Coffee: the morning elixir millions of us need to get a good start to our days. But even though coffee is delicious and a great way to jumpstart your energy in the morning, vegans always have to ask: is coffee really okay to drink? After all, some people claim that coffee isn’t vegan for one reason or another. Is that because of coffee itself, or because of what we often put in it?
Today, let’s get to the bottom of this question and break down whether vegans can drink coffee in any form.
Coffee – Is It Vegan?
Coffee as it’s commonly consumed in America – that is, brewed from ground or crushed coffee beans rather than made using the espresso method and mixed with milk – is vegan by default. Coffee beans are harvested from coffee plants, then the beans are crushed or ground up and mixed with hot water. The resulting brew is the coffee you drink.
So, there’s no need to worry about black coffee ever not being vegan, at least from an ingredient standpoint. However, many types of European coffee, such as lattes, cappuccinos, and more are not vegan since they include milk normally.
You can make these beverages using milk alternatives (more on those below), though.
Fair Trade Coffee is the Way to Go
While coffee itself may be vegan from an ingredient’s standpoint, there’s another thing to consider: how the coffee was cultivated and harvested. Many vegans only consume products that are not harmful to the environment or to animals. For example, some vegans don’t consume products that include palm oil, as most companies that harvest palm oil do so in an unsustainable way that harms the environment.
Many types of commercial coffee are cultivated are harvested using non-sustainable methods, both for humans and animals. Because of this, vegans looking to enjoy a cup of coffee every morning should specifically target fair trade beans or brands. Fair trade coffee is any coffee that is certified as having been produced with business transparency, dialogue between workers and owners, and mutual respect.
In other words, fair trade coffee brands treat their workers well, practice sustainable harvesting methods where possible, and do not abuse the environment. These are all great things that vegans looking to minimize their impact on the Earth should look for.
Luckily, there are tons of great fair trade coffee brands available these days, even from major organizations like Starbucks. So finding yourself some fair trade coffee shouldn’t be too difficult.
What About Coffee Creamers or Flavors?
Some people think that coffee isn’t vegan because of the additional creamers or flavors you might add to your brew to change its taste or to make it a little more palatable.
Naturally, the majority of coffee creamers or flavors are made with dairy or heavy cream normally. If you add a regular coffee creamer or flavor to your cuppa joe, then it’s no longer vegan and you’ll have to dump it out.
That said, there are plenty of other milk alternatives you can use as vegan creamers in your coffee. These include:
- Almond milk, which has a semi-sweet and nutty flavor. However, you also need to pay attention to environmental friendliness when choosing almond milk; many almonds are grown in areas at risk of drought, like California, and they require lots of water to mature
- Cashew milk, which is a super creamy but thin milk. It also has a nutty flavor and lots of nutrients
- Flaxseed milk, which has a nutty tone and which can amplify the natural flavors of your coffee
- Macadamia milk, which is a little fruity but quite smooth
- Oat milk, which is a natural sweetener and is thicker than most other vegan milks. This is very popular at coffee shops around the world, so you can easily get it while you’re out and about
- Rice milk, which is a light milk with a translucent appearance and a semi-sweet flavor
- Hemp milk, which is thin and creamy and which has a slightly nutty flavor. In fact, it’s pretty similar to almond milk
- Soy milk, which is nutritionally dense and protein-packed. You can also find soy milk at a variety of coffee shops these days
- Coconut milk, which is rich in flavor and very creamy but which has a distinct taste that will not be everyone’s favorite
- Pea milk, which is extremely nutritious and which features a relatively neutral flavor, which could be beneficial if you want to taste your coffee more than anything else
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to add milk or cream or to your coffee without compromising your vegan diet.
What about sugar? We’ve broken down the best sugar alternatives for vegan coffee drinkers. This way, you can avoid eating sugar filtered with bone char. Check out our breakdown today.
How to Drink Vegan Coffee Like a Pro
So, coffee’s back on the table! Let’s break down how you can drink vegan coffee like a pro without making any mistakes:
- First, be sure to brew your coffee at home when possible. This saves energy and you’ll save money by purchasing pre-ground or whole beans. A single bag of coffee might cost you $10 and make dozens of cups while a single big coffee drink from a coffee shop could cost the same amount of cash
- Buy your coffee beans from fair trade coffee companies. This will minimize the environmental impact your coffee consumption has
- Then use one of the above vegan milks after researching their manufacturer or parent company. That way, you can be sure that you are supporting environmentally sustainable companies. You may need to try several of the milks before you settle on your favorite
There you have it – a surefire way to continue to enjoy your morning caffeine hit without having to cheat as a vegan. For more guides about how to eat smartly as a vegan, or if you want to check out some at-home vegan recipes, check out Cook Gem’s vegan recipes today!