Unless you drink your coffee black, you probably fall into the 76% of people who enjoy their cup of joe with at least a splash of milk or creamer. For a while, dairy milk seemed like the only option. But as the vegan and non-dairy alternative markets have grown, so have the number of plant-based creamer options: almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk… you name it.
What about coconut milk?
Maybe you’ve run out of your usual creamer go-to and have just a can of coconut milk in your pantry. Maybe you’re looking for the next best, healthiest, and most sustainable milk alternative to drip into your coffee.
Whatever your inquiry, we’re here to break it down from as many angles as possible to answer the question: Can you, and should you, add coconut milk to coffee?
Is coconut milk good in coffee?
Image source: Jessie & Maggie of F5 Method
Like most things in food and drink, there are no hard and fast rules of what you can and cannot substitute in your recipes. Of course you can put coconut milk in coffee coffee, and may people already do. But if you’re still unsure, ask yourself these two things:
- Do you like the flavor of coconut milk and all things coconuts?
- What type of coconut milk are you using?
If the answer to (1) is “no, yuck, I hate it,” then coconut milk in coffee might be a no go. Coconut has a signature profile, and not everyone loves it. That’s okay! But chances are you stumbled upon this article because you like the taste, or at the very least don’t mind it, in which case, it depends what type of coconut milk you’re using.
Not all coconut milks were created equal. If you’re using it from a can, make sure you’re not using the “lite” version. Lite coconut milk has less fat content, but manufacturers will use stabilizers and gums to give it the appearance and thickness of regular coconut milk. Plus, you don’t want to miss out on the potential benefits of coconut milk fat; coconut milk fat makes this non-dairy alternative particularly excellent in coffee because it makes your coffee extra creamy and lends a light sweetness to your morning joe.
In short, the coconut milk you use should be as natural and minimally processed as possible. If you go any other route, you may be unhappy with the quality and taste of your coconut milk coffee. We’ve talked about “lite” canned coconut milk, but we’ll cover the other types later in this article.
Does coconut milk in coffee curdle?
Curdles. Yuck. Even if the coffee tastes the same, no one likes staring into a mug of coffee with chunks of milk floating around. So we tested this in our own Coconut Cloud labs and have determined that coffee acidity is the culprit of curdled milk in coffee. Studies of other non-dairy milk alternatives have found the same finding.
Coffee is acidic, and depending on how it’s roasted and brewed, one cup may have more acid content than another. Acid acts as a coagulant and will curdle any non-dairy milk alternative.
Is coconut milk in coffee good for you?
If you practice a ketogenic diet, coconut milk is an excellent keto coffee creamer. A ketogenic diet means maintaining a diet that’s low-carb and high-fat, and coconut milk is special because it’s higher in fat than any of its vegan milk alternative counterparts. In fact, half of its calories come from fat content. Not the same thing can be said for comparatively water almond or soy milk.
If you don’t practice a ketogenic diet, there’s still reason to rejoice: coconut milk has awesome health benefits. We’ve mentioned the coconut milk is relatively high in fat, but these fats may be a great kind. First, coconut milk fat is high in MCTs – medium-chain triglycerides – which can help you feel fuller after eating, exercise better, and even provide immediate energy to the brain. Coconut milk also contains lauric acid, which has been studied to demonstrate antimicrobial (body defense) properties.
Coconut milk is a great, healthy option to consider incorporating into your diet, but make sure you consult a doctor or dietitian to optimize your diet for your specific health needs.
The Best Coconut Milk for Coffee
First things first: stick to natural, minimally processed coconut milk when choosing a coconut milk for your coffee. It'll taste better, and it'll be better for you.
Canned Coconut Milk
If you open up any can of regular coconut milk, you’ll find a dense “coconut cream” floating at the top. It’s thicker because it’s the part of the milk with the highest fat and protein content. When using canned coconut milk in coffee, we think you should use the cream for an especially luxurious, creamy mouthfeel, but of course you can always blend it with the rest of the liquids in the can for a more liquid consistency to pour into your coffee.
In any case, if you’re having trouble blending coconut milk into your coffee, hand frothers work really great.
Boxed Coconut Milk
It’s coconut milk in a box. Boxed non-dairy milks in general are great if you have storage constraints and have the most value because they typically don’t require refrigeration. There’s a caveat to that though: boxed coconut milk, or coconut milk in a carton, usually contains fillers or stabilizers so that the coconut milk won’t go bad at room temperature. This is not our favorite option, but it really depends on your functional needs.
Powdered Coconut Milk
Our favorite is coconut milk powder or coconut cream powder. Other forms of coconut milk may use stabilizers or fillers to make coconut milk last for a long time, but another solution is to simply take out the water. It’s why coconut cream powder is the primary ingredient in Coconut Cloud, lending a shelf-life of up to 2 years; coconut milk powder in coffee offers higher convenience, all of the goodness of coconut cream.
Coconut milk is great in coffee. But use good ingredients.
The answer to the question, “Can you add coconut milk to coffee?” is an emphatic yes. The answer to the question, “Should you add coconut milk to coffee?” depends on your tastes. As with anything, try to use the highest quality ingredients you can get, and you’ll reap the purest benefits of those foods. When you do, the combination of coconut milk and coffee is a great way to kick off your morning.