Sure, regular old black coffee is vegan, but lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee beverages are clearly not vegan—or at least they usually aren't. While you can now find milk alternatives in many cafes, you often pay a premium.
By making them at home you save money and you can control exactly what goes in your mug. Learn to make dairy-free, vegan versions of traditionally milky coffee drinks.
Also, explore drinks that don't contain milk or milk alternatives, and learn how to enjoy your coffee black but flavored. You can spice up your coffee breaks while maintaining your vegan diet or lifestyle.
Below you will find a selection of unique vegan coffee alternatives you can play around with! There is nothing stopping you from adding your own spin to them, so have fun!
New Orleans Coffee
Also known as café noir, New Orleans coffee is coffee made with chicory, a bitter perennial herb that adds a chocolate-caramel flavor without dairy, sugar, or calories. It's vegan, of course, and it's a wonderful way to mix up your usual black coffee routine. It also has less caffeine, for those who might have a sensitivity to it.
Cafe Au Lait
This quick and easy variation is similar to latte, but made with soy milk (or another dairy alternative) and instant coffee. You can use almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, or coconut milk if you prefer. You can try different milk alternatives until you find the one that gives you the creamy mouthfeel and flavor you are looking for.
Spicy Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is typically served sweet or "bitter" (unsweetened) without milk, so of course it's vegan. It sizzles with the flavor of cardamom. It may contain ingredients like almond extract, cloves and vanilla.
This flavorful Turkish coffee recipe revisits tradition with a selection of warming spices. It can be a great treat that doesn't have the added calories from milk. You can like it without any sweeteners and just enjoy the spices.
This vegan twist on the classic Irish coffee cocktail is made with the option of vegan whipped cream instead of whipped cream. You can enjoy your coffee and whiskey without milk.
You can use cold brew coffee as a base for all kinds of vegan coffee drinks. With cold brew, you tamp coffee grounds at room temperature for up to 24 hours. The concentrated coffee can then be diluted with water used for cold coffee drinks. Add spices, vegan sweeteners, dairy alternatives, and other ingredients for extra flavor.
You can make a basic vegan coffee that serves as a base for other vegan beverages, such as instant sodas. You can add it to vegan smoothies, vegan "milkshakes" or vegan hot chocolate, as well as vegan coffee cocktails.
This homemade coffee liqueur is like Tia Maria or Kahlua, but you control everything that goes with it. You'll add the ingredients to rum if you're mimicking Tia Maria, or to vodka if you're mimicking Kahlua. It only takes 10 days to make your liqueur which can make a lovely gift especially during the holiday season.
Which plant-based milk goes well with coffee?
The range of plant-based milk alternatives has grown significantly in recent years. While a few years ago there was mainly soy and rice milk, today you can also find drinks made from various types of nuts and grains on the supermarket shelves. If you want to save money and packaging waste, you can also make your own plant-based milk!
So, which milk is best suited for the preparation of coffee drinks? Or to put it another way: Which milk can be frothed most easily without professional equipment - i.e. with a standard electric or manual milk frother - and which taste goes best with coffee? Here is our overview:
Soy milk is very easy to froth. A firm foam is formed that lasts for a long time. This makes it perfect for preparing latte macchiato and cappuccino. However, as with all milk alternatives, the products of different brands can be foamed differently. So it's worth trying it out here! The aroma of soy milk is a matter of taste: Depending on the type, it can be strongly “beany”, sweet or more neutral. Many are sweetened with sugar or, for example, concentrated apple juice. Soy drinks are also available in various flavors such as chocolate or vanilla - with these products the typical soy note takes a back seat.
In general, the more protein milk contains, the easier it is to froth it. This explains why rice milk shouldn't be your first choice when it comes to nice, firm milk froth - it only contains around 0.2g of protein per 100ml (for comparison, soy milk has around 3.3g). Many people like rice milk very well in coffee thanks to its sweet taste. Various mixed drinks are also recommended: by adding almond milk, for example, the rice milk becomes thicker, gets an interesting flavor and is easier to froth.
Grain milk: oats, spelt and millet
Oat milk froths very well, but the froth is not as firm and does not last as long as soy milk. The oat taste comes through slightly in the coffee, but goes very well with it. Some manufacturers have already launched oat milk varieties that are ideal for latte macchiato and the like. These so-called “barista editions” contain certain substances that enable stable milk froth.
Spelled milk has a sweet cereal flavor that also goes well with coffee. It can be foamed, but the foam does not last as long as with other varieties. Millet milk, on the other hand, is difficult or impossible to froth and has a strong taste of its own, which you can still clearly taste in the coffee.
Almond milk foam is particularly creamy. The marzipan-like, somewhat tart note of the almond milk comes into its own in lightly sweetened drinks.
Commercially available hazelnut, cashew or macadamia milk is less suitable for making milk foam - we have had better experiences with home-made nut milk. Hazelnut milk, in particular, goes very well with coffee with its strong, typically "hazelnut" note. It also tastes great in cold coffee drinks such as frappé or iced coffee.
Coconut milk (the runny one in canned drinks, not the thick one in cans) doesn't froth well and tends to be watery. If the dominant coconut note is too strong for you, you should try the various mixed drinks such as the coconut-rice drink.
Vegan coffee recipes are becoming more popular and the number of vegan coffee shops is increasing. There are many ways to create a vegan coffee recipe, all you need is the right ingredients and some imagination!