I have been considering opening a coffee shop, but now, as a new vegan, I know I would not be okay with serving drinks with cow milk.  So I have been trying every other kind of "milk," not actually steaming them but drinking them straight, and I can barely stand most of them.  It is seriously discouraging. 


Is anyone out there having success with their vegan offerings?  Not just, eh, it's okay, but wow, that's so good I don't even miss the milk!  Or if you know any place that does vegan really well, I would love to hear about it.  I had a soy mocha at Starbucks and I was so disgusted I wanted to cry. 

If there's anyone out there..barista, shop owner, coffee drinker...who can tell me about successful drinks or successful shops, I would appreciate it.  Ideally I'd like to find a shop or a barista to learn from.


Thanks so much!

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Katie Jo-Yes, unrelated but awesome. I will have to try! I just made these vegan cookies and cream cupcakes and everyone's going gaga for them.   Vegan baking rocks!


And yeah, I drink my coffee black but realistically I don't think I'd be able to get enough customers without some fancier drinks.  I hardly know anyone who drinks their coffee black, even after they try it black and agree it's delicious!

At home, I'm a raw food vegan.  Professionally, I'm just a lacto-vegetarian.  


Part of serving espresso is recognizing the culture that it came from and having a respect for the drinks that we are reproducing.  Does a macchiato have the bodily lactation fluid from creature of a different species in it?  Yes.  Does it make sense to drink the milk of an animal while thinking that drinking human milk as an adult is strange?  Not at all. 


The question is also motives behind being vegan.  Why are you vegan?  Is it for health?  Is it for social or political reasons?  It makes a big difference.  So does the source of the milk.  Was the cow grass-fed or grain fed? (which basically puts the entire creature on life-support until the slaughter)  


Even if you disagree with the consumption of moo juice (which is something that I can readily understand), it is not inherently bad, necessarily, even if it is strange and unnatural. 

Animal welfare is my sole reason for going vegan.  I can't support the dairy industry, and doing it "professionally" unfortunately won't make my conscience any clearer.

In the soy world, try the Barista Series Pacific Soy and Vanilla Soy. Those have gotten the best steaming & texture results for me. They also have a chai coming out in the next couple of months that I tried this weekend and enjoyed. 


As a vegan, I decided early on to let customers decide for themselves. We offer soy and rice alternatives for everything and offer vegan chocolate & syrups. Because we have a lot of vegan customers, vegetarians, gluten-free folks, other folks with allergens, and just normal people, we try to label things appropriately and educate ourselves on what's what so we can guide folks. The foodservice world is hard to navigate from a vegan standpoint, but it can be done if you spend a little more time researching and a little more money on some products.


I don't use them because of availability here, but the Sweetbird line of syrups are all certified Vegan.

Their chocolate does use high fructose corn syrup like most chocolates, though. If you're against that, the only thing available in the market right now is Holy Kakow out of the Portland area. They have 2 Vegan chocolate sauces that are pretty good.


I also want to echo folks on local farms. If you can find a local organic dairy farm and you can see for yourselves how the cows are treated, it might make a difference for you. 


The fun part about my store not being entirely vegan is the chance to get non-vegan folks to try vegan things and realize they can be made well and can taste just as good. You loose that chance if you isolate folks from the beginning. It's a tough call to decide whether or not you're being vegan by serving other people non-vegan things, but that's something everyone has to answer for themselves.


If you have any questions along the way on how someone else has dealt with certain products, types of customers, recipes, etc., I'd love to help. I've spent 8 years not dealing with this issue and I'm sure the journey is far from over.




you know, a lot of people seem to automatically think faux-milk has to bad. I  actually prefer a "mylk" over cream of cow milk- i think the super high fat content just coats the mouth and prevents people from actually tasting the coffee itself. Soy is delicious- maybe your starbucks drink was so awful because it was a starbucks drink. Almond milk works great- it steams up well & is super easy & cheap to produce in gallons on your own, most any nut will make a good milk- the high fat content the better, a certain amount of people enjoy rice milk - i personally dont trust anything that seperates into 3 distinct layers after sitting out for 3 minutes. one of the issues ive run into that you might too , no matter which mylk you choose is that certain syrups & even certain very acidic beans cause a "tofu" kinda thing to occur. just my thought- but it seems entirely do-able to run a vegan coffee shop as long as you dont attempt to be a Faux-anything vegan- stick to natural things and natural things will occur

Okay, I'm curious. 


What's the trick to getting raw home-made almond mylk to actually taste good when steamed?  


I love it raw.  Steamed, it looks wonderful.  I can pour art with it.  But it never tastes good. (in other words, it's pointless)  


I'm under the impression that most people saying almond mylk works well are buying pre-manufactured (read: probably roasted and/or pasteurized) almond mylks.  What's the trick?

roasting. i love it raw too ive been known to drinkit straight from jar standing in front of the open fridge. roasting it makes a really nice flavor but 1 second too long and the oils turn rancid-read- when you steam it to too high of a temp it pretty much skanks it and it goes real sour/burn. has anybody tried making milk with a really oily nut? like hazlenuts?! that would be out of this world delish. or for that matter maybe honey roasting(or roasting the nuts with cane or agave syrup to keep it vegan)?

I don't do cooked at home.  So the trick is that it's just not doable.  Cool.


The oiliest nut I've come across has been Brazil nuts.  Making raw brazil nut butter results in an oily mess.  

We just opened our shop a few months ago, and wanted to offer a milk alternative in addition to soy. For soy we use the Pacific Barista Series.


We went to all of the Co-ops in our area and bought every kind of milk alternative we could find. We tasted them cold, steamed, and steamed with espresso. Here is what we tried that day:

Good Karma Rice Milk

Pacific Almond

Tempt Hemp unsweetened

Tempt Hemp sweetened

Wildwood Soy Original

Wildwood Soy Unsweetened

Organic Valley Soy Original

Organic Valley Soy Unsweetened

Pacific Foods Hazelnut

Pacific Foods Oat

Hemp Dream Hemp

Blue Diamonds Almond Breeze Original

So Delicious Coconut Unsweetened


Whatever we could find, we tried. My favorite was the Hazelnut milk from Pacific Foods. It tastes amazing with our espresso. The flavor and texture of the hazelnut milk bring out beautiful roasty nuances of the espresso and actually complement it very well. I would recommend this drink--not just as a milk alternative. It's good.


I have more tasting notes if you are interested. Just let me know. I didn't want to bore everyone! But go to the store, grab a few, and see how they taste with your espresso. Every brand tastes a little different too, so taste as much as you can. And something else might work better with whatever espresso you are using. You never know how the flavors will react.


Thank you for sharing that! I would love to read more of your tasting notes! Feel free to post them here or send me a message with them. I'd greatly appreciate it! 



You have tons of vegan options! At our coffee shop in Portland we serve a large vegan client base. I personally have found that Pacific Soy Blenders tastes the absolute best steamed. We also use the Living Harvest Hemp and people drink that everyday. They recently reformulated it to not separate. I think that it tastes better with certain flavors like hazelnut or chocolate. It's makes a pretty good hemp-a-ccino tho too. Holy Kakow is a local vegan chocolate company that we use also. Check them out. 




Holy Kakow is pretty good? It's the best chocolate sauce available : ). Check out their organic flavored syrups as well. One stop for 100% fairly traded, organic sauces/syrups - the taste and

quality are exceptional.

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