How to Make Coffee With Soya Milk Without It Curdling

Updated on September 20, 2018
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I love coffee, but I'm vegan so I don't drink cow's milk. I wanted to find a way to make coffee with soya milk without the milk curdling.

Soya Milk Curdling in a Mug of Coffee

The soya milk is starting to curdle yet again! Argh!
The soya milk is starting to curdle yet again! Argh!

How to Make Coffee with Soya Milk Without it Curdling

If you’re anything like me (and I hope for your sake you’re not), you love coffee but don't want to use cow’s milk—perhaps for health, taste, or ethical reasons.

If that’s the case, then you have undoubtedly come up against the big curdling conundrum: just how do you make coffee with non-dairy milk, like soya milk, without it curdling? In this article, I will attempt to help you in your quest to make a perfectly smooth, non-dairy milky coffee. For those of you looking for a quick fix, I’ll even show you which product has been designed to solve this problem once and for all.

For many years, unable to solve this issue, I drank my coffee black with a spoonful of honey. I loved it, and it meant I no longer had to worry about curdling milk. But then my dentist persuaded me it was time to ditch the honey. I protested vehemently but it was no use: I knew the time had come. So I set about trying to make coffee with soya milk once again, just as I had tried to do many years ago.

Operation Non-Curdle

Over a period of several weeks I researched this issue and tried a number of experiments. Here are the various attempts I made at making the perfect coffee - these were all tried with instant coffee:

  • Add water to coffee and then add soya milk

  • Add the soya milk first, then water, then coffee

  • Mix the coffee with the soya milk first and then add water

  • Warm the soya milk first, add water, then coffee

  • Warm the soya milk first, add coffee, then water

  • Allow the boiled water to cool before adding it to the cup

  • Leave the spoon in the mug after mixing soya milk, water and coffee

  • Shake the carton of soya milk first or whisk the milk in the cup before adding water and coffee

  • Pray to the Goddess of Lattes

  • Try different brands of soya milk

  • Try a different type of non-dairy milk

The Results: Did I Achieve a Non-Curdled Non-Dairy Milky Coffee?

Several of the experiments seemed to work initially, only to stop working as soon as I began to think I may have cracked it. With my initial attempts allowing the boiled water to cool quite a lot before making the coffee seemed to work best. This was fine but resulted in several cups of lukewarm coffee, which was not ideal.

Whisking the milk was interesting and made the coffee taste nicer but all that did was make it harder to tell if the milk had curdled, because it took several slurps to get through the froth. Unfortunately, below the froth there was the usual curdle.

Allowing the boiled water to cool before making the coffee certainly makes sense from a taste perspective ("coffee boiled is coffee spoiled", after all) but it was interesting to note that adding boiling water to soya milk alone doesn’t make it curdle. It only curdles once the coffee has been added.

I tried two brands of oat milk: one made from only organic oats and water; and another which had added ingredients like sunflower oil. The one containing the oil worked better but personally speaking I don’t really want to be adding oil to my coffee.

Eventually, after praying to the Goddess of Lattes and looking online for a magical spell I could use, I tried using a different brand of soya milk. I live in the UK and up until that time I had been using a supermarket own brand organic soya milk. It was unsweetened and had no added ingredients - it was just organic soya beans and water. But it wasn’t working. So then I tried Alpro organic unsweetened soya milk, which seems to have identical ingredients. The result? Bingo! I made a milky coffee that didn’t curdle - and it was hot! So I tried again. And again. And again. Each time it worked. Curdling was a thing of the past. So what was the difference? Both the supermarket (Tesco) own brand and the Alpro soya milks were organic, unsweetened and had no added ingredients. So why does the Alpro milk work when the Tesco one doesn’t? Perhaps it has something to do with the beans, the water or the manufacturing process.

Why Does Soya Milk Curdle in Coffee, Anyway?

My experiments led me to believe quite firmly that the Goddess of Lattes is capricious and very difficult to placate. I suspect she has a particular liking for cow’s milk and doesn’t like this new-fangled soya nonsense. But the general consensus in the scientific community seems to be that soya milk curdles in coffee because the coffee is acidic.

With that in mind I did try making ground coffee in a cafetiere, in the hope that it might be less acidic, but that didn’t work when I was using the Tesco milk. So then I had a look online for some low-acid coffee but there doesn’t seem to be a great deal available over here. If you live in the US I believe low-acid coffee is easier to come by, so if you haven’t been able to solve the curdling problem any other way, that might be worth a try.

Still on the subject of acidity, some soya milks contain acidity regulators and some people believe these can prevent curdling. I tried the Alpro non-organic unsweetened soya milk, which contains acidity regulators, and that has worked for me every time, but so does the Alpro organic unsweetened version which doesn’t contain acidity regulators.

Conclusion

To sum up, I would say there are three options, depending on how much time you have and how fascinated or infuriated you are by this:

  1. If you are intrigued, have the time and feel like doing some experiments, I suggest you try as many variations as you can think of to see if you can come up with a magic formula.

  2. If you are mildly intrigued by this and have a bit of time to spare I suggest you try several different brands of soya milk and see which works best.

  3. If you are completely infuriated by the whole thing, then there is a product that has been specially formulated to solve this problem: it’s an Alpro product called Soya for Professionals. Suitable for both vegans and vegetarians, Alpro says it has been ‘specially blended for coffee.’ Apparently, it's the soya milk that baristas use and the one they use in Costa coffee shops.

As for my dentist, I suspect that next time I see her she’ll tell me that the coffee is just as bad for my teeth as the honey, in which case I’ll be researching my next article: How to make coffee without using coffee!

If you’ve been affected by the soya milk curdling curse please leave a comment below and if you do find a magic formula for smooth soya milk coffee please feel free to share it with us. Happy drinking.

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    © 2018 Rob Butler

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