I ordered and evaluated the drink options available in supermarkets and marketplaces.
Coconut milk is one of the most popular plant-based drinks. They drink it just like that, add it to coffee, and prepare porridges, soups and sauces for main courses with it. It’s a good substitute for cow’s milk – both for vegans and people with lactose intolerance or allergies, and for those who just like to try new things.
If a few years ago coconut milk was mainly found in trendy coffee shops, on the shelves of health food stores or Asian grocery stores, now it can also be found in regular chain supermarkets.
I tried 12 options for coconut milk from different brands – I’ll tell you about both successful and unsuccessful options.
Criteria for evaluation
The basis. Not all coconut milk consists solely of nut pulp and water. It can be divided into three types:
- Coconut based drinks. Usually the composition contains only coconut, sometimes water, emulsifiers or stabilizers.
- Coconut-based drinks with the addition of other raw materials. It could be rice, soy or oats. In this type of milk, coconut appears earlier, which means its concentration is higher.
- Drinks based on other raw materials with the addition of coconut. There is less of the latter in such milk – this can be seen in the composition: nut pulp is further on the list than other flour or cereals.
At the same time, the coconut in the composition is designated differently : “coconut pulp”, “coconut flakes”, “coconut cream”, “coconut milk” and so on. Manufacturers do not always indicate which ingredients are hidden under some names.
Compound. In addition to coconut pulp, other raw materials and water, the following are often found:
- Stabilizers: xanthan, guar, gellan gum, carrageenan.
- Salt – regular or sea.
- Vitamin complexes.
There is nothing wrong with stabilizers, flavors and emulsifiers: all these additives have been well studied, their concentration in the product is minimal and safe. There is also little salt in the composition, but with sugar the story is different: sometimes there is even more of it in the drink than rice or soy raw materials. If you control your sweet intake, it is better to give preference to sugar-free options.
Fat content. The standard rate is from 1 to 20%. The fattest plant-based drinks are those that contain only coconut. Typically, a range of values is indicated on the packaging of such milk, for example 16-18% . It depends on the raw materials from which a specific batch of goods is made. This drink is higher in calories. Manufacturers recommend shaking the packaging in advance: when cooled, full-fat milk may separate into cream and water. If this does not help, you should heat it up.
The standard fat content of milk with various additives is from 1 to 4%. Sometimes you can find oil in the composition, such as sunflower oil.
Saturation. For complex dishes with a contrast of flavors or instead of cream in coffee, thick, rich milk with a pronounced coconut aroma is suitable. For oatmeal for breakfast or foam for cappuccino, it is better to choose simpler options: too strong a taste can overwhelm the main product.
Before starting the review, I will note that coconut milk has a couple of nuances. Firstly , different batches may differ from each other, primarily depending on the raw materials. Usually the difference is in the texture.
Secondly , storage conditions in the warehouses of marketplaces and supermarkets are not always observed – if you took the drink blindly and didn’t like it, check the reviews on the Internet. Not everyone will be objective, there are also laudatory purchases, but in the photos from real users, the difference between the contents of different packages of the same milk is noticeable .
Thirdly , keep in mind that any drink must be shaken beforehand, and preferably very vigorously. Especially if you choose the Barista option for coffee foam, but don’t plan on frothing milk.
For testing, I selected 12 options from different manufacturers:
- Alpro without sugar.
- Alpro with sugar.
- Nemoloko Barista.
- Green Milk Barista.
- Zinus Barista.
As part of testing, I did not heat the packages, but shook them for 40-60 seconds. If a serious difference appeared, the state before and the result after were assessed. Also, I did not use milk for coffee or cooking and in the review I focus on the initial taste of the drink.