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Ask Alisa: Is there a good dairy-free substitute for coffee creamer?

Posted on by Alisa Fleming in Ask Alisa, Nutrition Headlines with 17 Comments

MimicCreme - dairy-free, gluten-freeQ: Mary – As vegetarians, our greatest challenge to becoming vegan is that we deeply enjoy our morning ritual of traditional European coffees and Australian “flat whites” [made with organic milk]. However, our attempts at milk substitutes have not been successful when we have tried hemp, oat, soy, and almond milks — all to no avail. We cannot capture either the mellow flavor enhancement dilution by milk to coffee, nor the creamy texture — and pure coconut milk as a “milk for coffee” substitute also has not worked, as it just makes the coffee oily.

Are there any other potentially viable options out there that we have simply not tried yet?

A: Alisa - It is times like these that I wish I drank coffee, so that I could give everyone a personally taste-tested answer. Nonetheless, I referenced our Non-Dairy Product Lists, researched the brands, and pooled opinions from many coffee drinking friends and fans to give you the best dairy-free creamer options available to date …

But first, it is important to make a quick distinction. Many coffee creamers are labeled as “Non-Dairy” but they are not actually dairy-free by ingredients. With foods such as whipped topping and creamers the term non-dairy may be used if the product contains 0.5% or less milk by weight, in the form of casein / caseinates (milk protein) (reference: Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook). These products may be okay for many lactose intolerant individuals, but could still be a problem for people who are allergic / sensitive to milk (since casein is the most allergenic protein within milk) and for those seeking truly dairy-free or vegan products specifically.

The following suggestions do not contain any dairy in the ingredients (casein, whey, lactose, etc.), but as with all products, do your homework if milk cross-contamination is a concern for you. Counterintuitive as it may seem, many dairy alternatives are made (or packaged) in shared facilities or on shared lines with their dairy-based counterparts.

Milk Alternatives

I have heard from many people who simply enjoy almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk beverage, or just a touch of regular coconut milk in their coffee. Though these may be rich enough, milk alternatives frequently separate in hot liquids and they don’t have the same mouth feel as commercially made creamers. For some coffee lovers this is not a problem, but for others like Mary, dairy-free creamers have been invented …

Dairy-Free Creamers – Top Picks

So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer – I have heard the most raves about this product in terms of taste and quality. People seem to love splashing coconut creamer into their morning cuppa joe. I have also heard from two different bloggers that it makes a mean batch of ice cream. Unfortunately, the price is a big deterrent for many. It isn’t the cheapest option out there, erring more on the side of a splurge. Also, it can be harder to find since it is refrigerated and must be purchased in stores. But, for the coffee connoisseur, this may be worth the extra effort and expense. This creamer is labeled as vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. For information: www.turtlemountain.com

MimicCreme - dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free

MimicCreme (Discontinued) – This is an interesting one because MimicCreme actually has a dairy-free coffee creamer, but all of the people who have recommended this brand to me for coffee actually purchased the regular MimicCreme, which comes in the larger packages in unsweetened, sweetened, and sugar-free sweetened.

When I initially responded to our questioner, Mary, I sent her several recommendations. She chose to purchase MimicCreme. Mary was kind enough to report back with her opinion … “The MimicCreme arrived from Amazon.com today. The verdict: AMAZING!!! The MimicCreme works really well with coffee as it is extremely rich in texture, and it complements the coffee in creating the cafe au lait shading that is so inviting in many coffee drinks, both hot and cold. Additionally, MimicCreme froths nicely, even as it is rich and heavy in texture.” Like the others, Mary bought the regular unsweetened MImicCreme, not the one labeled as coffee creamer. We have yet to receive votes on that one.

MimicCreme is shelf stable, so you can order it online and stock-up if you find a good price. This is a nut-based creamer (almonds and cashews), and it is labeled as 100% vegan, gluten-free, and non-soy.

**MimicCreme closed their doors in late 2012 with the hope of reopening when they found a production facility. We haven’t heard any good news of their return as of yet. 

