Soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk are great plant-based alternatives to add to your morning cup of coffee, but for some, they don’t quite give you that authentic creamy coffee experience that you might be used to with regular dairy cream. In addition, they curdle in coffee.
But what about coconut milk? Known for its creamy and thick texture and sweet, nutty flavor, this milky-white liquid seems like the perfect plant-based match for your coffee. Plus, its high fat and low carb content make it ideal for keto and low-carb diets.
But does coconut milk curdle in coffee? Let’s find out…
Does Coconut Milk Curdle In Coffee?
Unfortunately, yes—coconut milk can curdle in coffee, as it happens with many plant-based milk alternatives. Coconut milk can even appear curdled before you ever get the chance to mix it with your coffee.
However, the lucky news is that this does not mean your breakfast is ruined. In fact, curled coconut milk in your coffee can be easily fixed and easily prevented.
But first, it’s essential to understand why it happened.
The Science Behind Coconut Milk Curdle
To put it simply, coconut milk is an oil-in-water emulsion—that is, a liquid made by mixing water and oil .
As you may know, water and oil do not mix—you will always see oil droplets floating on top of the water. However, adding emulsifier molecules to the mixture can help bond the two together . For example, egg yolks act as emulsifiers in mayonnaise.
Coconut milk combines coconut pulp fat and liquid, stabilized by proteins acting as emulsifiers. However, the delicate balance can easily break.
How And Why Does Coconut Milk Curdle?
There are three ways your coconut milk can separate, which can happen during your morning coffee.
If coconut milk gets too hot, the heat changes the protein molecules that emulsify the oil and water in the drink. This sudden shift makes the proteins seek each other instead of bonding fat and liquid . The result? Those unsightly lumps.
Something similar happens if you add something too acidic to your coconut milk. Doing so changes the pH of the drink as well as the proteins, separating the oil and the liquid .
On the other hand, if your coconut milk gets too cold, it may separate as well—fat on the top layer and liquid on the bottom. This happens because coconut oil solidifies at around 57°F (14°C), separating it from the fluid .
How To Prevent Coconut Milk From Curdling In Coffee
Understanding how your coconut milk curdles makes it easy to prevent it from ruining your breakfast.
1. Select The Right Coffee
Some coffee variants are too acidic, which means they can cut through your coconut milk and make it curdle. Pay attention to your coffee’s origins to measure its acidity, as African coffee can be more acidic than South American. Also, some suggest that lighter roasts tend to be higher in acidity than darker roasts.
2. Monitor Your Coffee and Coconut Milk Temperatures
Radical temperature changes can guarantee your coffee and coconut milk won’t get along.
If you drink hot coffee, ensure the beverage is never boiling; otherwise, it can make your coconut milk curdle. Similarly, it’d be wise to warm up your coconut milk beforehand, so there won’t be a significant temperature difference.
3. Stir Nonstop
Whether you’re going for hot or iced coffee, your best bet is to stir your drink. Mixing coconut milk can minimize curdling by breaking the bonds between the protein molecules as they lump together.
Simply put, stirring a lot reduces the size of the lumps to the point they’re imperceptible. That is why, for example, it’d be best to use a Nutribullet or immersion blender as you would with Bulletproof coffee mixed with MCT oil.
Can You Drink Coffee With Curdled Coconut Milk?
Yes! More often than not, the curdling you see in coconut milk is perfectly safe and does not mean the drink has gone bad. Just trust your sense of smell and follow these tips—your morning coffee will be perfect again.
While drinking a cup of coffee with curdled coconut milk may not be the best experience, it is not the end of the world. You can easily fix it by mixing it together and making sure your coffee is not too hot, too cold, or acidic. So don’t let this small setback stop you from enjoying your favorite plant-based milk alternative.
-  Patil, Umesh and Benjakul, Soottawat (2018). Coconut Milk and Coconut Oil: Their Manufacture Associated with Protein Functionality. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30004125/.
-  Food Insight (2021). What Are Emuilsifiers, and What Do They Do in Our Food?. Retrieved from https://foodinsight.org/emulsifiers-in-food/
-  Decker, Fred (n/d). How to Keep Coconut Milk From Curdling During Cooking. Retrieved from https://oureverydaylife.com/keep-coconut-milk-curdling-during-cooking-43008.html
-  Riddle, Holly (2021). Do This To Prevent The Plant Milk From Curdling In Your Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.mashed.com/408471/do-this-to-prevent-the-plant-milk-from-curdling-in-your-coffee/
-  Ayam Food (n/d). Information About Coconut Milk. Retrieved from https://ayam.com/?view=article&id=607