The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Your Favorite Coffee Drink Turned Vegan

Posted on November 27, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Ashley Kerckhoff, BS

When I lived in California, there was this quaint little Cuban restaurant in Old Town that had the best latte and cortadito! For those who don’t know, a cortadito is a shot of espresso with added warm milk and sugar given in a small espresso cup. The latte also contained milk and sugar, which is typical when ordering a latte (although sometimes sweetener is not added unless requested). I enjoyed these regularly, that is until I became vegan and no longer desired my coffee to contain dairy. From that point on, I was on a search to find a great vegan latte (my drink of choice). To my pleasant surprise, there were many options in the coffee house for a vegan. The non-dairy request from coffee customers seems to be getting more popular as most coffee houses I’ve been to have a non-dairy milk option that can be substituted for cow’s milk. Those I’ve come across are almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, and macadamia nut milk. While the latter two may be a little harder to find, almond and soy milk are quite common. Personally, I choose soy over almond milk as soy milk tends to come out creamier when steamed and added to a drink. Side tip: some coffee houses, like Starbucks, use a sweetened soy milk, so if you do not like your coffee sweetened, opt for another non-dairy milk and make sure to politely ask the barista to check the label for added sugars!

While vegans can be very mindful about the type of milk in their coffee, other potential non-vegan added ingredients to be aware of are caramel and chocolate sauces, whipped cream, and protein powder added to smoothies. These ingredients usually contain either milk or cream and sometimes butter. It’s perfectly okay to politely ask the barista how these ingredients are made; however, just be patient if she/he needs to confirm with a coworker or get back to you after finding your answer. A lot of times employees do not know the exact ingredients used to make a standard chocolate sauce, for example, so be understanding and kind if they do not know. If this happens, stay on the safe side and simply opt out of that Mocha Frappuccino. Instead, sweeten a cold brew coffee with a non-dairy milk and sugar. Trust me, it still tastes just as great!

For information on quick service chains and some of their vegan offerings, see:

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