How to Pair Plant Based Milk with Coffee


A plant based diet doesn’t mean forgoing your morning coffee, however some vegan milks pair better with coffee than others.

Here we are going to go through the best plant based milks to have with coffee, looking at both filter coffee, and coffee drinks that require steamed milk like latte and cappuccino.

What Makes Milk Go Well With Coffee?

Before we go in depth on specific plant based milks, it's worth looking at why dairy milk goes well with coffee, and then look at how far each plant milk has these characteristics.

There are four reasons why dairy milk pairs well with coffee:

  • Its fat content: This gives texture and body to your coffee

  • Its protein content: This binds with some of the tannins in coffee, softening and rounding off its more bitter notes.

  • Its neutral flavor: This allows you to still fully taste your coffee even after adding milk to it.

  • Its ability to withstand high temperatures without curdling: This means that you can add milk

  • The closer a plant milk matches dairy milk in terms of these characteristics, the better it will go with coffee.

    The table below shows how all of the common plant milks fare across these characteristics:

    Type of Milk

    Flavor Profile (when unsweetened)

    Sugar Content

    Fat Content

    Protein Content

    Curdle Point (temperature)

    Dairy (semi skimmed)






    95 Celsius



    0.4% (sucrose)



    60 Celsius



    7% (maltose)



    70 Celsius







    70 Celsius



    1.25% (sucrose)



    65 Celsius



    3.3% (sucrose)



    65 Celsius



    5% (sucrose)



    60 Celsius






    75 Celsius

    Which Plant Milk Pairs Best With Filter Coffee?

    If you’re just adding a dash of milk to a coffee made in a cafetiere, drip coffee, or Americano, then your best options are oat milk, pea milk or cashew milk.

    Each of these milks have their quirks compared to dairy milk. They are:

    • Oat milk: You’ll need to add slightly more oat milk to your coffee than you would dairy milk, since oat milk has a lower fat content than dairy.

    • Pea milk: You might want to add a small amount of sugar or sweetener to coffee with pea milk since pea milk doesn’t have a naturally sweet taste.

  • Cashew milk: You might want to use a bit less cashew milk than you would dairy since cashew milk has a higher fat content than dairy and will more significantly alter your coffee’s texture.

  • Soy milk can also be a good choice to add to coffee. Its main problem is its low curdling temperature, so if you are going to use soy milk then you want to wait until your coffee is at drinking temperature before you add your milk.

    Which Plant Milk is Best For Frothing and Steaming

    Oat milk is significantly the best plant milk for frothing into a latte or cappuccino.

    For a milk to froth well it needs to have a relatively high protein content and low fat content.

    Milk stretches when you steam it because its proteins literally stretch out. If your milk has a low protein content then it can’t expand when you steam it.

    Fat lowers these protein’s ability to stretch. This makes cashew milk a bad option for steaming, despite being a good option to add to a filter coffee.

    Oat milk has the best balance of protein and fat for stretching. It also has the natural sweetness that you’d expect from foamed dairy milk (this sweetness in steamed dairy occurs because heat breaks down its lactose into sweeter sucrose).

    Coconut milk also has the right fat and protein makeup for frothing, however it will give your latte a noticeably different taste to what you’ll be used to with dairy. Coconut milk lattes tend to split opinion - some people love them and some people hate them. 

    What About Barista Milks?

    If you’ve been off dairy for a while you may have noticed some brands bringing out plant based “barista milks”.

    These are just plant based milks (almost always oat milk) with added protein in them - usually from peas.

    They are a really good option if you’re going to be drinking a lot of steamed milk drinks. However if you’re not into these types of drinks (or don’t have an espresso machine that can steam milk) then I’d just stick to regular plant milk as barista milks are typically more expensive than plain milks.

    Wrapping Up

    The best plant based milk to have with coffee is oat milk. This is particularly true if you’re going to steam milk for a latte or cappuccino.

    Cashew milk and pea milk (if you can get your hands on it) are also good options to have with a filter coffee.

    Now you know which vegan milks to pair with coffee, why not take a look at our range of coffee beans.


    Written by: 

    Oli Baise