black coffee. Despite all this, this milk deserves respect as it led the way for so many other milks to come. So even if I don’t really agree with the taste experience you get with most soy milks, I would still give it 6 points as it has earned its place in the modern food shelves.
Aaaaand we have a winner. There is nothing as hot and hyped in the last years in Europe (and the rest of the world) than oat milk. First of all, the taste: itss creamy, itss kind of sweet and it carries the flavour of the coffee. Its foaming abilities are insane and the texture is like if you would land on a cloud.
Next fact: you are way cooler if you drink oat milk. It has literally become a lifestyle and for me it is the biggest example in showcasing how sustainability and food consciousness has arrived in day to day life.
At Roststatte, we easily sell as many oat drinks as normal milk and people are demanding it more and more.For me this milk definitely wins by far and the only minus i could say is, that it always has this little bit of a porridge vibe … but hey, I love porridge.
9.5/10 (most because of the porridge resemblance and foaming abilities)
This is a milk I actually only had to work with in Australia. Almond milk is quite thick, heavy and fatty so it will carry taste, but it also has a lot of bitterness which I didn’t really enjoy. It doesn’t foam very well either so with coffee I think it’s not a great match. I do, however, really enjoy it in other drinks like tea or chai latte.
If you want to know more about the situation in Europe regarding the plant milk regulations, check out Oatly's campaign here, or this link for more general information. You can also help to challenge Amendment 171 by signing this petition.
I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. Until then, happy plant milking.