If you are one of the many coffee drinkers who live by the Beastie Boys mantra, “I like my sugar with coffee and cream,” it can be hard to move towards drinking your coffee black, which is the healthier option (but not nearly as tasty).

Personally, after forming the habit of several cups of coffee a day, I realized I needed to find a way to prevent these cups o’ joe from becoming giant mugs of what could basically be considered a coffee-flavored dessert.

One of the best ways to improve your habitual caffeine fix is to put down the half-and-half. Besides packing calories into your drink, heavy creams can leave your stomach feeling iffy if you’re the type to put more than a teaspoon or two in each cup.

Below is a ranking from worst to best of different types of nondairy coffee creamers that you can use instead of cow’s milk.

5. Rice Milk


Photo by Annie Madole

Rice milk tends to be on the watery side of non-dairy milks, so in general it’s not a preferred option for coffee. However, many people like the very neutral taste it gives, so if you want lightly creamy java that tastes purely of your choice of coffee ground, it might be worth a try. For a further breakdown on nondairy milks, click here.

4. Coconut Milk


Photo by Nikki Katz

One of the newer fads for lactose-free creaminess is full of healthy fats (such as medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily burned for energy and aid in weight loss as well as other benefits). While the overall flavor and creaminess is pretty good, I’ve found that I need to add quite a bit before I get my coffee to the perfect hue of golden brown.

3. Hemp Milk


Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Ok, this may sound like the option for the hippies, but hemp milk is deliciously thick and has a nice malty flavor that tastes great with darker roasts. Two downfalls: it really is better to use a sweetened version (taking away some of the health factor), and it can be a bit expensive.

If you’re lucky enough to find a café that will make you a latte with hemp milk, however, give it a try for a seriously decadent, nutty-tasting drink that actually has a ton of nutrients.

2. Almond Milk


Photo by Angelina Marioni

Surprise, surprise, almond milk tastes quite a bit like almonds, and wouldn’t be recommended if you don’t like toasty, organic flavors in your coffee. But, it makes a great creamer because it is so rich and can turn a coffee from harsh-tasting to light and pleasant with just a small splash. To really amp up the goodness, try making your own almond milk.

1. Soy Milk


Photo by Angelina Marioni

Soy milk reigns supreme in the non-dairy creamer world. In my opinion, it has the best payoff for creaminess without contributing any of its own particular flavors to the mix. Buy a soy milk creamer (Trader Joe’s has several) instead of a general carton of the milk to avoid any possible curdling in a hot drink.

While soy may be one of the most versatile choices, any of the above milks are great options in moving away from heavy cream and half-and-half in your coffee and enjoying your treat guilt-free.

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