What is the best vegetable milk for coffee?

I welcome you to this new article where I will do something very interesting, compare and analyze vegetable milk. As I told you in the article where I made a cappuccino with almond milk in the French press, I was introduced to vegetable milk many years ago in a country where all the coffee shops offered different types of options when choosing your coffee.

Among the options were almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, rice milk, etc., and I was surprised by the variety and the number of people who asked for them. I particularly liked the combination of almond milk with coffee.

Although it was difficult to get this milk a few years ago, there are plenty of options in supermarkets, health food stores, grocery stores, etcetera. So I came up with the idea of buying the easiest ones I could get and trying them to know which one is the best for coffee, this way, you will no longer have to do this work.

Analysis of the different vegetable milk

Here we are going to see the ingredients that each of these milk has, analyze the flavor, the texture, if Latte Art can be achieved with them, and, most importantly, how they combine with the flavor of the coffee.

I found several options in the market and bought different ingredients, mostly to see how they combine with coffee. I used rice milk, oat milk, peanut milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, a blend of different vegetable sources, and, in addition, the classic almond milk.

I also got almond milk that suggests being a little creamier; in fact, it is the only one that claims to be for baristas or chosen by baristas, which is very common in many countries, the fact that several brands aim to prioritize the texture to obtain a better Latte Art. So we will see how this one reacts concerning the others.

Finally, I added the one I make myself at home, milk made only with almonds and water, for comparison.

We know that, in general, almond milk goes very well with coffee, and in a moment, we are going to analyze which is the best option among them, but I will start by talking about the other alternatives. Which ones go best with coffee? Here I tell you.

Cashew Nut Milk

Let’s start with the cashew milk, which, when pouring after shaking it, you could see that it was a little separated; I don’t know if curdled is the word, but it had a little trouble keeping the texture. When steaming it, it looked pretty good, there were some bubbles on the surface that could be removed with a few taps on the jar, and it didn’t look bad.

Then, when it came in contact with the coffee, you could see that it separated quickly, all the solid remains on top and the liquid below, making it quite difficult for the Latte Art that remains stained, although it produces a large amount of foam.

The taste is weird; it tastes like corn to me, it is very astringent, and the taste is a bit artificial; it covers a lot of the coffee flavor, so it doesn’t combine well. I wouldn’t say I liked it very much, so I gave it a 4 for texture and a 2 for taste.

Cappuccino with cashew nut milk
Cappuccino with cashew nut milk

Rice Milk

I liked the rice milk when I tasted it cold and on its own. When steaming it, it grew in volume, but at the end, there were some very large bubbles on the surface. In a second, when hitting the pitcher, they disappeared, remaining completely liquid again, as if I had not even texturized it, so naturally, the Latte Art was completely null.

The taste was very sweet; you can tell it is sweetened, and the truth is that it tastes a lot like toasted rice, which covers a lot of the coffee flavor and leaves a rather ugly aftertaste in the mouth; it also has a lot of artificial flavors. So in texture, I give it a one, and in taste, a 2.

Cappuccino with rice milk
Cappuccino with rice milk

Coconut Milk

We continued with the coconut milk, which, when placed in the pitcher, looked almost transparent, it seemed more like coconut water than milk, very watery, so there were already doubts from the start. The same thing happened with the rice milk; it grew in volume and formed very large bubbles that disappeared with the texture, although it kept it a little more than the rice milk.

So, when it came time to mix it with the coffee, it barely had the minimum amount to make some Latte Art, but nothing more than a heart without contrast.

The flavor felt quite artificial, like that coconut aroma that creamer products have, for example. It’s very watery, has a rather bitter aftertaste, and, most importantly, completely covers up the coffee flavor, so I give it 2 in texture and 2 in flavor.

Cappuccino with coconut milk
Cappuccino with coconut milk

Oat Milk

I had a lot of faith in the oat milk since I liked it when I tasted it alone and cold. Still, the same story repeats itself; it turned out the same as the coconut milk and barely kept a little bit of texture; the only thing it allowed me to do was to make a very disappointing Latte Art heart. But the most important thing for me is the flavor, and this one raised the bar compared to the previous ones.

It has a slightly more neutral flavor, giving the coffee more prominence. It doesn’t feel as invasive as the others, nor as artificial, although it has a slight vanilla aftertaste, typical of vanilla essence. I liked the taste, so I give it a 7, but it lacks texture, so I give it a 2.

Cappuccino with Oat Milk
Cappuccino with Oat Milk

Peanut Milk

Now we have the peanut milk, and guess how it steamed? That’s right, again, absolutely nothing; it didn’t even keep a little bit of texture, so no, Latte Art is not even an option.

If we go to the flavor, it felt quite sweet, not as invasive as the first ones; the coffee is felt, does not cover it, and does not feel artificial, so it added some points here. But the truth is, the combination of the coffee flavor and the peanut flavor don’t go together; it doesn’t feel as rich, is also a bit astringent, and lacks body. So I give it a 6 for flavor and 1 for texture.

