The Best Non-Dairy Milk for Coffee

 Alex Spampinato spills the beans on the best milk alternatives for coffee…

When it comes to making a great cup of coffee, milk matters. And these days, cows have serious competition. 

From pea milk to peanut milk, cashew milk to camel milk, the list of non-dairy milks is endless. 

I’m here to tell you how different non-dairy milks measure up (we’re talking, taste, texture and the all important froth-factor).

Best tasting milk alternatives


Flavour preferences are always going to be a personal thing. Coconut milk cappuccinos might taste like tanning oil to Ben, our Wholesale Manager, while our Social Media Manager Lizzy will happily lap up one, two, three cups of the stuff.

What’s weird to one person, is wonderful to another, so when it comes down to it, the best tasting non-dairy milk for coffee is the one you enjoy the most. 

That being said, what works in cereal won’t always work in coffee. 

If you are bored of your same old flat white and curious what other milks taste like with coffee, here’s what I think:

Oat milk in coffee - mellow, smooth, slightly sweet. Neutral and not overpowering. A milk that lets coffee do most of the talking.
Soy milk in coffee - the OG of non-dairy milks, also the marmite of non-dairy milks;  depending on who you ask, it has a distracting soy taste or mild creamy taste. 
 Almond milk in coffee -  nutty and not as creamy as you might expect. Sometimes tangy and bitter (depending on whether it’s an unsweetened or sweetened variety).
 Coconut milk in coffee  - rich and coconutty. Known to change the flavours in the coffee, fighting it for the limelight. A potential winner for those who like their coffee on the sweet side. 
 Cashew milk in coffee - creamy, smooth and nowhere near as nutty as many other nut-based milks. 
 Hazelnut milk in coffee - nutty. Very nutty. Too nutty? Maybe. Similar consistency to almond milk.


Best milk for frothing 


Not every milk produces beautifully foamed, frothy coffee drinks. Not consistently anyway.

This is due to the protein content of each milk, as different non-dairy milks react and behave differently when heated (baristas call this ‘steaming the milk’). 

A test to separate the best milk alternatives from the rest of the herd (pardon the pun) is seeing what milk creates the best frothy cappuccino. 

My verdict? Oat milk. 

This humble grain might not have udders, but put a high quality oat coffee drink next to a dairy coffee drink and you’re going to struggle to tell them apart. They’ll look identical and have very similar frothy structures. 

When it comes to the worst milks for frothing, I don’t like to point fingers, but almond milk isn’t great. Frothing almond milk is notoriously challenging for baristas; it doesn’t steam easily and the foam often separates quickly. 

More important than all of this however, is making sure you are working with the right brand and version of your plant-based milk.

Oat milk from one brand can behave differently to oat milk from another brand. And whatever vegan milk you use, achieving optimal froth means going for barista editions. Your bog standard version won’t have the right stabilisers (things like seed oils) to hold the texture of the foam, so when you steam it, it ends up looking like soapy dish water rather than that luxurious, thick, tickle-your-top-lip kind of froth.

We use Barista Alpro for coconut and soya milk, and Minor Figures for oat milk.


Why does milk curdle in coffee?


Nobody wants sludge bobbing around in their brew, and some plant-based milks have the reputation for curdling easily.

The coffee itself has a big part to play in this as depending on the type of coffee and where the beans are from, alternative milks will curdle in some coffees and not others (it’s not just alternative milks, I’ve also had dairy milk curdle in highly acidic coffee).

If you’ve ever asked, ‘why does soy milk curdle in coffee?’ or, ‘why does almond milk curdle in coffee?’ - these two are notorious curdlers. Especially if you’re making the coffee at home and pouring the milk in cold. 

To avoid the dreaded curdle: warm your plant-based milks before adding to coffee, or let your coffee cool slightly before pouring in the milk. Or, better still, come round to ours for a guaranteed curdle-free, delicious coffee.


Best milk for latte art


We’re talking froth again. But this time fancy froth. 

Because latte art means properly textured, foamed and frothed milk, to get the right kind of definition you need to build the right kind of foam structure.

 In the non-dairy milk world, oat milk is going to get you the best definition (and again, always get barista edition or professional edition milks which include those all important stabilisers).

Even though most baristas are going to want to be able to serve you a drink that not only tastes good, but looks good, because plant-based milks don’t work the same as dairy milk, trying to replicate the same appearance and standard of quality is the big sticking point for a lot of baristas.

Top tip for using plant-based milks for latte art? It sounds obvious, but just remember it's not normal milk. Results are going to be different and that’s okay. When it comes to certain alternative milks, you are not going to make it look pretty. The chemistry and physics of it just does not allow it.

Ultimately, however, it’s important to get a coffee that tastes good rather than looks good. At the end of the day, the latte art is just a garnish and just there to make the drink look pretty. 

Verdict: The best non-dairy barista milk?*


Milk Alternative

Taste Score

Froth Score

Latte Art Score

Overall Score 

Oat milk





Soy milk





Almond milk 





Coconut milk 





*Disclaimer - Alex’s humble opinion.


Truthfully, I like my coffee black. But if you ever see me with a non-dairy coffee drink, you can be sure it will have been made with oat milk. 

At 200 Degrees, we want you to drink your coffee in the way you like it. Whether you come into our shops asking for a Spanish latte with sweetened condensed milk, or a strictly no-milk americano - pick the milk that makes your coffee taste the way you want it to. 

Whenever you ever want to experiment with different kinds of dairy-free milk in coffee, you know who to come to