If you’re like us and coffee is a big part of your working day, you’ll understand how important it is to enjoy a premium, great-tasting cup. A cup of coffee can get you set up for the day, give you a vital energy boost and keep you motivated and alert in the office.
If you’re responsible for making the decision of what type of coffee and refreshments your team has, you’ll likely want to offer a choice. Not only will your team appreciate having a choice of different coffee beans, but they’ll also appreciate a choice of different milks.
Plant-based or alt-milks have become increasingly popular over the last few years. More and more people are switching from dairy milk to plant-based for a number of reasons.
These include, people opting for a vegan lifestyle, agricultural and sustainability concerns, animal welfare reasons, and some people are lactose intolerant. So for those in your team who won’t drink regular cow’s milk, what are the best alternatives?
We look at a number of different options and explain which ones will work best in coffee. One challenge of using plant-based milks in hot drinks is that some of them are prone to curdling or separating in your drink. This can be somewhat unappetising and ruin the taste of your coffee. It’s the acidity in the coffee that’s usually the cause of the curdling, but there are several ways to prevent this from happening.
How to stop my plant-based milk from separating?
The first one is to heat the milk before pouring it into your coffee. This should prevent it from curdling although you must be careful not to overheat it as this can affect the taste of the milk.
Another solution is to add the milk slowly while stirring constantly to distribute the milk evenly. You can also try using a milk frother that can help to emulsify the milk and prevent it from curdling or splitting. And of course, if you’ve got a bean-to-cup coffee machine it’ll do the hard work for you.
Many coffee machines now offer dual milk functionality so you can offer your team a choice of dairy milk and a plant-based milk. There are lots of different types of plant-based milk but our favourite is oat. We love oat milk due to its great taste and versatility.
Different types of milk and how to use them
There are many different types of non-dairy milk, each has its own unique benefits and challenges when it comes to coffee. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular non-dairy milks available and which may be best suited for use in your office’s coffee machine.
The most popular types of non-dairy milks in the UK include almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk and rice milk. Each type has its own unique flavour profile and will affect how your coffee tastes.
It’s important to note that some plant-based milks have more fat than cow’s milk, which can result in a thicker foam on top of the coffee. Also, some plant-based milks contain ingredients such as starches or gums that may not be suitable for everyone’s taste buds so always be sure to read the label.
Almond milk is the second most popular non-dairy milk available today, thanks to its mild nutty flavour and low-calorie content compared to other types of non-dairy milks. It foams well in coffees and has a smooth and creamy texture when added to hot drinks. However, it doesn’t always reach the same level of thickness as regular cow’s milk – so if you’re making a coffee like a latte or cappuccino, you might want to try different amounts to get it just right.
Oat milk is the UK’s favourite alt-milk (and ours) overtaking almond milk in 2020. We love it so much here that we Brits spent a staggering £146 million on oat milk in 2020. Overall for the same year, UK shoppers spent £394m on plant-based milks.
Its popularity is due to its thick and smooth texture, and mild sweetness that nicely compliments any type of espresso shot or cappuccino. Oat’s natural emulsifying properties also help create a really creamy foam – perfect for lattes and flat whites. It’s also really versatile and can be enjoyed as fresh liquid milk or in powdered form.
Soy milk was one of the earlier types of dairy alternatives on the market and works well in hot drinks, but only if you heat it up first. That’s because it can be prone to curdling in your coffee.
It has a distinct earthy taste and is relatively low in calories compared to other options, making it a hit amongst health-conscious consumers.
Soy milk won’t quite create the same larger thicker foams like almond or oat, but you’ll get a good overall experience and taste.
For those with a sweet tooth, coconut is a good alternative. This creamy drink packs plenty of sweetness into every sip without packing too much fat or calories – theoretically making it healthier than real dairy based products.
The downside, however, is that foam production tends to be lower when steaming coconut, which could affect certain drinks such as cappuccino where crema and foam play an integral role in creating the final product.
Rice has been around long before alternative milks were ever invented, yet rice has only relatively recently become more popular as an alt-milk product. This neutral-tasting dairy-free milk does have its advantages though, namely being high in vitamins B12 & D which have health boosting properties.
However, it’s important to note that rice sadly doesn’t produce much foam at all which could make things tricky if you fancy a latte or cappuccino.
Which one is right for my office?
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference on what milk you supply your office team. We recommend you provide at least one plant-based option to give your team the choice and flexibility at work. If you need any help or advice or if you’re thinking of upgrading your office coffee experience, get in touch with our expert team.