Vegan, Lactose-Free Java Choices at a Café or at Home
Plain brewed coffee is a vegan, dairy-free drink. But it’s the milk and other frothy, syrupy toppings that might not be. It’s hard to tell which beverages contain milk or milk products without reading the ingredients, but here is a general guide to finding and making vegan coffee drinks.
Homemade Dairy-Free Coffee Beverage Options
A homemade cup of coffee is easy to prepare with dairy-free beverages like rice milk, soy milk or almond milk. Avoid grainy hemp milk, as it’s likely to add too much texture and flavor to the coffee.
For a taste that best mimics dairy milk (which contains natural sugar in the form of lactose), try “original” flavour beverages. Unsweetened products can taste sour or bitter in coffee. Or, for a sweet coffee treat, mix brewed coffee with vanilla or chocolate flavored non-dairy milk.
Powdered and liquid “creamers”, cappuccino mixes and hot chocolate mixes usually contain milk ingredients like casein or whey powder.
Soy Milk May Curdle Coffee
Some types of beverages, especially soy milk, may curdle in hot coffee. To avoid curdling, try:
- Buying a brand of soy milk that is aseptically packaged and sits on the shelf, rather than in the refrigerated section, of the store.
- Choosing a brand of soy milk with the fewest available ingredients (e.g. no thickeners, fillers).
- Heating the soy milk or cooling the coffee slightly before mixing.
Homemade Espresso Drinks
For homemade espresso drinks (lattes and cappuccinos), try full-fat soy milk for the frothiest foam. Rice milk and almond milk are both lower in fat and may not froth as well.
Several brands of soy creamer are available at grocery stores and specialty food shops. They’re sweeter than regular soy milk, but thicker and creamier too. Soy creamer is also a delectable dessert topping for fruit crumbles and fresh strawberries.
Dining Out Dairy-Free Coffee Options
Some coffee shops offer soy milk for their drip coffee and for their hot espresso drinks. Most charge extra (about 50 cents) for the substitution.
Using soy milk in lattes and cappuccinos should work well. Soy milk’s fat content lets it foam and froth very well.
Cold blended espresso beverages (iced cappuccinos; frappuccinos) are usually made using a pre-mixed base that contains milk. This means that dairy ingredients can’t be swapped out for soy. But iced lattes made from scratch can likely be substituted with soy milk for a vegan, lactose-free drink.
Hold the Whip
While not all “whipped cream” products are made with real cream, they do contain milk ingredients.