Friday, July 27, 2012

The Battle: Cream & Milk vs. Non-Dairy Creamer

Some people love their coffee just as it comes out of the pot – plain and black.  But many people add sugar or other sweeteners as well as milk, cream or non-dairy creamer to make coffee a more palatable and enjoyable beverage.

Which way is better?  Well, that’s a question that might never be answered.  (After all, we STILL don’t know if the chicken or the egg came first!) 
But what we can explore is non-dairy creamer and how it stacks up to its competition.
Where Did Non-Dairy Creamer Come From?
Let’s start by defining cream.  Plain and simple, it’s the layer of butterfat on top of raw milk.
Non-dairy creamers were developed in order to accommodate people who wanted cream in their coffee but were not able to consume milk for one reason or another (most commonly lactose intolerance and those following a Vegan lifestyle).
A product called “Pream” was among the first powdered creamers to be mass marketed.  Watch a Pream TVcommercial.  Despite the claims made in that commercial, Pream unfortunately did not dissolve very easily.  Made from sugar and dehydrated cream, the milk proteins made it difficult for it to dissolve.
Next came a product that we all know and many people love:  Coffee-Mate.  Around since 1958, Coffee-Mate dissolves much more easily than its predecessors due to alterations in the ingredients – a reduction of the milk protein and the addition of vegetable oil in place of milk fat.
Are Non-Dairy Creamers Truly Dairy-Free?
This is another loaded question, but the answer is…sometimes.
Many creamers marked non-dairy contain no lactose, but some do contain a milk protein called casein, which is added to enhance the flavor and texture of non-dairy creamer.  Casein can potentially cause a reaction in some people who are lactose intolerant, and others are specifically allergic to casein itself.  Also, the presence of casein means that some non-dairy creamers are not technically vegan. 
Always carefully read product labels and understand exactly what you’re buying.
Does Non-Dairy Creamer Last Forever?
Definitely not!  While non-dairy creamers (both liquid and powdered) do have longer shelf lives than milk or cream, they DO have expiration dates.  Again, be sure to carefully read the packaging for “best by” or “use by” dates.
Whether you love milk, cream, or non-dairy creamer, the good news is that there are loads and loads of options out there – from whole milk to skim, from regular cream to fat free half-and-half, from plain Coffee-Mate to Coffee-Mate Belgian Chocolate Toffee!

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