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Milk Alternatives at Indy Coffee Shops | Indianapolis Coffee Guide

Milk Alternatives

April 16, 2021

Where to Find Milk Alternatives in Indy Coffee Shops

Dairy milk? Never heard of her.

Dear Diary Dairy,

Listen, you’re not here for me to yak on-and-on about milk, are you? I could write a bunch of content for you to skim or make a million jokes about cashews but now’s nut really the time. So I’ll just give you what you came here for: here’s where we’ve found non-dairy milk alternatives in Indianapolis coffee shops.

(Also technically, these aren’t “milks” but for all intents and purposes, I’m calling them “milks,” ya dig?)

Where to Find Non-Dairy Milks in Indy Coffee Shops

Almond Milk

Macadamia

Coconut Milk

  • Bovaconti
  • Coffeehouse Five
  • Command Coffee
  • Hubbard & Cravens
  • Indie Coffee Roasters
  • Lulu’s Coffee & Bakehouse
  • The Mocha Nut
  • Monon Coffee Company
  • Prufrock
  • Rose & Lois
  • The Well Coffeehouse

Soy

  • Bovaconti
  • Command Coffee
  • The Mocha Nut
  • Monon Coffee
  • Noble Coffee & Tea
  • Quills
  • Perk Up
  • Rabble

Oat

Am I missing something?

Slide into my DMs on Instagram, and I’ll make any corrections! @indianapoliscoffee

Milk Alternatives for Coffee

As the specialty coffee world is blossoming, more and more new cups are coming to our tables to share great coffee with us. With those cups come coffee drinkers with new palettes, preferences, and some dietary restrictions. So it makes sense that we’re constantly adapting and providing new ways for our new friends to enjoy coffee with us.

One of the easiest ways to take a tasty ginger latte and adapt it for any dietary restriction is by tossing out the traditional cow’s milk and replacing it with one of the many available alternatives. Now, there is a lot more science and dietary information that goes along with these substitutess, but I won’t get super into those today. If you wanna know more, I’ve got plenty of resources, so let me know!

The Rise of Oat Milk

In the last few years, oat milk as a milk substitute has become increasingly popular, and its popularity can be contributed to a handful of reasons. Coffee drinkers tend to prefer oat milk over dairy because it is vegan, it is almost always safe for people with food allergies, and it has a substantially smaller environmental impact than traditional cow’s milk. From a taste perspective, cafés also typically use barista versions of oat milk that are made to mimic many of the properties we enjoy about cow’s milk.

Oat milk is usually my go-to when I’m feeling adventurous and order a fancy latte. I’m not always a fan of dairy milk, and oat milk has this really creamy and slightly sweet taste that pairs well with the drinks I normally tend to order (pistachio lattes from Coat Check, chai lattes from Lulu’s, mochas at Indie Coffee Roasters, etc.).

Nut Milks

Nut milks—almond, cashew, and macadamia—are also often found in cafés as milk alternatives. These nut-based milks can also be a great alternative for vegan coffee drinkers or those with certain food allergies. They also are lauded as having a lower impact on the environment than traditional dairy, though there is a lot of debate around this.

One fun thing about nut milks is that they tend to be easier to make in-house, allowing cafés to be creative with their recipes and to offset costs of ordering from a distributor. Pre-pandemic, Coat Check and Provider offered a creamy house-made cashew milk in their drinks that was out of this world—fingers crossed for its eventual return! Amberson Coffee + Grocer in Fletcher Place currently offers a house-made macadamia/rice milk substitute that is out of this world.

Soy Milk

Remember 5 years ago when our only options were milk or soy? Seems like just yesterday we were in a soy daze, and I was fully onboard. This creamy milk alternative is another low-impact choice that is really creamy and packed with almost as much protein as regular milk. Though I don’t see it available nearly as often as I used to, I used to get it all the time because it has a creamy and almost nutty flavor to it that pairs well with certain drinks.

Similar to oat milk, there are ‘barista’ or ‘professional’ versions of soy milk out there that cafés use because they are better for steaming, are often thicker/sweeter, or may have a better taste to pair with coffee than store-bought soy.

Coconut Milk

I need to be honest with you: a lot of local coffee shops offer coconut milk as a milk alternative, and I haven’t tried it yet. From the conversations I’ve had, cafégoers tend to like coconut milk because of its sweetness and its coconutty flavor. A few of few on Instagram told me a coconut milk latte is kind of like getting a regular latte with coconut syrup in it, which actually sounds pretty good to me.

I’ve also noticed that coconut milk tends to find its way into a lot of flavored seasonal drinks. If you’re feeling adventurous and maybe a little flirty, there are quite a few Indy cafés where you can try coconut milk in your next latte.

Milk Science

Listen, I’m not the right person to get into milk science (though I have heard rumors that Courtney Thompson, co-owner of new Certain Feelings, has a badass milk powerpoint). But I will remind you that there is a science to all of these milks. One of the smattering of things baristas are trained on is the proper steaming of milk, and all of these non-dairy milk alternatives have their own nuances that baristas have to adapt to. In my day, I have actually tried to steam milk before, and let me tell you, it is not easy or fun. Even after the steaming, pouring a beautiful latte is a whole other talent, but we’ll save that for another day.