Coffee is inherently and naturaly vegan! Have no doubt about it.
I actually almost felt like an idiot when I wrote that title. But the issue has to be tackled and we should talk about it.
Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans. Coffee beans are derived from the seeds of berries picked from coffea plants. So coffee, in its simple form, is definitely vegan.
Then why is there such a thing as vegan coffee in the market?
There is always a market for coffee anywhere in this whole wide world – from the poorest and smallest village to the most sophisticated and wealthiest city. But commerce sometimes makes businessmen want to rake in tons of money in the shortest time possible, by hook or by crook.
Business is not all bad in itself. But some people tend to just want to satisfy the greed that seems ingrained in them. Like employing less-than-honest and misleading marketing designs and strategies. Like trying to market “vegan coffee,” for instance. It is, however we reason about it, some sort of a scam.
Marketing coffee and coffee beans as vegan come in any of the following wrappings:
As a weight-loss coffee drink. Vegan food is supposed to be good for losing weight. In this marketing ploy, coffee has to be vegan in order for it to be used as a weight-loss-formula agent. Coffee is not, in itself, a weight-loss formula – however we package and present it.
As a purely-vegan drink. Some people like their coffee creamed or flavored. To be more attractive to the vegan market segment, the unscrupulous businessman packages his coffee clothed in a variety of vegan cream or milk to bolster the image they want to present their so-called vegan coffee, such as with:
- Plant-based milk
Fancy-bag packaging with the “100% VEGAN” label prominently printed on the front and back. It is, of course, pricey to reinforce the vegan notion.
Why does “vegan” coffee tend to be more expensive?
Veganism is the practice of doing without any animal product, specifically on the diet. The person who practices this culture is called a vegan.
Vegans are particular about the food that they eat, including coffee.
The ethical vegan even extends the vegan philosophy from just the plant-based diet into the other areas of life and opposes the use of animals for any purpose. Veganism then becomes a moral and political issue, abhorring and avoiding any and all forms of cruelty to animals including human beings.
The environmental vegan goes deeper in the avoidance of animal products and derivatives. For the environmental vegan, industrial farming is unsound and unsustainable because it is environmentally damaging.
Hence, for coffee to be considered “vegan,” its production, processing and serving as a brewed drink should be such that all of the taboos and abhorrences of veganism are considered.
It is worth noting, though, that not all vegans follow all of the dietetical, ethical, moral and political advocacies and philosophies as mentioned above very strictly. But suffice it to say that when our everyday vegan wants to drink coffee, some standard has to be followed.
The veganism movement and the vegan preferences and standards did not escape the keen eye of the businessman. It was seen as a marketing opportunity and was capitalized on, packaged in various ways, some in not-so-honest marketing ploys and strategies.
Hence, the higher price.
Can vegans drink coffee?
Everybody (or almost everyone) can drink coffee.
So can vegans. Why not?
So long as coffee is produced, brewed and served without animal meat, eggs and milk mixed into it, vegans can drink it anytime.
It is a different story with the ethical vegan who will want to make sure that even the use (and abuse) of farm animals in the production and processing of coffee has been avoided and refrained from.
Is coffee naturally vegan?
Coffee in its natural state, as beans or seeds from coffea plant berries, is definitely and naturally vegan.
Roast the beans, grind and then brew – simple as that, and you get to enjoy the magical taste and aroma of your fresh coffee brew.
Now, let us talk about coffee history and some trivia.
Long before vegans came into being, coffee was already planted, consumed and exported from Ethiopia to Yemen, chiefly. It was said that Sufi monasteries in Yemen used coffee to enhance concentration during prayers.
Islam centers Mecca and Medina were the gateways for coffee to the Middle East, Persia, Turkey and on to India and Northern Africa early in the 16th Century. Coffee houses then emerged in Cairo, Egypt.
A special coffeehouse culture that viewed coffee as a social lubricant developed in Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The cafés evolved from mere social hubs into artistic and intellectual centers. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir met friends at Le Deux Magots in Paris, now a tourist attraction.
In Southeast Asia, there is the Philippines, along with a very few other countries, which now produce the four commercially-viable coffee varieties – the arabica, liberica (barako), excelsa and robusta. The country has come a long way from the first coffee tree introduced to Lipa, Batangas by a Spanish Franciscan friar in 1740.
The rich history of coffee pervades countries and cultures. It tells us of its palatability to coffee drinkers – without adverse effects. Why? Because coffee is a plant product brewed into the popular beverage that it is.
Now, is there any doubt or question about coffee being naturally vegan?
What is the best non-dairy milk for coffee?
Vegan coffee will cease to become vegan if dairy milk or other animal-derived creamer is used. So what vegan creamer can we use?
Actually, there are many plant-based milk alternatives that can be used to flavor our coffee. Here are some listed down below:
Almond milk. This is a classic nut milk with a thin and velvety body. It has a subtle nutty and semi-sweet flavor.
Cashew milk. Although thin, it is super-creamy. It is also nutritionally dense with a hint of nutty flavor. Especially great for steaming.
