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What Is A Vegan Coffee? Do Vegans Drink Coffee?

What Is A Vegan Coffee

Is coffee vegan?

Last updated on December 13th, 2023

What is vegan coffee? A vegan coffee is simply a coffee made with no animal-derived ingredients.

And the good news for us coffee-loving vegans is that we don’t need to kick our habit. Getting your hands on a vegan-friendly coffee is an easy feat. 

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Coffee is just a drink made using coffee beans so maybe you’re confused when you hear people saying ‘what is a vegan coffee?’

Coffee With Diary Is Not A Vegan Coffee

Well, let’s just start off with the basics. If you make yourself a cup of coffee and add a drop or two of dairy milk, tada, you’ve very quickly made yourself a non-vegan coffee. Dairy is not vegan, ever.

So, coffee with either dairy milk or cream comes under the not-suitable for vegans category. But don’t worry there are loads of plant-based milk options that are all vegan-friendly. Such as soy milk, oat milk, almond milk and many more. I’m a big fan of Alpro’s Vanilla Soya milk in coffee.

Alpro Vanilla soy milk - vegan coffee

So, if you want milk in your coffee use plant-based milk.

It can take a little time to find the one you like the most but once you get past the initial teething stage, you’ll be set to enjoy coffee like anyone else!

Now let’s get to the actual coffee

Well, as I mentioned above, coffee itself, is made using coffee beans. And coffee beans are, as you’d imagine, fine for vegans as they’re simply just the seeds of the coffea plant.

So, regular coffee is fine, for example, Nespresso states all of their coffees are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Nescafé original instant coffee is vegan too. You’ll find most instant coffee you find in the supermarket is fine.

However, not every cup of the good stuff is vegan. I’m glad to say this won’t be a problem for the everyday coffee drinker, but if you fancy yourself a bit of a coffee aficionado and want to test and try every coffee going then I do have news for you. Not all coffee is vegan. Most is, but not all!

Vegan Friendly Coffee

Is Kopi Luwak Coffee Vegan?

Kopi Luwak is a very interesting type of coffee. And most don’t consider it vegan. It’s made using…..animal poo! 

Now, I don’t know, maybe some interesting folk could argue that poo is vegan, and I guess that’s accurate. If you find some poo outside, bring it home, stick it in a cup with hot water and drink it, it could be fair to say it’s vegan. 

No animal is impacted in the process, maybe just your state of mind.

However, in the case of Kopi Luwak, the same argument is not usually valid.

Partially digested coffee cherries are used to make Kopi Luwak Coffee. The Asian palm civet, binturong or other animals from the Viverridae animal family eat the coffee cherries.

Then, as they pass through their body they’re fermented, and then, the somewhat coffee cherries, are used to make Kopi Lukak coffee.

Now, when these droppings are collected in the wild, in theory, this coffee could be considered ethical.

But often Asian palm Civets are taken out of their natural habitat and are kept in captivity.

The growing demand for luxury and the desire for quirky ways to spend disposable income, is causing an increase in the demand for Kopi Lawak coffee.

The demand is so high that the wild sourcing of this coffee is being abandoned by many. They’re keeping the animals captive to make the process easier and more profitable. 

So this bizarre coffee may have been considered vegan in the past but today it’s clearly causing harm to animals.

Is Coffee Shop Coffee Vegan?

Is Coffee Shop Coffee Vegan?

These days we have a great selection when choosing our plant-based milk in most coffee shops. Some still charge a little extra for non-dairy, but that’s becoming less common. 

If you’re going for a regular type of coffee such as an americano, cappuccino, flat white or latte you’ll be pretty safe as long as you choose plant-based milk. 

However, once you start to go down fancy-street you have to be careful. Syrups, cream and other toppings are often not vegan. So always ask if you want to add a little extra to your drink. In my experience, the baristas know their stuff. 

And don’t rule out getting a vegan dessert-style coffee because these are becoming more popular. And if you haven’t tried the vegan cream on top of your latte in Starbucks, it’s definitely something to look forward to. 

Is Instant Coffee Vegan? 

Dairy Free Coffee

Yes, instant coffee is vegan. It’s usually made using coffee and water, which makes a jar of instant coffee a safe bet. 

The thing you have to watch out for is sachets, as convenient as you are, they often contain milk powder, especially the latte and cappuccino ones, of course. 

However, you’ll vegan find vegan options for these too. Nescafe has a range of vegan-friendly lattes that you just need to add water to. Such as these Nescafé Gold Non-Dairy Oat Latte Instant Coffees.

Are Coffee Pods Vegan?

Yes, coffee pods are usually vegan. I drink Nespresso coffee and I’m a big fan, the pods just contain ground coffee. So they are vegan. You can recycle them, but not in your bin at home though. You just need to use a Nespresso recycling bag and bring it to a shop that has a Collect Plus service. Please do!

However not all coffee pods are vegan because some machines have pods for making lattes and other milky coffees, in this case, you’ll need to look for ones that especially use plant-based milk, as the regular ones contain dairy milk and are not vegan-friendly. 


So, the good news is that if you stick to plant-based milk and don’t go for strange and ‘luxurious’ coffees like Kopi Lawak, it’s pretty easy to make sure your morning latte or espresso is vegan.

As the clock strikes 5 coffee isn’t the only drink I like to enjoy, if you’re the same why not check out these posts too – Why is Vegan Wine Different? And Is beer vegan? Yes, sometimes. So, what beers are vegan?

Meet the Author

Author Bio - Sinead OCarroll - The Wondering Wandering Vegan

Meet Sinead O’Carroll: Vegan explorer, sustainability advocate and the founder of The Wondering Wandering Vegan. Embracing veganism since 2018 and vegetarianism since 2005, Sinead is armed with a Vegan Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle qualification, and is on a mission to share her passion for cruelty-free living. 

With a taste for adventure and a heart for eco-conscious choices, she’s here to prove that vegans never miss out on flavour, fun or style. Join her in enjoying the delights of a vegan-friendly world! 🌱✈️🌍
Want to know more? Check out Sinead’s About page here.

Follow me on Instagram to see all the delicious vegan food I find, the vegan and cruelty-free products I use and what I get up to as a travelling vegan.

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