“Would you like cream with that?” was once a simple question. But with the quick and rapid growth of alternative milks since the early 2000s, that question is now a bit more complex. There are various reasons for the changes in the milk world—ethical, moral and health-related. But one thing is for sure: The alternative milk revolution is here to stay.
Illustrations by Rebecca Phillips. Hand lettering by Emma Meskovic.
Soy has long been king in the alternative milk realm. This milk is made from soybeans, so while you will get all the calcium with half the fat, the taste does take some time to get used to. Being the first mainstay of alternative milk, the taste can turn people off to making the switch from dairy.
Best uses: Add to drip coffee if you like a little cream in your coffee.
Almond may be the best known of today’s alternative milks. Much like almonds in their original nut state, almond milk has high sweetness and fat content. It is has the most taste commonality with dairy milk, making it a great milk substitute.
Best uses: Very versatile in drip coffee or steamed in your favorite latte.
If soy and almond have been king, oat milk is a serious threat to the throne. Oat milk has had a rapid rise in popularity over the last few years due to its creamy consistency, especially when steamed into milk. Oat milk does tend to have high amounts of carbohydrates and sugars, but also has higher amounts of calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins A and D.
Best uses: Try this in your daily cortado.
Hemp milk is relatively new to the alt milk scene, but this high-protein substitute will gain in popularity very quickly. It has more calcium than dairy milk and packs a punch of omega-3. The mixture of seeds will give you a nutty taste that’s lighter than almond and not as much sugar as oat milk.
Best uses: Try a dab of this in your next iced coffee.
Coconut milk has long been the glue in vegan baking and cooking. Known for its bright sweetness, coconut milk gives a sweet bomb to any drink. While those with a sweet tooth may prefer this, it can overpower the tasting notes of coffee—which is why many shops do not consistently carry this as an option.
Best uses: Need a sweet boost? Try this in your morning brew.
Benji K. Fulfer is a creative, artist and adventurer from Memphis. He has spent over three years in speciality coffee in various roles, from barista to quality control to brewmaster to educator to community engagement. This is because, much like life, a full experience makes the perfect cup of coffee.
From pencil to the pen tool, Rebecca Phillips is a full time artist in the city of Memphis. @rlwphillips
Emma Meskovic is the queen of all trades at Edible Memphis. You can find her posting on social media, managing print files, designing ads or editing the website. You can also find her standing on a chair, taking photos of her food and proclaiming, “Sorry! This is my job!” @emmamesk