What Is the Best Milk Alternative?

Find out more about the range of milks available in the UK and see which one will make the best dairy alternative.


Hello coffee drinkers, it is the New Year and for many people that means a fresh start, a time to try out something different.


Like many New Year resolutions, plant-based milk and dairy alternatives, tend to have a huge spike in interest in January. It is fascinating and wonderful to see lots of people are interested in going dairy-free (whatever the reason may be).


Take a look at how the non-dairy milk trends have changed over the decade:


Interest in non-dairy milk


Picture of Google Trends chart showing non dairy alternatives and how they jump in popularity every January.


As you can see from this Google Trends chart, there has been an increasing trend in coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk over the years. The question we want to know is, why? And what makes the best milk alternative for coffee?


If you are interested in testing out new non-dairy milk alternatives for your daily coffee, or if you are curious about some of the health benefits, then keep on reading.


We look at the benefits of different non-dairy milks, as well as what different milk alternatives taste like with coffee. We also answer a few interesting questions at the end of this article.


Oat milk


Picture of oat milk in a glass.

Oat milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives for coffee drinkers. It is on the rise and for good reason.


Firstly, oat milk is far more sustainable than most other milks, due to the small amount of land, water and emissions it uses. Great for anyone looking to be more sustainable and conscious of their carbon footprint.


Secondly, it is an ideal dairy alternative for coffee. Oat milk has that same creamy texture that you would get from full-fat dairy milk. However, it contains less saturated fat and is packed with fibre.


Oat milk is typically made from a blending oats, water and occasionally canola oil, then straining the milky liquid.


You could easily make it at home!


How does oat milk taste in coffee?


Oat milk tastes as you can imagine it would, slightly wheaty with a naturally sweet, creamy aftertaste.


Non-dairy milk drinkers love it because it is a similar consistency to cow’s milk, and it doesn’t dramatically alter the taste of your coffee.


Soy milk


Picture of soya milk.

Soy milk (also known as soya milk) is one of the most well-known plant-based milks available. For years it was one of the only, widely available dairy alternatives you could find in a coffee shop.


Now in the UK, many coffee shops and supermarkets have a wide range of non-dairy milk options.


Soy milk is made by soaking and pressing soybeans. They are then ground to a pulp and boiled to filter out the milk. It is high in calcium and has a high protein content, making it a good substitute for your daily coffee.


What does soy milk taste like in a coffee?


The taste of soy milk can vary between brands, but typically, it is a creamy texture and has a mild, slightly sweet flavour.


Soy milk is a great dairy-free option for vegans. Or for someone who is looking for an affordable milk alternative for coffee.


Almond milk


Picture of almond milk.

A popular milk alternative for coffee that you can easily find in supermarkets or your local coffee shop is almond milk. It is produced by soaking and blending almonds (similarly to other nut milks).


As well as being dairy-free, almond milk is low in calories compared to cow’s milk, and it is a good source of vitamin E.


Although it tastes good, almond milk in coffee isn’t always the best option. It tends to separate and curdle more than other substitutes.


We have found it is better to use almond milk in iced coffee.


How does almond milk taste in coffee?


Since it is a nut milk, it has a slightly nutty flavour, making it favourable in speciality coffees. Almond milk can sometimes taste bitter in coffee. Although, this varies among different types of almond milks and brands (e.g. sweetened vs unsweetened).


We prefer to drink almond milk in sweet iced coffee, such as an iced caramel latte.


Coconut milk


Image of coconut flavour milk.

People have become increasingly more interested in coconut milk recently, and we can see why.


Coconut milk is a great alternative to dairy milk. It is rich in vitamins, holds plenty of flavour and has a thick, velvety texture.


How does coconut milk taste in coffee?


Short answer: really good.

Long answer: The flavour is subtle, nutty and usually sweet. But you can get sweetened or unsweetened depending on your preferences. It still has that creamy texture to it like cow’s milk. However, different brands vary in flavour.


We find that Alpro create a very coconutty milk (which is tasty in a mocha!).


Hemp milk


Photo of hemp seeds and milk.

