Alternative milk coffee sampling

Cressida checks out how well some of the many alternative milks on the market work in that all important cappuccino...

Vegan foods

The UK spent an extra £53.5 million on dairy alternatives last year, with coconut and nut milk sales increasing by 43% to almost equal those of soya milk (Kantar Worldpanel).

So it is timely that we also managed to try every single dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk (excepting quinoa, macadamia and tiger nut milks) in coffee, using a proper barista’s coffee machine! It’s something we should have done years ago, but to be fair we may not have had such a wide range at our disposal: there would not have been rice, coconut, rice-coconut, hemp, hazelnut, almond, soya, cashew, and oat.

The results of two hours of frothing and brewing are all below, but to cut to the chase:

Fat: all the dairy alternatives are fairly low fat. Ranging from rice milks at 1.1g / 100ml through hazelnut at 1.3g, oat milk at 1.5g, soya at 1.9g and hemp or cashew at 2.9g. The coconut milks, which should be very high fat, are in fact all relatively low as they are all heavily diluted.

In terms of fortification - a concern for children using alternative milks - only soya milk is currently fortified.

And as regards protein, only the nut milks offer a reasonable amount (around 2g/100ml as opposed to cow’s milk’s 3.5g); oat and rice milks have negligible amounts.

Why ARE people switching to dairy alternatives?

A few reasons – there are many voluntary restricters who choose not to drink cow’s milk for health reasons, or because they do not like intensive dairy farming which includes disrupting the social nature of cows, prophylactic use of antibiotics, pasteurization and homogenisation of milk.

Added to this there has been a sharp rise in veganism in the UK (350% increase over the last 10 years, Vegan Society), as more people become aware of the reality of the pain and suffering of animals in the meat and dairy industries, how farming impacts the environment and climate.

Why should people switch to dairy alternatives?

In terms of stats, in 2010 the World Allergy Organization estimated that approximately 2 - 5% of all children suffer from cows’ milk protein allergy, to which the EAACI (The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) added in 2014 that 6% of the entire European population has cow's milk allergy.

In 2014, Zenith International (a food & drink consultancy) estimated that 70-75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, while American Medical News Today states: “Levels of lactose intolerance vary between individuals, with an estimated 15% of people of northern European descent, 80% of blacks and Hispanics, and up to 100% of Asians and First Nations people unable to produce lactase.”
In terms of milks and lactose intolerance, you can also get lactose-reduced milk - the best-known UK brand is Lactofree. This is just cow’s milk with the lactose sugar removed so it retains all the nutritional value of cow’s milk. It also performs perfectly well in coffee!!

Fat levels all per 100ml

Oatly Foam-able fat 3g:
Excellent foam, hard to tell from cow's milk.
Milk holds together well and has pleasant, very slightly nutty flavour; disguises the tannins/bitterness.

Oatly fat 1.5g:
A loose, large-bubbled froth, holds cocoa powder sprinkle.
Milk very slightly separates after heating.
Thin milk, minimally sweet, slightly grassy taste, disguises the tannins/bitterness.

Provitamil Oat Drink fat 1.2g:
No froth.
No milk separation.
Thin milk, minimally sweet, slightly grassy taste, disguises the tannins/bitterness.

Koko DF fat 2g:
No froth.
No separation of milk.
Thin milk, not sweet, very slight coconut taste, doesn’t disguise the tannins, hence slightly bitter coffee

Provamel Organic Bio Rice-Coconut (unsweetened) fat 0.9g:
No froth.
No milk separation.
Very think milk, tastes sweet, renders coffee a dark colour due to the thinness of milk.
Sweetness does disguise tannins.

Rude Health Brown Rice Organic Unsweetened (no thickeners) fat 1.4g:
No froth.
No separation.
Tastes sweet, thin milk, sweetness disguises tannins.

Rude Health Hazelnut (2%) drink (Unsweetened) with Rice fat 1.3g:
1 millimetre of froth.
No separation of milk.
Average thickness of milk, tastes sweet, disguises the tannins, very slightly nutty.

Plenish Organic Cashew (6%) (Unsweetened) fat 2.9g:
A loose, large-bubbled froth, holds cocoa powder sprinkle.
No separation.
Average thickness of milk, totally unsweet, no taste of cashews, disguises the tannins.

Rude Health Ultimate Almond (6%) (Unsweetened) fat 3.2g:
A little, tight, small-bubbled froth, holds cocoa powder.
No separation of milk.
Totally unsweet, no taste of nuts or tannins.
Thick creamy milk (like cow’s milk)

Good Hemp fat 2.8g:
No froth.
No milk separation.
Average thickness of milk, not sweet at all.

Provamel Organic Bio Rice fat 1.1g:
No froth.
No separation.
Thin milk, average sweeteness, sweetness disguises tannins.

Rice Dream Original Organic fat 1.1g:
No froth.
No separation.
Thin milk, average sweetness.

Alpro Organic Soya fat 1.9g:
Froth tight, small-bubbled, holds cocoa powder well.
No separation.
Thick milk (like cow’s milk).
Totally unsweet.

November 2016

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