As a vegan, nothing prevents you from enjoying a cup of strong coffee any time you want. However, it’s paramount that you discern first that your coffee is vegan in content and ethics. How, then, can you identify coffee that meets your dietary requirements and doesn’t harm the environment?
With so many coffee brands out there and a general assumption that all coffee is vegan, it can be difficult to discern which coffee is truly vegan. Here, we’ll discuss what makes coffee eco and vegan-friendly and how to spot products that fit those criteria.
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Are All Coffee Vegan?
A straight answer would be no; not all coffee is vegan. You can easily classify pure black coffee as vegan. However, with the introduction of dairy products like milk, whipped cream, syrups, or even honey, it becomes non-vegan.
Coffee, though, remains vegan (in content) when these added ingredients are plant-based. Therefore, non-dairy milk like coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk and rice milk, and cane sugar preserve its vegan nature. You can even find a vegan latte in some cafes.
Interestingly, having all vegan ingredients in coffee isn’t enough to classify it as vegan. You’ll also have to consider if the individual ingredients respected vegan ethical principles.
For example, refined sugar makes coffee non-vegan because it contains bone char. Similarly, even cocoa beans, though plant-based, can make coffee non-vegan when grown and processed, infringing vegan ethics.
Here are two ethical factors that make coffee vegan:
Organic Coffee Beans
The widespread use of chemical herbicides and fertilizers to grow coffee beans harms wildlife and the environment. Since this violates vegan ethics, it makes the coffee beans non-vegan.
Therefore, it’s best to insist on USDA-certified organic coffee to ensure you purchase truly vegan coffee. This certification shows that from planting to harvesting, the growers haven’t used any artificial chemicals on the coffee beans, making them truly organic.
Naturally, coffee thrives under a shade where it grows steadily, accumulating several nutrients. However, many coffee farmers now establish coffee bean plantations under full sunlight because it speeds up their growth. The issue is that such astronomic growth now requires supplementary nutrients from chemical fertilizers.
In the long run, these fertilizers harm wildlife, destroy the soil structure and result in deforestation to clear up spaces for new plantations. Thus, coffee grown under such conditions can never make truly vegan coffee.
How to Identify Vegan and Eco-Friendly Coffee
As a vegan or someone simply interested in sustainable, eco-friendly practices, you may have wondered whether your favorite coffee is vegan or eco-friendly.
When confirming the vegan and eco-friendliness of coffee, there are a few things to check. First, check the packaging to confirm no milk-based products or honey. Next, consider the processing and ensure that no animal-based products constitute the recipe. You can also check the brand website to confirm this.
In a nutshell, here are three important things to look out for:
Let’s take a closer look at these criteria and see what they involve.
Thoroughly checking a coffee package is the easiest way to confirm if your coffee is vegan and eco-friendly. Manufacturers compromise the vegan nature of coffee by adding milk products and honey to their blend.
Fortunately, you can find these additions in the ingredients list on the coffee package. Thus, if your coffee contains any of these as one of its ingredients, your coffee isn’t vegan-friendly.
Additionally, you can also look out for the rainforest alliance, organic, and fair trade logos on your coffee packet. If your coffee has any of these logos, you can rest assured that your coffee is vegan and eco-friendly.
Here, you’ll need to research the manufacturer’s production processes. Some manufacturers use animal-based products during production. Besides that, some companies also employ cruelly treated animals to process coffee, compromising the coffee and making it non-vegan.
Sustainability is another stress-free method to check if your coffee is eco and vegan-friendly. Simply check the company’s website and look for information about their sustainable practices. Where such exists, it’s an indication of their commitment to producing eco-friendly coffee. A quick google search can reveal a lot about a company and its values.
As established above, veganism isn’t just a strict avoidance of consuming animal products. It’s an ethical way of life that shows care for the planet, including the humans and animals therein. So if any product compromises this ethic at any stage of its production, it becomes non-vegan. Therefore, coffee can become non-vegan even though all its ingredients are plant-based.
You can also enjoy delicious vegan coffee at commercial cafes, serving instant coffee; you only need to identify vegan-friendly ones. While many cafes publicly advertise veganism and eco-friendliness online and on signposts, you can confirm this from their practices.
Here are a few tips for identifying vegan-friendly cafes:
- Ask the baristas how they source their coffee beans to ensure they aren’t animal produced
- Check the menu to confirm that the milk, sugar, cream, and syrups are plant-derived alternatives like vegan syrup and creamer, and coconut milk, oat milk or almond milk.
- Using reusable cups
- Using reusable filters
With this guide and diligent research, you can find vegan coffee or cafes that meet your needs and truly satisfy you.
Health Benefits of Vegan Coffee
The United States National Coffee Association (NCA) reveals that 63% of adults take coffee daily. This widespread ritual is largely due to the health benefits of coffee. However, vegan coffee has proven more nutritious and provides many health benefits.
To produce non-vegan coffee, you’ll need to roast the cocoa beans for much longer to make the taste lighter. You’ll also need to add milk-based ingredients to improve the taste.
