Non-dairy creamer is a milk or cream substitute used primarily for flavoring coffee and tea. There are a variety of these creamers made with various products, but most of the standard or best-known brands contain the protein-rich milk derivative casein in the form of sodium caseinate. For this reason vegans and some vegetarians choose to use a soy-based creamer instead. Other ingredients in the typical non-dairy creamer include cornstarch and vegetable oils.
Nestlé’s Coffee-Mate™ was the first and is probably the best-known non-dairy creamer, hitting the market in 1961. Today there are many popular brands including Cremora™, International Delight™, Flavor Charm™, and Coffee Rich™. This material is lactose-free, which might explain initial reasons manufacturers wanted to label these products as “non-dairy,” as this would attract those consumers who are lactose intolerant, or unable to consume milk and cream.
Non-dairy creamer comes in powder form or as a refrigerated liquid. Advantages of the powder form are that it won’t cool your coffee and it has a longer shelf life. However, some find the liquid version more convenient and richer in texture and taste. Generally it is recommended that liquid creamers be consumed within 14 days of opening the product.
In addition to standard non-dairy creamer, many manufacturers offer a variety of flavored creamers. French Vanilla, Caramel, Hazelnut, Irish Crème and Macadamia Nut are just a few of the many choices available that can make regular coffee taste like it came from an expensive coffee-house instead of your kitchen.
A non-dairy creamer that is soy-based will not contain sodium caseinate or any other animal product or derivative. Crème de la Soy™ is one example, and Silk Original Creamer™ is another soy-based creamer. These products are safe for vegans and for those vegetarians who wish to avoid animal products.
Some people prefer to make their own non-dairy creamer using corn starch, powdered sugar and flavor extracts (such as vanilla extract). The recipe should be mixed in a little cold water before being stirred into a hot beverage.