June 20, 2024

Students vote on the best non-dairy milk option for coffee

As a vegan of a few years, I have had time to feel out the various alternatives for different animal products. More specifically, I have tried my fair share of non-dairy milks, and I’d say I have some pretty strong feelings about them.

Despite drinking the majority of my coffee black, I like to enjoy a latte once in a while. I put the same non-dairy milk in it each time, as I believe it works best. We will reveal my milk of choice later. 

While drinking my go-to non-dairy latte, I found myself wondering if other people agreed with my opinion. This made me decide to see what alternative milk university students preferred in their coffee. 

I quickly created a survey and passed out QR codes that directed students to a page with one simple question: “In your opinion, what is the best non-dairy (alternative) milk in a latte/coffee?” 

Students were given the option to select “almond milk,” “oat milk,” “soy milk,” “coconut milk,” or “I have never tried any of these.” The results of the survey can be seen in the graph below. 

A graph representing student preferences on non-dairy milks in their lattes. Created by Nicholas Van Horn.

Honestly, I can not say I am surprised by the results. Oat milk beat out its other competitors, with a semi-close second being almond. Coconut and soy milk received little love– unsurprisingly, I might add– and a few students said that they had never tried any of the options. 

Let’s get into why these results aren’t so surprising to me, beginning with the answer to the question I’m sure you all have been pondering (since I am an alternative milk connoisseur): which non-dairy milk is my favorite in a latte? Oat milk. And the majority of university students seem to agree! 

Why is oat milk the best in a latte? Well, it checks several boxes. The first box, consistency: when mixed with coffee, it creates the perfect, creamy mouthfeel characteristic of a dairy latte.

The second box, taste: the flavor of the oat milk blends into the background well, mimicking the flavor of a “normal” latte and not distracting from the coffee.

And finally, the third box, appearance: it achieves the rich color of the picture perfect latte. To put that all more simply, oat milk lattes resemble regular lattes most similarly out of all of the non-dairy milks. 

So, why are the other non-dairy milks inferior to oat milk in coffee? Let’s begin with the second favorite, almond milk. Pretty good, but just not quite creamy enough, as it is more watery than oat milk. It also slightly alters the coffee’s flavor without the inclusion of flavored syrups, such as vanilla, to hide behind.

I will add that almond milk is what I choose to put into my cereal or to drink whenever I want a glass of milk. Unfortunately, it just does not work as well in coffee. 

Moving on to soy milk, which does something quite weird in coffee. Many people, including myself, report it giving the coffee a “nutty” flavor. If you are looking for that taste profile, go ahead and add some of it into your coffee. 

Now for the grand loser in my book, coconut milk. Not only does it utterly ruin the flavor with its potent coconut taste, but it also has the consistency of the water sitting in a glass on your nightstand. So, I am not at all surprised that it was not a favorite amongst university students. 

Despite having tried the milks quite extensively, I am not actually a non-dairy milk connoisseur– you don’t have to listen to me and my opinions. Get whatever milk in your coffee that you’d like; but, just in case you weren’t sure what to order next, you now know a little background on each of the non-dairy milks in a latte.

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