If you’re not a black coffee drinker, you might be struggling just a little right now, especially if you’re not a fan of non-dairy powdered creamer. After all, not only are you stuck at home, but you could be stuck at home with another person, and that person might be using all the half & half.
Trying to limit trips to the grocery store, combined with the perishable nature of dairy, might be exacerbating this condition, which is why it’s nice to know all the creamy options that might be hiding in your pantry.
The obvious choices
If you can handle plain ol’ 4% milk in your coffee, shelf-stable, boxed milk is always an option, but I prefer boxed whipping cream. A humble can of evaporated milk is also a very good option.
Evaporated milk is (obviously) not entirely evaporated, but it is richer and fattier than normal, refrigerated milk, though not as rich and fatty as half & half. And that’s exactly what it tastes like—somewhere between milk and half & half. Once you open it, you’ll need to store the rest in the fridge. (An old jam jar works great.)
Then we have sweetened and condensed milk ,which is just an absolute treat. It’s nothing new—it’s what makes Thai coffee and tea so good—and you don’t need a lot of it to make a very creamy, very sweet cup of coffee. It also stores quite well in a repurposed jam jar, and lasts a very long time.
For every can of dairy, there is a coconut counterpart, and coconut cream and milk work pretty well in a hot cup of coffee (it will solidify in cold). I found coconut milk to be a little more flavorful—almost like a Samoa cookie—than coconut cream, and the latter was just a touch too greasy for my liking. (Both develop a slight oil slick, but a quick whisk with a fork will re-emulsify any separated fat.)
That and pourability are two advantages dairy has over coconut. All coconut products are at least a little—if not completely—solid at room temp, and a little agitation is required. Sweetened condensed coconut cream is my favourite creamy coconut product, because of all the sugar, and it—like its dairy counterpart—can be made into a caramel, which is also very good in coffee.
It might be time to bite the bullet(proof)
Putting a tablespoon of unsalted butter in your coffee will not extend your life in any meaningful way, nor will it make you any smarter, but it can give your morning beverage a nice creamy mouthfeel (sorry!), provided you whip the heck out of it. Any sort of blender will work, but an immersion blender is the most elegant. True Bulletproof coffee contains the special Dave Asprey brain oil, but coconut oil works just fine. Just be warned, while it whips up all nice and frothy in hot coffee, it will solidify as your coffee cools, so drink it up quick.