Coconut milk. Rich and creamy with an oily feel. Tends to have a distinct taste and oily feel that can stand out. May cause stomach upset if taken a bit too much.
Flax seed milk. Nutritious milk with an earthy-nutty tone. These same flavors are amplified when mixed into coffee. Similar to cashew milk, but a bit thinner.
Hemp milk. A somewhat thin milk, yet still creamy. Has a slightly nutty flavor very similar to almond milk.
Macadamia milk. A thick and smooth nut milk. There is a surprising hint of fruity subtlety in this milk that is definitely a must-try.
Oat milk. Naturally sweeter and thicker compared to most vegan milk – no wonder it has become a barista favorite of late.
Pea milk. Despite its neutral flavor, it is considered as the most nutritious vegan milk. It has a consistency that is more like a combination of soya and almond milk.
Rice milk. If you want to avoid nuts and the milk from them, this is the one for you – a light milk that has a translucent appearance with a subtle sweet flavor.
Soya milk. This milk is nutritionally dense and contains almost as much protein as dairy milk. Creamy and balanced, the flavor can vary depending on what brand you choose.
Which of the above do you think comes closest to your taste? Or you can try just a little of each first to find out which among them suits your taste preference best.
Is coffee creamer vegan?
Thank goodness the creamer that pairs up with coffee, the coffee creamer, is dairy-free. Therefore, it is vegan.
There is some concern, though. Coffee creamers contain loads of added sugar as a result of heavy processing. Some popular brands can contain up to 5 grams of added sugar per serving. That’s a lot!
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men of added sugar per day. That’s about 6 and 9 teaspoons, respectively.
That means, you will have just a little to no more room for your sweetener if you drink three to six cups of coffee per day.
Anyhow, it is good to know what that coffee creamer contains.
But I say it now and I say it again: coffee creamer, being dairy-free, is vegan.
Can I be vegan and put sugar in my coffee?
Sure, you can put sugar in your coffee, just like everybody else.
Sugar is usually plant-based – cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc. So, you can put sugar in your coffee and still be a vegan.
But please do take note: there is sugar in honey and milk. But since they come from bees and animals, they are not for the vegan to use as sweeteners. Anything dairy or animal-derived is a no-no for the vegan.Just stay with the sugar that we all have been used to. Just remember to keep to the limits that the American Heart Association has set.
What are the ethical considerations of drinking coffee?
What? There are ethical considerations for drinking coffee?
Aside from use of the proper utensils (cup, saucer, teaspoon, carafe, etc.) when drinking coffee, there are the other ethical considerations behind your drinking of the coffee you so love.
There are the aspects of socio-economic and political ethics involved, not in the actual drinking of your coffee, per se, but more on the macro consideration of the coffee industry vis-a-vis its ecological impact and relevance to the planet.
At present, there exists in the United States two coffee sourcing approaches involved in the production, processing and trading of coffee, worldwide – Fair Trade and Direct Trade. Both also intend to include other produce and products, but coffee is now their advocacy focus.
Although misconstrued as enemies because of the difference in their approach and strategies, they actually are of a somewhat similar direction for a better business and work environment for coffee farmers, processors and traders.
Their methods and strategies are not always communicated very well and so results in incomplete and questionable accuracy.
The following matrix embodying the salient features of both coffee sourcing approaches is presented below so we may better understand their roles and reason for being:
|Elements||Fair Trade||Direct Trade|
|Farmer wages and salaries||Must pay workers a fair, living wage as one of the criteria for Fair Trade Certification.||Direct Trade roasters normally buy premium coffee produce at a higher price that directly and indirectly benefits the farming community.|
|Ecological responsibility and sustainability||Must employ environmental sustainability strategies on property(ies) used for coffee farming, processing and trade.||The strictly-business transaction does not have a provision for accountability vis-à-vis environmental sustainability.|
|Conduct of business and trade||Must adopt and employ healthy and ethical business practices.||Strictly business relationship without emphasis on business ethics.|
|Organizational-community benefits sharing||A very small cut from the business profits is retained by Fair Trade.||Direct and specific benefits in terms of income/ profits to both transacting parties (farmer and roaster) – no organizational fees.|
|Product quality assurance and standardization||Awards Fair Trade Certification but not very strict in terms of product quality.||Producers strive for higher-quality coffee which commands better prices and redounds to higher farmer income.|
|Distribution/ trading channel||Employs middleman exporters who corner a sizable share from the possible profits.||Direct Trade roasters work out deals directly and develop tighter business relationships with farmers, bypassing middlemen.|
As vegans, let us pitch in and ethically drink our coffee. Don’t buy ‘em cheap. Drink only high-quality vegan coffee.
Can you be vegan and still drink coffee?
So… can vegans drink coffee?
With all that has been said in this article and elsewhere, yes, the vegan can drink coffee. But make sure it is the vegan coffee you are drinking as defined by you, vegans!
There is responsibility that comes along with enjoying the fresh-aroma and vibrance we so love in our brew.
As with anything and everything we do.