MimicCreme - dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Silk Soy Creamer – This seems to be the coffee creamer of choice for those not willing to pay the higher price for coconut creamer, or who simply prefer the taste and texture. Silk has been around longer than any other dairy-free creamer that I know of, and it has therefore gained quite the following. Plus, it is relatively easy to find in most cities; even major grocers often carry Silk brand soy creamer. Like the coconut creamer, it is sold in little cartons in the refrigerated section. According to the Silk website, this product is vegan and gluten-free. For more information: www.silksoymilk.com

MimicCreme - dairy-free, gluten-free

Additional Creamer Options

And, there are some brands which we haven’t received any feedback on as of yet …

Wildwood Soy Creamer – This is the only “made with organic soymilk” creamer. It is sold in little refrigerated cartons like Silk. For more information: www.pulmuonewildwood.com

SoyGo Soy Creamer – Need some on-the-go packets of dairy-free creamer? Meet SoyGo. For information and to purchase: www.savingopusone.com

Pacific Foods Blenders – These are apparently intended mostly for baristas, but you can buy this dairy-free creamer on Amazon.

Trader Joe’s Soy Creamer – You can view the ingredients and a review of this product here.

Taam Tov Instant Creamer – This one can be hard to locate, but it is a powdered non-dairy creamer that is truly non-dairy. It is has been noted as kosher parve (OU) and vegan.

Want more options for dairy alternatives? Dairy-free coffee creamers, milks, ice creams, cheeses, sour creams, and more can be found in all of the Non-Dairy Product Lists and are the focus of the “Just the Subs” Product List for Multiple Food Allergens. Trust me, there are more options in these lists then you have ever imagined!

For more dairy-free Q&A topics, see our Ask Alisa Page.

 

Alisa Fleming is the founder of GoDairyFree.org and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. In addition to her own dairy-free lifestyle, Alisa has experience in catering to the needs of various special diets, including gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan, and multiple food allergies.

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MimicCreme - dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free

About Alisa Fleming

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

View all posts by Alisa Fleming →

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

17 Comments

  1. KerryJanuary 2, 2013 at 10:08 amReply

    I very much appreciate your reviews on these products. I’ve been on the hunt for a good dairy free creamer and so far the only thing I’ve tried is silk. Hated it! Too sweet! And I made sure not to get a flavored version. Oh well. My fear is that I won’t like anything that I try as they will all be too sweet. None of the research I’ve done mentions whether one takes sugar in their coffee. I got really excited about a concoction someone said you can make from scratch, but when i started reading their recipe they had the addition of agave syrup. No! Just curious, which creamer you’d recommend that won’t sweeten my coffee. Thanks.

    • Alisa FlemingJanuary 2, 2013 at 11:13 amReplyAuthor

      Kerry, I believe a few of the ones listed above come in unsweetened. Some people simply opt to use a rich milk beverage, like coconut milk beverage in the carton in an unsweetened variety in place of creamer.

  2. Jessie NievesJanuary 4, 2013 at 10:45 amReply

    I have gotten into the habit of using coconut milk (from a can, not the beverage. I find the beverage too watery) for my coffee. It is glorious and coconut fat is a good fat that actually boosts your metabolism and immunity.

  3. DanMay 1, 2013 at 1:38 pmReply

    I really appreciate the research that you did, but as a recent vegan, and as someone who has spent more than a decade in the specialty coffee industry, I have to say that So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer tastes nothing like half & half, and does not come close to the taste or the mouthfeel of real cream. And it tastes like coconut. Who wants coconut in a great cup of coffee? Unfortunately, nothing else tastes like cream either. The only product on your list that I have not tried is MimicCream, which I will order online. So far, drinking my coffee black is better than any of the cream alternatives, but it is just not as satisfying as real half & half.

  4. Renee MuellerJune 17, 2013 at 9:01 amReply

    Hi Dan, Did you try the MimicCream? Did you like it? Thanks, Renee

  5. ShellyJuly 15, 2013 at 1:39 pmReply

    I love my coffee mate French vanilla but since it has casein in it, I created something similar. I added one package of unprepared French vanilla pudding mix to a carton of mocha mix and it treats great!

    • Alisa FlemingJuly 15, 2013 at 3:06 pmReplyAuthor

      Great suggestion, thanks for sharing Shelly!