Hemp milk is one of the less common plant-based milks you hear about (especially for coffee). It has a distinctive flavour, and for those who enjoy it, it makes a healthy alternative to cow’s milk.


Hemp milk has many nutritional benefits, as it is low in saturated fats and a good source of omega-3.


In terms of sustainability, it is a more sustainable substitute for the environment. According to Good Hemp, this plant-based milk grows naturally (without pesticides) and uses very little water. Plus, it can absorb up to 4x more CO2 than trees!


How does it taste in coffee?


Hemp milk has a slightly nutty flavour like almond milk, although it can be a little watery in texture. While hemp milk has plenty of other benefits, we find it is less enjoyable in a coffee. Black coffee is probably the way to go!


It usually tastes better in a smoothie or on its own.


Rice milk


Photo of rice milk.

Rice milk is another less common milk alternative. It is made from a combination of ground rice and water.


It contains a high amount of carbohydrates and very little protein. However, it is one of the least allergenic non-dairy milk alternatives for coffee. Making it a good choice for people who are allergic to nut milks, or dairy.


How does it taste in coffee?


Note from the editor: I cannot comment on the taste of rice milk as I haven’t yet tried it (I’ll add it to my bucket list). According to Healthline, rice milk has a mild, sweet flavour, although, be warned as it is quite watery in texture. So, if you prefer a creamier coffee, this may not be for you.


In Conclusion


Many factors go into choosing a good dairy alternative for your coffee. Such as:


  • Taste is significant when choosing new milk. If you’re a coffee-lover, you’ll agree that taste has a big impact!
  • Health benefits, such as fat and protein content are a huge factor for many.
  • Environmental concerns are also common when it comes to choosing milk alternatives.


At Daily Barista, our favourite type of dairy-free milk in coffee is coconut milk. It makes your coffee taste creamy and adds a hint of flavour. We especially love it in mochas and iced coffee.


Plus, if you get the barista coconut milk, it froths to a decent foam which is ideal for cappuccinos and other coffee favourites.


Coconut has a distinct flavour, so if you prefer a more mellow coffee, then it might be worth avoiding.


In that case, we would say that oat milk is the next best substitute for your coffee. It is more subtle, so doesn’t affect the flavour of your coffee too much. But it still has the creamy consistency for milky coffee fans.




Which milk alternative is best in coffee?

Oat milk is soaring into the lead for non-dairy coffee drinkers recently. In terms of taste, it makes a great alternative for coffee. As it is creamy and the neutral flavour doesn’t overpower your coffee.

Generally, oat milk is widely available, dairy-free and far more sustainable than cow’s milk. Plus, you can easily make it at home!


Best milk alternative for the environment?

Oat milk is one of the most environmentally friendly milk alternatives. It is vegan-friendly and uses the least amount of land and water to produce.

Soy milk is also high up there.


Best milk for creating latte art?

When creating a flat white or other latte art, you’ll want something that is easy to work with when heating and adding texture.

Now, when it comes to milk alternatives, they don’t always work smoothly.

The best tips we can offer is to buy non-dairy milk that is produced specifically for baristas. Also, practice makes perfect!


Does soy milk curdle?

Soy milk (aka soya milk) can curdle in coffee, especially if you add cold soy milk to very hot coffee. A combination of heat and acidity is what causes it to curdle. Heating it gently or waiting for your coffee to cool a little may help you avoid this issue.


Why is almond milk bad for the environment?

The main problem with almond milk is that it uses a lot of water to produce. According to The Guardian, it can take 160 pints of water to make 1 cup of almond milk.


Is coconut milk bad for the environment?

Coconut milk is grown in tropical climates. So, although there is little land and water used to produce coconut milk, it often uses a high amount of carbon emissions when shipping. Yet, it is still far more sustainable than cow’s milk.


Are there other types of non-dairy milk?

This long list has shown a number of the best non-dairy milk options. But are there any more?

The answer is YES. Some other alternatives include pea milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk and more.


Enjoy exploring new drink combos and finding the best milk alternative for your next coffee.

Don’t forget to share pictures of your favourite coffees with us on Instagram.