Here’s a list of benefits you can derive from drinking vegan coffee:
- It has lower acidity since the light roasting maintains the natural acid balance
- Vegan coffee provides more antioxidants to combat free radicals in your body
- Black vegan coffee provides zero fats, carbohydrates, and calories, making it ideal to complement any diet
- Vegan coffee helps fight diabetes. Not only is eco-friendly coffee void of refined sugar, but it also helps to slow down carbohydrate absorption
- Vegan coffee also contains several vitamins (especially the B complexes)
- Caffeine contents in vegan coffee also help improve alertness and focus, especially cold brew coffee
- It also helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer
10 Vegan Coffee Recipes to Try
If you love coffee and would want to try various recipes, we have created this list of the ten best vegan coffee recipes for you, including:
Cinnamon Roll Latte
The cinnamon roll lattes serve a dual function: beverages and foods. This decadent, warming, sweet, and creamy coffee drink with homemade vegan cinnamon rolls glazed with coffee as toppings.
You’ll need a strong brewed coffee or double shot espresso, cinnamon vanilla syrup, non-dairy milk like unsweetened oat milk, and coconut whipped cream (optional) to make this treat.
Vegan Coffee Liqueur
This easy-to-make coffee liqueur recipe doesn’t require non-vegan ingredients. While the preparation might take a while, you’ll need white and brown sugar, vodka, vanilla bean, and instant coffee to make this rich coffee liqueur.
It’ll be worth the effort when you take the first sip.
While lattes are milky drinks, making a vegan latte isn’t as simple as substituting non-dairy milk like almond milk for dairy milk, and you’re all done. It isn’t that easy!
The frothing milk is vital to making a delicious, creamy latte. Unfortunately, some non-dairy milk doesn’t froth easily. It’d be best to use oat milk, the best non-dairy milk for frothing.
Vegan Thai Iced Coffee
Popularly called liquid coffee ice cream, you’ll enjoy this recipe if you love the coconut milk taste. This easy-to-make, vegan recipe requires coconut-based condensed milk to create the perfect consistency. Also, add cardamom, almond extract, and sweetener to make an authentic vegan Thai iced coffee.
Iced Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso
If you’re craving something extra and have the time, consider trying this iced brown sugar shaken espresso. This recipe combines espresso, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, and homemade simple syrup. Learning to make this recipe means you don’t have to continue paying a steep price for this specialty at coffee shops.
It’s also easy to make once your homemade syrup is ready. Start by boiling water, then add a pinch of vanilla and brown sugar to the hot water over medium heat and stir to make your syrup. Allow it to simmer for just two to three minutes, bring it down, and keep it aside.
Creamy Coffee and Banana Smoothie
If you love coffee and smoothie and want to see what the combination will be like, consider trying this creamy coffee and banana smoothie combo.
This smooth, caffeine-free combo requires only a five minutes prep time or less, and you’ll need plant-derived milk, dates, almond butter, and cauliflower for the smoothie.
Cold Brew Caramel Frappuccino
Some people prefer iced coffee regardless of the weather, and this Cold brew caramel frappuccino is the best you’ll ever try. You only need three ingredients to make this frappuccino in under five minutes.
Create the creamy base with almond milk ice cubes, add the date puréed caramel for a sweet caramel finish, and pour in the cold brew coffee.
Your cold brew caramel frappuccino is ready!
Vegan Coffee Cake
If you enjoy eating cake, this vegan coffee cake is one you ought to try. This recipe is extremely easy to prepare for lactose intolerant people and can serve as a great dessert or snack option.
You’ll need three small Americanos or five espresso shots, one cup of sugar, icing sugar, baking powder, sunflower oil, and all-purpose flour. Allow to cool for a few minutes after baking, and sprinkle any fruit of your choice, like strawberries, on top.
Vegan Hazelnut Cupcakes
If you don’t have the time to bake a coffee cake, consider going for the vegan hazelnut cupcake recipe. Who doesn’t love devouring delicious cupcakes?
Create a decadent, moist chocolate base and mix with a bit of hazelnut and coconut slithers. Ensure the frosting on top has a delicious, deep coffee flavor.
Vegan Peppermint Mocha
This healthy vegan peppermint mocha is sweetened with date and contains blended cashews to create a frothy, milk-free finish. The cashews serve as a healthy fats source, add a peppermint drop and unsweetened cocoa powder to the mix, and you have a healthy, delicious holiday drink.
Is Coffee Eco-Friendly?
Coffee is eco-friendly when grown traditionally under shaded trees and organically without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, it loses its eco-friendliness with the introduction of toxins and when grown under sunlight.
Can Vegans Drink Coffee?
Vegans can enjoy hot or iced coffee drinks especially black coffee since all its ingredients are plant-based. They can also drink coffee with plant-derived ingredients instead of dairy ingredients, for example, replacing dairy milk with oat milk. Still, strict vegans usually confirm whether the coffee is ethical before drinking.
You can identify vegan coffee content by checking the ingredient list on the packet to confirm the absence of non-vegan ingredients. However, truly vegan and eco-friendly coffee, otherwise known as organic coffee is void of dairy products and all its ingredients are processed while adhering to vegan ethics.
Simple research on your coffee manufacturers’ sustainable practices would confirm if your coffee is vegan and eco-friendly.
The vegan lifestyle isn’t always easy. You have to be mindful of what you eat or drink. Thankfully, The Vegan Justice League is available to offer you all the support you need. Ranging from food recipes to beauty brands, everything you need to enjoy a vegan lifestyle is here.