Whether you’re looking to open a vegan coffee shop, or you just want to add some more vegan options to your menu, your first order of business should be to stock up on plant-based milks, like almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, and others! There are tons of ways to make good coffee, without the inclusion of dairy products.
Veganism is rising in popularity as of late—for many reasons. Some are switching to reduce the amount of inflammatory foods in their diets, and to improve their health; some are switching to avoid contributing to carbon emissions, and to protect the environment; and some are concerned about animal rights, and the conditions in which dairy animals are living.
However, the transition to a plant-based diet is not always easy. As with any dietary change, your body will have to get used to the new foods you’re eating, and the foods you’re no longer eating. Additionally, you’ll need to become educated on the best ways to transition from your regular diet to a plant-based diet, as without proper preparation and awareness, you’re likely to face difficulty making it through the transition process, and sticking to your new diet.
Switching to plant-based nutrition has numerous benefits, but many who consider going dairy-free ultimately avoid doing so, because of one thing they can’t give up: cream in their coffee. Coffee is a staple in so many diets—There are addicts out there (you know who you are) who can’t imagine getting through a day without their usual, whole-milk-infused java fix.
But, drinking vegan coffee doesn’t necessarily mean drinking it black. By providing vegan options in your coffee shop, you can not only provide great tasting drinks for your vegan customers, but you can also prove that “vegan coffee” doesn’t have to taste bad. With the plant-based milk options now available, a bit of creativity, the willingness to give these drinks a try—and your trusty espresso machine, of course—you’ll find you can make some incredible vegan concoctions.
Here are 10 of my absolute favorites for you to play around with.
1. Flat White with Plant-Based Milk
Flat whites are one of my favorite espresso drinks because of the possibility of latte art! Flat whites are made by putting a double shot of espresso into a glass or mug with steamed milk, and pouring the milk into the glass with the espresso. Flat whites are one of my favorites because the milk is always so velvety—even with plant-based milks. I find that oat milk is one of the best for flat whites, because it adds a bit of sweetness that is lost with plain almond or soy milk.
2. Gingerbread Latte
Just in time for fall and the upcoming holiday season, you could add a gingerbread latte to your menu. You can make your own gingerbread syrup with fresh ginger root, a cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, ground nutmeg, allspice berries, water, and sugar. Traditionally, one would use honey, but you can substitute it with agave to maintain the sweetness.
In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and sweetener over high heat. Then stir in the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it summer for 25 to 30 minutes. Then let it cool for 20 minutes before straining it through a sieve or cheesecloth.
If you don’t feel like making it yourself or want to save time, you could also buy the Monin Gingerbread Syrup, and still be able to offer a warm gingerbread latte to your customers during the holiday season. You can also stock up on the pumpkin spice-flavored syrup, and make your own version of the ever-popular pumpkin-spiced latte, or any other fall-inspired drink recipes!
3. Hazelnut Coconut Milk Latte
The hazelnut coconut milk latte is a great addition to your menu, perfect for those vegans with a sweet tooth—That’s why it’s one of my favorite coffee drinks! Coconut milk is made by mixing coconut flesh with water, and unlike coconut water, coconut milk has many health benefits on top of its intensely sweet taste. Some studies say that coconut milk can reduce inflammation, and fight viruses and bacteria.
To make this latte, you can either use hazelnut-flavored coconut milk, or purchase hazelnut-flavored syrup (my favorite is the Routin 1883 Hazelnut Syrup) to add to a typical latte. For extra coconut flavor, you can also sprinkle some coconut shavings onto the top of your latte!
4. Iced Vanilla Soy Latte
For another simple recipe, you can add a few pumps of vanilla syrup to a typical iced soy latte. Soy milk is one of the original plant-based milks, and it’s one of the most popular. Some people—even non-vegans—prefer the taste of soy milk over dairy milk, as it has a more robust taste than skim milk. Soy milk is usually fortified with vitamins and nutrients, like vitamin D and calcium, and it even provides omega 3 fatty acids, and flavonoids. These benefits make it a staple in many diets, and it’s one of the top plant-based milks to keep on hand.
