The Definitive Guide to Coffee CreamerSubscribe to our FREE weekly emails on finding and brewing amazing coffee!
While coffee purists out there will probably faint at the thought of adding anything to that perfectly roasted and brewed black cup of coffee, there are many people out there that just need a little something added to their cup in order to truly make it an enjoyable experience. On top of sweeteners, you could always try adding cream to your cup for a truly rich and thick taste and texture.
There is a seemingly endless supply of dairy, and non-dairy based coffee creamer options that can really boost the flavor of any cup of coffee. With so many options, you may have trouble deciding which one is best for you. Let’s examine all the different creamer options available for coffee so you can choose the best creamer for your next cup of coffee.
A Word on Nutrition
Whenever you decide to add cream or even milk to your coffee, you need to keep in mind that this will drastically alter the nutritional value of your cup of coffee. Even adding just a little cream or milk to your coffee will increase the calorie count of that cup of joe. So if you’re trying to watch what you eat, nothing will undo your diet faster than dumping a lot of cream into your coffee before you drink it.
In the world of calories, cream will be the worst offender. Cream has the most milk fat in it, which gives it that thick consistency and makes your coffee taste so rich. Milk follows up and, depending on what type of milk you choose, your calorie content will vary. For instance, if you ask for skim or even 1 percent or 2 percent milk, your calorie content will be lower compared to whole milk that contains a higher milk fat content that usually ranges in the 3 – 4 percent range.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee with cream or even milk, just remember that when you add it your usual cup of coffee that it will be more calories so you must alter your diet accordingly, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Milk and coffee go together, as Forrest Gump would say, like peas and carrots, and there is nothing better than adding just a little milk to thicken that cup of coffee to start your morning off right. However, there is more to milk than meets they eye.
Types of Milk
While much of the west automatically considers cow’s milk as the go-to coffee additive, you actually have many more options.
- Cow’s Milk – Cow’s milk is, by far, the most common milk used in coffee. It adds just the right thickness and sweetness to your morning cup so you can start your day right. How it affects the taste and thickness will depend largely on how the cows were raised, what percentage of fat is present and the freshness of the milk.
- Goat’s Milk – Goat’s milk has been steadily gaining popularity in recent years. This type of dairy is more easily digested compared to cow’s milk making it the perfect milk for coffee drinkers who may be a bit intolerant to lactose. Goat’s milk will add a bit of an earthy taste unlike the sweetness added by cow’s milk and is often best used with medium roasts.
- Buffalo Milk – A true alternative that is not widely used, buffalo milk can truly turn your cup of coffee into a real treat. Buffalo milk is the fattiest of all the milks, meaning it will truly add a creamy texture and taste to your cup of coffee. The flavor from buffalo milk is a mix of both sweet and tangy making it definitely worth a try for any milk or cream coffee lovers.
Just like the milk you buy to drink, the fat content of the milk can greatly impact the effects that it has on both the taste and the texture of your coffee.
- Whole Milk – This is the type of milk typically served by baristas unless you ask for a specific type of milk. It is heavier that most milk containing somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.25 to 4 percent in fat. This will make your coffee both creamier and sweeter than many of the other options.
- Reduced-Fat Milk – Reduced fat milk usually comes in a range of 1 to 2 percent, although you can find milk with as little as .5 percent fat. This milk will provide a balance between both sweetness and thickness in your coffee so you can beef up your coffee a little while not overloading it with fat and calories.
- Skim Milk – By far the healthiest option you can choose if you are counting calories, skim milk is fat free. This version of milk is much sweeter than other options but the texture is nowhere near as think. You won’t get a more creamy texture from your cup of coffee if you choose this option.
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If you aren’t concerned about counting calories, cream is one of the best additions you can add to a normal cup of coffee. Like milk, how many calories you add and how it alters both the taste and the consistency of your coffee largely depends on the amount of milk fat present in the cream.
- Half and Half – Half and half is half milk and half cream and is by far one of the common creams used by Americans when they add cream to their coffee. Half and half contains about 12 percent fat making it thicker and sweeter compared to whole milk, but it doesn’t have the thickness of pure whole cream or whipping cream. If you are looking for the perfect balance between sweetness and thickness, half and half is one of the best options you can choose.
- Light Cream – If whole milk or even half and half isn’t thick enough for you, you could try upping the fat content just a little bit light cream. Light cream contains about 20 percent fat meaning it will add more calories, but nowhere near as much as some of the other, heavier options.
- Light Whipping Cream – Beginning with this option, you now move into cream options that are much thicker and richer compared to our previous examples. Light Whipping Cream contains around 30 percent fat making it heavier that light cream but still not as thick as our next too examples.
- Whipping Cream – Whipping Cream is much thicker compared to half and half and usually contains about 35 percent milk fat depending on the product that you buy. This makes the cream very thick giving your coffee a much thicker and creamier consistency.
- Heavy Cream – Heavy cream is, as you have probably guessed, the thickest and heaviest option you can choose. Typically, heavy cream is approximately 38 percent (and sometimes more) fat making it the thickest option available to you. It is very rich and can really enhance your daily cup of coffee. However, a little goes a long way. If you use too much, you could find your cup of coffee quickly becomes too thick for you to enjoy.
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How to Make Homemade Coffee Creamer
Making your own coffee creamer is surprisingly simple to do. It’s so simple, in fact, it makes me wonder why more people don’t make it themselves.
First, gather up all the ingredients you will need. These ingredients will determine the final flavoring of your creamer, so make sure you choose high-quality ingredients every time.