Cappuccino with peanut milk
Cappuccino with peanut milk

Milk-based on different vegetable sources

We are left with this option, which is not based on a single ingredient but combines different vegetable sources to develop a flavor that claims to be more similar to conventional milk. I had a lot of faith in this one since I had heard about it for quite some time, but I had never tried it. Unfortunately, I have to say that it was a disappointment.

In texture quite well, at first, it looked a bit with big bubbles like the others, but when we exploited them, it was a very fine texture, with microbubbles that allowed us to make some Latte Art, and it looked very good. But when I tasted it, I wouldn’t say I liked it at all; it felt very sour and completely covered the flavor of the coffee. So in texture, I give it a six, and in taste, 1.

Cappuccino with milk from different vegetable sources
Cappuccino with milk from different vegetable sources

NOTE: Remember that these are my opinions based on my experience; maybe you will get other results. For all the preparations, I used the same espresso recipe, texturizing technique, and temperature, not exceeding 149 degrees Fahrenheit, to compare them under the same parameters.

Commercial Almond Milk

Classic almond milk

Let’s continue with almond milk and, to begin with, look at the most classic one. We can find millions of this type with a quite similar compositions. When we texturized it, it looked very good, with microbubbles, silky but very foamy, which was noticeable when making Latte Art; the foam was very dense and did not allow us to draw freely, besides looking a little stained. But I think that adding less air would be a little better.

In flavor, it combines quite well with coffee; it feels rich, although it leaves a bit bitter aftertaste, you can feel a bit of artificial flavoring and corn starch, but it does not cover so much coffee; it is quite good. So I give it a 5 for texture and a 6 for taste.

Cappuccino with classic almond milk
Cappuccino with classic almond milk

Special almond milk for baristas

Let’s analyze now another almond milk, but it says on the box that it is special for baristas because it is creamier. When steaming it, I could see a lot of big bubbles that I could burst by hitting the pitcher a little bit, and it was better. When making the Latte Art, it looked silkier, not so dense, and more manageable but a little spotty, as if the texture of the foam had not been well incorporated.

When I tried it, I wouldn’t say I liked it very much, as it covers quite a bit of the coffee flavor and feels very astringent and bitter like it has a lot of almond skin flavor and also has a characteristic taste of the emulsifier, it leaves you with a bit of an ugly aftertaste. I give this one a 6 for texture and a 4 for taste.

Cappuccino with almond milk special for baristas
Cappuccino with almond milk special for baristas

Almond milk with coconut

Finally, among the ones I got, there is almond milk that comes mixed with coconut. When steaming it, it looked pretty good, silky, and without many bubbles, which was noticed when making the Latte Art. It looked pretty good; the foam was a little dense but better than the almond milk alone, and it let me make a figure quietly.

As for the flavor, it covers a little the coffee flavor and is somewhat astringent, it has a somewhat artificial almond flavor, as if it were an amaretto, but it’s not bad. I give it a 7 for texture and a 5 for flavor.

Cappuccino with almond milk with coconut
Cappuccino with almond milk with coconut

Homemade Almond Milk

To close this review, I couldn’t help but add the homemade option. There is a lot of difference when making the milk ourselves; sure, it is more effort, but is it worth it?

This time I used the recipe I always make home, which only has almonds and water. When steaming it, it behaved very well, increasing in size without creating big bubbles; it was silky and shiny and showed in the Latte Art; I don’t think anyone could guess that it was almond milk by seeing how it shone.

It does require a little bit more attention when drawing the figure, as it is a little lighter than regular milk, but it has a very good texture.

Its flavor is simply delicious; the only thing you can feel is the two ingredients it has, coffee and almonds, it does not cover the flavor of the coffee, but they complement each other. It has a little astringent flavor that comes from the skin of the almond, so for a better flavor, you would have to peel each of the almonds before. I give this milk a 9 for texture and an 8 for flavor.

Cappuccino with homemade almond milk
Cappuccino with homemade almond milk

Conclusion

In conclusion, I 100% support the homemade option; once you get in the habit of making it, it’s super easy and doesn’t take much time. It is so worth it, taste and texture, as you could read. But, as always, it’s all going to depend on the ingredients you use; good quality almonds and excellent filtered water are essential.

There are thousands of recipes online on how to make it; I use 200 grams of almonds per liter of filtered water. You let them soak for about 8 to 12 hours in the water, for example, from the night until the next morning, or if you want to make it fast, even if you just let them soak in boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes, with this, they swell and become active.

Then all you have to do is drain them, add them to the blender with a liter of fresh water and filter them with a sachet of vegetable milk. Now, if you are looking for something quick or cannot make the milk yourself, I recommend you look for the typical or classic almond milk or try some other blend, such as the one with almonds and coconut.

Among the other alternatives of vegetable milk, the one I liked the most was the oat milk because of its flavor, although we know that it does not have the texture we want when making a flat white or a cappuccino.

Related: Homemade coffee liqueur recipe.

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