  6. carolSeptember 12, 2013 at 8:01 amReply

    Whats the best milk substitute for frothing in a latte? Almond mild did not froth

    • ElysiaSeptember 30, 2013 at 3:02 pmReply

      I like my coffee with a splash of Silk or Trader Joe’s soy creamer (tho I’m currently looking for a soy-free alternative) and a spoonful unrefined coconut oil. I know a lot of people like just straight oil & no creamer but I like mine a little creamier. It adds a lovely texture & froth to the coffee, plus a delicate hint of coconut. Start with a very small amount and work your way up, as some people can feel hot from it because it boosts your metabolism.
      You have to emulsify it in, either w/an immersion blender, in a regular blender, or shake manually.
      If you don’t want to mess w/a blender, put the creamer & oil in a large glass jar w/tight fitting lid and microwave uncovered for ~20-30 secs. Put the lid on TIGHTLY and give it a shake. Now crack the lid to release the pressure, reseal & shake vigorously until it’ severe frothy. Now pour the coffee into the jar and enjoy! You can also pour the mixture into your coffee in a mug but sometimes it separately slightly so I prefer a larger container to swill it back together.
      Cheers!
      PS There is also a trend starting with Bulletproof coffee (emulsifying organic/grassfed butter & coconut oil into coffee – no cream). I tried it but found the butter element too rich/almost gaggy for me, but I know a lot of people like it. I read about it on Wellness Mama.

      • Alisa FlemingSeptember 30, 2013 at 6:17 pmReplyAuthor

        Thanks for sharing Elysia! If you haven’t tried it yet, a soy-free option for the creamer portion of your blend is So Delicious coconut milk creamer. I’ve heard good things about it.

        • ElysiaSeptember 30, 2013 at 7:09 pmReply

          Thanks!! I’ll try that. I tried their regular coconut milk before and didn’t like it but it sounds like the creamer is different. The Mimic Cream sounds interesting too…
          Thanks for the info!

    • ElysiaSeptember 30, 2013 at 3:03 pmReply

      I just posted a comment about coconut oil – meant to reply directly to you…
      :-)

  7. JaneDecember 21, 2013 at 8:05 amReply

    Thanks for these suggestions. I have a violent reaction to casein. Will try the MimicCreme. I was using soymilk until I made the connection between it and my itchy, watering eyes and wheezing. I started using almond milk but it just doesn’t do it. This is all very helpful. Thank you.

  8. CallistaMarch 29, 2014 at 4:40 pmReply

    Mimiccreme is no longer available…. I do not know why… I am trying to find out….

    • Alisa FlemingMarch 29, 2014 at 4:59 pmReplyAuthor

      According to Wikipedia, they closed their doors in late 2012, and were looking for a new manufacturing facility. They haven’t resurfaced since, but I think so much of their product was still in distribution in 2013 that we’re just now feeling the product loss.

  9. JacquelineMarch 30, 2014 at 8:44 amReply

    I have some of the same complaints about all the atlernative “milks” and found none of them tasted good at all in my coffee. I am allergic to soy, I hate coconut, and the hemp, rice, wheat, and almond didn’t appeal to my taste buds, and I had to use too much to get the color I desired in my French roast coffee. I have tried Mimic and it was OK, but not easy to find. I am nearly vegan, but in addition, I have a health requirement that I must have soy-free, dairy-free, cholesterol/fat free products to replace dairy. It’s really challenging! I also prefer organic and that’s challenging as well. Thanks for all your tips, and I’ll keep searching for the right product for my morning coffee.

  10. PaulineSeptember 2, 2014 at 11:26 amReply

    Dear Alisa,

    Thank you for your research and suggestions. Trying to convert to veganism I was very interested and will look for So Delicious creamer and also try canned coconut milk as suggested by one of the comments. Right now I just use whatever plant milk I happen to be using and have found it is just a matter of taste adjustment. I also find I enjoy and taste a really good cup of coffee more (and I drink decaf) with the lighter milks. It’s just getting used to it. My main reason for writing though is that I noticed Silk was mentioned quite a bit and I wanted to make you and your readers aware, if you weren’t already, that the White Wave Silk company is no longer organic and was bought up by big-food industrial giant Dean. They have also inconspicuously changed the wording on their cartons from organic to natural. For more info on this and other companies, go to http://www.blacklistednews.com/Organic_Food_Industry_Bought_Up_By_Corporations_Like_Coca_Cola_/18768/0/0/0/Y/M.html. Hope this is helpful.

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