This week, someone asked me what the best plant based milk was to use with coffee. I’ll admit, I was stumped. As someone who doesn’t drink milk from any origin in their coffee, I simply had no idea. So this prompted some testing.
Tim and I turned our family kitchen into a test kitchen, bought 3 milks (kinda wish I had bought 4, for reasons that will become apparent later) and set to work to see how they faired in terms of: ‘ability to froth’, environmental impact, health benefits or lack thereof and whether they complemented or fought the coffee.
So here are the results (we made lattes using our Brazil blend):
- Soya Milk - quick to froth, but quickly lost its form. The soya milk had a really strong, overwhelming taste that dominated the coffee and was very sweet, too sweet for either of us. Again, we don’t have sugar in our coffee or milk so this was too much.
- Oat Milk - this was definitely the best for frothing - and I’m told the ‘barista version’ of this milk is even better. It was not as sweet as Soya Milk, but has a very distinctive taste that still overwhelmed the Brazil blend
- Almond Milk - this milk sat between the two in terms of frothing, but in terms of sweetness was just about right and definitely didn’t ‘fight' the coffee. If I was going to choose a plant based milk, I would definitely choose almond milk.
Environmental Impact - I found a great calculator from the BBC - link here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46654042:
These calculations were based on having milk in one coffee a day:
- Almond Milk - 28 miles by car (10kg of annual greenhouse gas emissions)
- Oat Milk - 36 miles by car (14kg of annual greenhouse gas emissions)
- Soya Milk - 39 miles by car (15kg of annual greenhouse gas emissions)
- Dairy Milk - 125 miles by car (49kg of annual greenhouse gas emissions)
As you can see compared to the dairy equivalent, the plant based milks were significantly less in their environmental impact.
Cost per litre (from Tesco.com):
- Almond Milk - £1.70
- Oatley - £1.80
- Soya Milk - £1.40
- Semi-skimmed milk - £0.80
Pairing with coffees
- Almond Milk would work best with nuttier coffee - from South America - like Brazil
- Oat Milk - would work best with fruitier coffee from Africa
- Soya Milk - would work best with a dark roasted coffee - one that cuts through the sweetness of the soya milk
- Dairy Milk - 5g of sugar per 100g
- Almond Milk - 2.4g per 100g
- Oat Milk - 4.1g per 100g
- Soya Milk - 2.5g per 100g
(Note the inclusion of Rice Milk 🤦🏻♀️)
So that in a ’nutshell’ is our appraisal of the best plant based milks on the market…ultimately it will come down to personal choice/taste, but hopefully this gives you some scope to explore alternatives…..