Don’t open up a can for your coffee
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Glass bottle of coconut milk with red and white striped straw
Credit: Photo by MAIKA 777 via Getty Images

All coconut milks are not created equal. If you’ve ever tried to dump the contents of a can of coconut milk into your morning coffee, you’re already all too familiar with this fact. Canned coconut milk is just coconut and water (and sometimes a stabilizer), while coconut milks that come in a carton, like dairy or other non-dairy milks, are specially formulated. Oftentimes, they’re a mixture of coconut cream (a thick, higher-fat concentration of coconut and water) and water with some thickeners and stabilizers. Sometimes, these milks could even contain coconut water, which has a very distinct flavor. In short, coconut milk flavor will vary from brand to brand. That’s why I knew you’d appreciate this guide to which coconut milk you should use in your breakfast routine. No need to thank me—I’m just doing my job.

For Cereal: Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Coconut Original

This mild, creamy milk is exactly what I’m looking for to eat with my Cheerios. Pacific Foods’s coconutty flavor adds richness, but it’s not so rich that I feel like the milk is coating my throat uncomfortably.

For Smoothies: Vita Coco Coconut Milk Original

This newly-launched blend of coconut milk, coconut water, and stabilizers is ideal for smoothies, when odds are you’re looking for more nutrients wherever you can get them. Coconut water is packed with electrolytes, which are great for proper hydration. In my opinion, the flavor of coconut water is, although subtle, sort of weird in coffee, but Vita Coco is truly tasty in a smoothie.

For Coffee: So Delicious Original Coconut Creamer

You can say that this is not actually a coconut milk, it’s a coconut creamer, but why do you care so much? This is my story, and So Delicious creamer is delicious. You can tell I’m serious because although I genuinely enjoy (sometimes even prefer) non-dairy milk in all other applications but drip coffee. I like whole milk from a cow in drip coffee. I’ve tried many other non-dairy milks and creamers in drip coffee, and So Delicious creamer is the only one I’ve truly enjoyed.

For Curries, Soups, and Stews: Canned Coconut Milk

Unless you’re making coconut whipped cream, which requires consistency from can to can with regard to cream and water separation, any canned coconut milk is what you should use for dishes like Thai curries and creamy vegan soups. I tend to prefer AROY-D Coconut Milk, but will often settle for 365 Everyday Value coconut milk because it’s easier to find.

For Oatmeal or Chia Pudding: Califia Farms Go Coconuts Coconut Milk

Another coconut milk + coconut water + stabilizer blend, Califia Farms’s coconut milk is, like their almond milk, ultra-rich and creamy. This makes it an ideal match for puddings and porridges, regardless of flavorings and toppings.