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Milk Alternatives for Coffee Drinks, Ranked

Milk Alternatives for Coffee Drinks, Ranked

The Great Milk Debate: Sorting Through the Flurry of Plant-Based Options

As a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, I've always taken my morning cup extremely seriously. And when it comes to what I pour into that sacred brew, let me tell you, I've tried 'em all. From dairy to nut to grain, I've sampled the gamut of milk alternatives, all in pursuit of that perfect creamy complement to my daily dose of caffeine.

Now, I know what you're thinking - how on earth could someone be this passionate about something as mundane as milk in coffee? Well, my friend, let me enlighten you. This is no mere matter of personal preference, oh no. This is a high-stakes battle of flavor, texture, and, dare I say, environmental impact.

You see, I'm not alone in my quest for dairy-free perfection. The world of plant-based milk has exploded in recent years, with options seemingly popping up left and right. And let me tell you, not all of these so-called "milks" are created equal. In fact, some of them are downright disappointing when it comes to the art of coffee crafting.

As one article eloquently put it, the popular oat milk brand Oatly is essentially "sugar water cut with oil" - hardly the stuff of a velvety, foamy latte. And don't even get me started on the coconut milk fiasco I experienced, where the poor thing couldn't even hold a candle to a proper cappuccino.

But fear not, my caffeine-loving friends. I've done the hard work, the taste-testing, the foam-frothing, all in the name of determining the true cream (or should I say, non-cream) of the crop. So, without further ado, let's dive into the rankings of milk alternatives for coffee drinks.

The Cream (or Should I Say, Non-Cream) of the Crop

1. Ripple Barista Series (RIP)

Ah, Ripple. The clear winner in our taste test, this pea protein-based milk was truly a revelation. The foam texture was unparalleled, creating a luscious microfoam that held its shape beautifully. And the flavor? Spot on - rich, creamy, and perfectly complementary to the espresso.

Sadly, this barista-specific version has since been discontinued, but fear not, the original Ripple line is still a worthy contender. As the Serious Eats team raved, "The clear winner on foam texture for both lattes and cappuccinos was a product that was discontinued after our testing - a barista series offering by Ripple."

2. Oatly

Ah, Oatly, the darling of the plant-based milk world. And for good reason! This oat-based wonder managed to earn high marks from our panel for both its consistency and its flavor.

As the Serious Eats team noted, "Oatly scored second-highest marks on consistency for both drinks and its sweet and milky neutral taste was a hit with the tasters."

Now, I know there's been some controversy swirling around Oatly's health claims, but let's be real - a splash of oat milk in your coffee is a far cry from chugging a 20-ounce bottle of soda. As long as you're not guzzling the stuff by the gallon, I say enjoy that creamy, foamy goodness in moderation.

3. Milkadamia

This nut-based milk came in hot on the heels of Oatly, earning praise from our panel for its "cereal milk and vanilla extract" flavor. As the Serious Eats team put it, "The panel liked the sweet and milky neutral taste of Oatly as well as the cereal milk and vanilla extract flavor of Milkadamia."

The only downside? Milkadamia can be a bit harder to track down, at least compared to the ubiquitous Oatly. But if you're willing to do a little online sleuthing, trust me, it's worth the effort.

The Middle-of-the-Road Contenders

4. Silk Soy Milk

Ah, good old Silk Soy Milk. This classic has been a reliable go-to for coffee-lovers for years, and our panel certainly didn't disappoint. While it didn't quite reach the lofty heights of our top three, Serious Eats noted that "Silk was the soy milk of choice back when I was a professional barista in the early-to-mid 2000s and based on our testing, Silk Soy Milk is still a solid standby after all these years."

5. Hemp Milk

Now, this one was a bit of a wild card. As the Serious Eats team described it, "Hemp milk didn't fare so well. The tasters thought it contributed a seedy or leguminous flavor and more than one compared it to fish-oil supplements."

Ooh, fishy lattes - not exactly what I had in mind. But hey, maybe some of you adventurous souls out there will find the unique flavor profile to your liking. Who am I to judge?

The Bottom of the Barrel

6. Coconut Milk

Alas, poor coconut milk. It just couldn't seem to get its act together when it came to our coffee taste test. As the Serious Eats team noted, "Coconut milks scored poorly in general. Neither version held microfoam at all and the milk remained thin so that tasters barely registered a difference between the foam in the latte and the cappuccino."

Thin, watery, and lacking in that all-important creamy texture - not exactly the stuff of coffee dreams. I guess we can't all be winners, huh?

7. Califia Almond Milk

And bringing up the rear, we have the unsweetened Califia Almond Milk. According to the Serious Eats panel, this one was just "off-tasting when mixed with the espresso."

Yikes. I mean, I love a good almond milk in my cereal or smoothie, but in my coffee? Hard pass. Guess I'll be sticking to the top contenders for my daily brew.

The Takeaway: Prioritize Texture and Flavor

So there you have it, folks - the definitive ranking of milk alternatives for your coffee drinks. And let me tell you, it was no easy feat.

As a former barista, I know all too well the importance of that perfect milk-to-espresso ratio. The texture has to be silky smooth, the foam has to be sturdy enough to hold its shape, and the flavor has to complement the coffee without overpowering it.

At our Georgian Coffee House in Brooklyn, we take this art form very seriously. That's why we're always on the hunt for the best plant-based milks to offer our customers. And after this exhaustive taste test, I can confidently say that Ripple, Oatly, and Milkadamia are the cream of the crop (pun intended).

Of course, your personal preferences may vary. Maybe you're more of a soy person, or perhaps you're willing to embrace the, uh, "unique" flavors of hemp milk. But whatever your poison, just remember - when it comes to coffee, texture and flavor are key.

So go forth, my caffeine-loving friends, and experiment to your heart's content. And if you happen to be in the Brooklyn area, be sure to swing by our Georgian Coffee House and let us whip you up a latte (or cappuccino, or flat white, or...) using one of our top-ranked milk alternatives. After all, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right?

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