How to enjoy coffee without the cow

Coffee trends are constantly changing. The challenge, as a supplier and high street presence is to keep your ear to the ground and identify the way the market is shifting. An even greater challenge is to see through all the glitter infused, mushroom-tasting Instagram dead-ends and identify the true consumer-driven 24 carat ideas that are here to stay.

One such trend which has been gaining traction over recent years is the demand for dairy-free ways for people to enjoy their coffee. A recent poll indicated a significant rise in the number of people choosing a vegan lifestyle – now 7% of the UK population with 19% also reducing the amount of dairy in their diet. Vegan or not the rise in demand for dairy-free coffee is a trend to take seriously.

Along with this comes a raft of alternative ‘milk’ being introduced to the UK market. Where once you would have struggled to find a café offering a single alternative to regular cow’s milk; now most coffee drinkers are presented with choices ranging from coconut to soya to tiger-nut.

Here at Paddy and Scott’s HQ we’ve put these diary-free milks through their paces to identify which ones make the best flat white and now offer a couple of choices in our own cafés as well as advising our many concessions on the best way to cater for their dairy-shy customers. We’ve ensured our own hot chocolate powder is vegan friendly and have even produced a youtube tutorial on how to make it.

The challenge comes for the barista to texture these milks to get the same micro-foam and deliver a silky cup of coffee. This is not always easy. To be briefly scientific; cow’s milk (preferably full fat) textures so well due to the balance of proteins and fats present within it. Since the balance of these is different in non-dairy milks, some will produce a better cup of coffee than others. The best result come with milks which have high protein and fat content – good for creating and holding those little air bubbles, something like cashew or soya produce good results here. In our barista academy more and more, we are introducing baristas to these options and experimenting with ways to deliver a great cup of coffee without the cow.

Gone are the days of non-dairy drinkers being limited to a black americano. Now other brewing methods are available as well as the full coffee menu being offered with dairy free milks. This trend is not only here to stay; it’s on the rise, we say!
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