5. Thai Iced Coffee
Thai iced coffee is another great option for your menu. This drink uses cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, and coconut cream, along with your usual plant-based milk, and a shot of espresso. What comes together is a sweet and creamy drink, with a kick. You could even make this recipe overnight, by assembling all the ingredients and leaving them in the refrigerator. When you wake up, you’ve basically got instant coffee—but this coffee tastes much better! The ease and deliciousness of this recipe makes thai iced coffee another one of my favorite coffee drinks.
6. Vegan Iced Coffee
While this may seem to be your basic iced coffee, you can take this recipe up a notch by blending your iced coffee with some almonds, salt, and dates. This combination will be both sweet and salty, and will be a bit thicker than your average iced coffee. You can also offer to throw in a pump of flavored syrup, depending on what the customer likes (my favorite addition is almond syrup and a splash of oat milk).
While your customers can just get iced coffee and substitute cream with their plant-based milk of choice, adding these extra ingredients to the iced coffee offered at your vegan coffee shop is a small step you can take, to ensure that your iced coffee is as memorable as it is delicious.
7. Paleo Mocha Frappe
A paleo mocha frappe will be a delight to your vegan customers, as non-dairy versions of frappes are rarely offered on regular menus—and if they are, they’re often underwhelming. However, there are ways to make these drinks as delicious as their dairy-based counterpart.
One of my favorite paleo mocha frappe recipes involves mixing together bananas, almond milk (or any other plant-based milk), cocoa powder, and brewed coffee. The result will be thick and sweet, and should satisfy any frappe-cravings that you or your customers might have. You can also look for vegan caramel macchiato and hot chocolate recipes (check out our Turmeric White Hot Chocolate for something extra unique!), if you’re looking to find substitutes for popular coffee drinks to offer in your coffee shop.
8. Horchata Iced Coffee
For an uber-creamy coffee recipe, you can make horchata iced coffee! By blending together three parts almond milk with one part rice milk, you can achieve the texture of horchata. And from there, all you need to do is add some cold brew or iced coffee, some simple syrup, and dust some cinnamon on top—and your drink is complete!
9. Lavender Iced Coffee
For a fun drink to add to your menu, you can stock up on the Monin Lavender syrup, or you can make your own, and add it to your plain iced coffee for a surprising floral flavor option for your customers. You can also steam milk with the lavender syrup, and add that to a shot of espresso to make a lavender latte. You could even draw a little lavender branch in the milk foam, if you’ve got a steady hand!
Making your own lavender syrup is also very easy. All you need is culinary lavender, water, and coconut sugar. To make it, you can add a cup of water and a cup of coconut sugar in a pan, and bring it to a boil. Then, throw in the culinary lavender, and let it steep for 5-8 minutes. After that, strain out the lavender, and you’ve got syrup that can last in the fridge for over a week!
10. Cold Brew with Plant-Based Milk
You can also offer the tried-and-true classic cold brew, and make sure you have plant-based milk options for your customers to choose from. If you’re like me, you always have Oatly’s Oatmilk stocked in your cupboards. I’ve found that oatmilk is the best plant-based milk to put in cold brew. For beginner coffee connoisseurs, and those who are hesitant to make the switch to plant-based milks, offer them oat milk because it has all the creaminess of half-and-half, with a sweetness to counteract any bitterness of the coffee.
When you’re looking to incorporate new options into your vegan coffee shop’s menu,
always be on the lookout for more original coffee and tea recipes
that will surprise and delight your customers.
The more that you experiment, and find exciting and interesting coffee and tea recipes, the more likely your customers are to share the new tastes and spots that they’ve found with others—and maybe some of these recipes will become your favorite coffee drinks, as well.