All creamers begin with a milk base of some type. A few of your options are:
- Half and Half – Used for a thicker and richer coffee creamer
- Milk – A much healthier option if you choose whole or 2 percent milk, but won’t be as rich as the first choice.
- Soy or Almond Milk – The perfect choice for our lactose intolerant friends out there or anyone wanting to go healthier with their creamer.
The type of milk is really up to you, as from here on out the steps are the same regardless of the milk you choose for your homemade coffee creamer.
1. Grab A Sweetener
If you are making flavored creamers, you may want to add a little sweetener to the mix to really make your taste buds jump. For this you can use regular white sugar, brown sugar or even honey if you are looking for a more natural sweetener option. You can even choose to use one of the many artificial sweeteners available if you need to avoid that extra sugar content.
2. Add Your Flavor of Choice
Once you have your base and sweetener of choice picked out, it is time to grab a flavor to make a custom creamer that you and your guests will delight over with each cup of coffee poured. Almost any flavor will work, so feel free to experiment. Some of the most popular choices are vanilla, hazelnut, mocha and cinnamon just to name a few.
When choosing flavors, always try and get high quality extracts whenever possible for the best results and make sure all your ingredients are the very best quality.
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3. Prepare Your Creamer
I recommend preparing creamer the night before you first want to use it so it will be chilled, fresh, and ready to serve the next morning.
- In a small pot on your stove, add 2 cups of your milk of choice.
- Add your sweetener of choice. Experiment with the amounts but somewhere between one and two tablespoons should do the trick.
- Add your flavor. Again, this is usually done to taste so feel free to experiment. The amount you need will vary based on your flavoring as well. Usually somewhere in the neighborhood of two tablespoons will usually satisfy your taste buds.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer on the stove, whisking it constantly to ensure the ingredients mix together completely.
- When your creamer begins to steam slightly, remove it from the heat.
- All your homemade coffee creamer to cool, then place it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Serve your coffee creamer with your favorite cup of coffee the next morning.
It’s just that easy. With just a few easy-to-follow steps and some high-quality ingredients, you can create your own coffee creamer right in the comfort of your own home.
The possibilities for homemade coffee creamer is limited only by your imagination, meaning it would be impossible to condense into one single article. But here are a few of the most popular options out there and what you will need for each of them.
- Hazelnut – Add one teaspoon of hazelnut extract and vanilla extract along with four tablespoons of sugar.
- Mocha – Place two tablespoons of cocoa powder into the mixture with four tablespoons of brown sugar. For added effect, add a dash of syrup on top of the coffee.
- Chocolate Hazelnut – Add four tablespoons of Nutella or other type of chocolate hazelnut spread.
- Vanilla – Include two teaspoons of vanilla extract and four tablespoons of sugar.
- Caramel Macchiato – Add one tablespoon of cocoa, six tablespoons of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract and a dash of salt.
- Chocolate Mint – Mix in two tablespoons of cocoa powder with ½ teaspoon of peppermint extract and four tablespoons of sugar.
- Pumpkin Spice – Mix two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, one tablespoon of vanilla extract, four tablespoons of maple syrup to your base.
- Almond Toffee – Add one teaspoon of almond extract and 4 tablespoons of sugar.
- Salted Caramel – Add a dash of salt along with six tablespoons of brown sugar.
- Chai Latte – Include three chai tea bags during the simmer process along with four tablespoons of brown sugar.
We have spent a lot of time focusing on the more natural products that you can use in your coffee. However, there are other options available to you that don’t involve dairy.
Some coffee creamers come premixed and can bought at any grocery store. These often include popular brands such as:
- International Delight
These non-dairy creamers come in a wide variety of flavors such as french vanilla, hazelnut, Irish cream, and many more. If you want to try and add a little variety to your taste buds, but don’t want to spend a lot of time whipping up your own recipes using cream, these store-bought versions make a great substitute, although nothing will replace the fine taste of a homemade creamer.
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Other Non-Dairy Options
There are other options available to you if you want to cut calories but still add a creamier and richer taste to that cup of java sitting on your desk. Some of these options also come in a variety of flavors and even in a heavier, creamier form that you could equate to half and half in thickness. Some of the most common milks used are:
- Almond Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Cashew Milk
- Soy Milk
These types of milk are made from almonds or coconuts and are much healthier than the dairy-based alternatives while also being the perfect creamer option for anyone who is lactose intolerant. Like other non-dairy creamers, you can often find these in a variety of flavors including french vanilla, hazelnut, and even the natural almond and coconut milk flavors. These creamers won’t taste just like the dairy varieties, but they do bring their own unique spin to a cup of joe making them worth a try to anyone who loves adding a little something extra to their coffee but can’t handle dairy.
Bailey’s Irish Cream
If you want to really ramp up the taste of your coffee and give it a little “adult spin,” you could try adding Bailey’s Irish Cream to your next cup of coffee. Bailey’s is an Irish whiskey and cream-based liqueur, meaning there is alcohol present in the drink. It mixes very well with coffee giving it a truly unique taste combined with the effects of the alcohol to create a more grownup coffee experience. Careful how much you drink, though, especially if you have to drive.
As you can see, there is a pretty big list of cream options for your coffee. Remember, always consider your calorie and fat content when you are using creamer so you don’t go overboard. You don’t want your coffee to make you go up a pants size, after all. That being said, experiment with all of these different options to find the perfect creamer for you.
Not all types of cream will go with every type of coffee roast. So continue to experiment and keep a few options on hand so you always have a type of milk or cream to add to your next cup of coffee.
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