He was my cream, and I was his coffee. When you poured us together, it was something. Josephine Baker.
Do you love your coffee in its purest form, straight out of your capsule coffee machine or stovetop, correctly measured, brewed and poured into your mug, first thing in the morning? Or do you enjoy your morning Joe with that little bit of sweetness and the creamy, velvety texture of coffee creamer?
Let’s be honest here: coffee is best enjoyed as pure black coffee, freshly brewed and unsweetened. But we all love that occasional (maybe more than that!) sweetened, and creamy coffee with its distinctive flavours and aromas-it is the coffee creamer.
What is a coffee creamer?
Coffee creamers are milk substitutes added to black coffee or tea to boost flavour and texture. So coffee creamer is added to your regular coffee. They are also called ‘coffee whiteners’. Coffee creamers are available in different varieties of flavours and forms.
You can buy coffee creamers from your local grocers. They are mainly available in two forms:
- Liquid form: Coffee creamers in liquid form are usually found in the dairy aisle of your favourite supermarket. They are traditionally found in flavours ranging from plain, vanilla extract, and hazelnut extract to chocolate and even pumpkin spice in season. These are not what they sound like; they are gluten-free, fat-free and also available in sugar-free options.
- Powdered form: Coffee creamers in powder varieties are available in containers and individual sachets. With a longer shelf life and stability, they can be your favourites when choosing creamers.
Powdered creamers are available in a range of flavours ranging from vanilla to your favourite mocha varieties. You can also opt for unsweetened and fat-free options.
When you think of coffee creamers, you might imagine it as a creamy option for coffee. But that’s a misnomer. Coffee creamers are dairy-free and gluten-free milk substitutes that impart a similar texture, feel and taste to your coffee as their counterparts like whole milk and a half and half.
What are coffee creamers made of?
They are made of three components: the sugar part, the thickener and the oil. It is the thickener and the oil part that gives it a creamy texture.
Now, for the truth. The non-dairy options of coffee creamers are usually made of corn syrup, cottonseed oil and a lot of added sugar. Some varieties may also contain artificial flavours and colours. With so many options to choose from, it is always best to read your creamer’s labels, before you select one.
Another point to be noted is the low-fat or nonfat options available for coffee creamers. These types of creamers are made of almond milk, soy milk or coconut milk. There you go, a healthier alternative to choose from and a plus point for the lactose intolerant. But they do contain loads of sugar for the added sweetness.
One study found one teaspoon of coffee creamers contains 5 grams of sugar. You could go for the sugar-free options. (They do contain artificial sweeteners though!).
Coffee creamers can also be a source of artificial colours and flavourings. But still, people love them!
They are a coffee delicacy.
Now, you could argue there are other substitutes to add to give coffee the extra creaminess and the rich texture and taste to your coffee. Some options are heavy cream, half and half and non-dairy milk. You can also use:
- Milk powder: Easily available, creamy texture with lower calories.
- Condensed milk: Provides a creamy texture and more on the sweeter side.
- Evaporated milk: With a longer shelf life, a more versatile option for your creamy coffee.
What do coffee creamers taste like?
Coffee creamers taste very much like their counterparts like whole milk and half and half, except that they are dairy-free and gluten-free.
Creamers have a similar texture, feel and consistency to half and half milk. You could call them the ‘vegan alternative’ to sweeten your coffee.
I remember my mom’s coffee. Perfect as it was: freshly brewed coffee with freshly roasted coffee beans, just right, slightly bitter, sweetened and creamy. Oh yeah! It definitely reminds me of home- the magic of delicious creamy coffee.
The Good and the Bad of coffee creamers
Coffee creamers are used as a coffee indulgence, to sweeten and cream your beverage. They are also used as a sweetener over hot cereals or on fresh fruits for a twist. Some people prefer to use the unsweetened plain variety in their soups. So, this creamy liquid is like a staple item in your pantry.
The Good points
- Boosts flavour: Coffee creamers enhance your coffee’s flavour and taste. The best reason for you to love it.
- Different options: Creamers come in many flavours ranging from vanilla, hazelnut, almond, and chocolate to even pumpkin spiced variety. So many flavours to enjoy!
- It makes your coffee extra special. It takes your coffee experience to the next level for ultimate luxury.
- Non-dairy option: This is good news if you are looking for a gluten-free and dairy-free option. A vegan alternative for your coffee. A substitute if you are susceptible to food allergies.
Coffee creamers are best enjoyed as an occasional treat. However, who can resist the heavenly experience of a creamy coffee every morning?
Bad points of coffee creamers
- Coffee taste is lost: Coffee is best enjoyed as black coffee. To enjoy the freshly brewed coffee in its natural sense, it needs to be unsweetened and milk free.
- If you find yourself wanting a creamer in your coffee daily, studies say it can affect your health in the long term.
- Adds up calories: Bad news if you are trying to lose weight. Coffee creamers are high in calories, and using them without restrictions can cause unhealthy weight gain.
- May contain additives: Coffee creamers can be a source of artificial sweeteners, flavours and colourings. It is always best to read your labels before choosing one.
- Dampens health benefits of coffee: Freshly brewed coffee is a source of antioxidants. Research says adding creamers can increase your intake of trans fat (bad fat) and reduce the health benefits of coffee.
How to make homemade coffee creamers?
Coffee creamers can be readily bought from your local supermarket. It is convenient, and readily available in different flavours and forms. So, why bother making them at home?
Because homemade coffee creamers are fresh and you know the ingredients used. You can add and adjust the flavours and taste according to your preference. Better still, it is healthy for your budget.
Trust me, it’s so simple to whisk up a creamer the night before, chill it and it is ready for your morning cuppa. Let’s learn how to make homemade coffee creamer:
Ingredients required: (according to your preference)
- Milk of choice: Half and half, soy milk, almond milk, oat milk.
- Sweetener: White sugar/ brown sugar/ honey/ artificial sweetener.
- Your favourite flavour: vanilla, almond, hazelnut ( endless options. Try a few different flavours).
Preparing the creamer: 4 simple steps before you and the creamer.
Step 1: To a mixing bowl, add two cups of milk, sweetener and flavour of choice to a pot on the stove.
Step 2: Slow whisk the mixture and watch as it starts to simmer.
Step 3: Once the creamer is steaming, remove it from heat and let it rest.
Step 4: Once cooled, chill it overnight. Enjoy with your coffee in the morning (anytime really!) If you want to get fancy you can also top it with whipped cream or ice cream.
How easy was that? Next time, try a homemade coffee creamer. It is way better than your store-bought one. If you are absolutely short of time, then go ahead and buy ‘Coffee Mate’, a famous brand of creamer.
The writer’s verdict: Would you go for creamer or not? Creamer is a beautiful and pleasant addition to your regular coffee for that extra kick and creamy indulgence. But regularly, I would say go for the real thing, low-fat milk or half and half.
Coffee is more than a drink. It is part of your culture, your sense of belonging, connects you, refreshes you, and energises you; it’s a part of who you are. Coffee has long been enjoyed for what it is, freshly brewed, simple yet elegant, a satisfying beverage that brings families, neighbours and even nations together.
Go ahead and enjoy this coffee bliss- with a little creamer.