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Dairy & Dairy Alternatives for Coffee / Tea

Beyond Milk & Soymilk


An image of Silk Soymilk, a lactose-free dairy alternative.

Soymilk is a widely available dairy alternative.

Marko Goodwin
The most common coffee and tea additives are dairy and sweeteners. Many people enjoy their coffee or tea with a bit of milk, but there are lots of ways to combine coffee and tea with dairy and dairy alternatives. Here are some of the common dairy/dairy alternatives people add to coffee and tea:

Milk is commonly added to tea and coffee. Some people prepare their beverage with milk as a base (as is the case with masala chai), but more often than not, milk is mixed with brewed coffee, espresso or tea.

Proportions of coffee/tea to milk vary with drink types. For example, lattes often have more milk than other espresso drinks.

Milk may be foamed or frothed for additional texture in drinks such as cappuccinos and macchiatos.

Cream is occasionally added to coffee and tea drinks, such as Espresso con Panna. It is often whipped and sweetened.

Some people mistake the term “cream tea” to mean tea with cream. Outside of East Frisian tea (which contains actual cream), cream tea usually means an afternoon snack of tea, Devon cream and scones.

Non-Dairy Creamer
Non-dairy creamer (a.k.a. “whitener”) is a lactose-free dairy alternative for coffee. It may be in liquid or granule/powdered form. Artificially flavored varieties include caramel, chocolate and seasonal flavors. It is highly flammable and is not what one might call a “natural food product.”

Recently, a more natural coconut milk "creamer" has become available in some health food stores and supermarkets.

Soymilk, Rice Milk, Cashew Milk, Coconut Milk, Etc.
Those seeking more natural non-dairy options often turn to soymilk, rice milk, cashew milk, almond milk, oat milk and the like.

Soymilk is widely available and provides a decent mouthfeel, but some people with lactose sensitivities are also allergic to soy. Seasonally available flavored soymilk varieties such as Pumpkin Spice Soymilk can add variety to your daily "soymilk and coffee" routine.

Rice milk is less widely available than soy, but more available than other alternatives. It has a slightly sweet taste that works well with coffee and tea, but its consistency is watery compared to milk.

Cashew milk and almond milk provide a superior mouthfeel to other non-dairy alternatives. They are also usually more expensive.

Coconut milk has a creamy mouthfeel and a mildly sweet flavor. It is increasingly available in health food stores and supermarkets.

Other Dairy Additives
Some people add other dairy products, such as evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk to their coffee or tea. A prime example of this is Hong Kong Milk Tea.

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