Ever settled down in a lovely new café or coffee shop, excited for some artfully brewed beans to make your tummy happy or sweep away the vestiges of sleep, only to find out that there is no dairy-free white stuff to froth on top of your latte?
Okay maybe you haven’t. This isn’t something that bothers most of the general populace, but if you’re lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy or vegan, that “no” from the barista resigns you to either a black coffee (ick) or some sort of juice. And c’mon, you really wanted a latte, not to compromise with a second choice.
Since I’ve been trying to reduce my consumption of animal products, this is a new problem that has popped up in my quests for caffeinated beverages. Switching to soya milk is easy at home, but what about when you want to treat yourself to real coffee in the outside world?
Fortunately, thanks to the kind restaurantiers and baristas of Cape Town (seriously, thank you!) this is much less of a hassle than you would expect. Here are some of my favourites:
This gorgeous spot, with its glass-fronted exterior, bright yellow chairs and scientist-style beaker vases is full of character, charm and some lovely dairy-free Deluxe coffee. It’s one of my favourite breakfast spaces that never disappoints in flavour or in presentation.
The rest of their menu is very vegetarian-friendly (i.e. more than the standard single meat-free meal option) but if you’re vegan, you’ll have to skip the egg dishes and request the removal of the cheese for some of the others.
Yes, there is such a thing as a chocolate café. It is in Wale Street, and you should go now. The artisan chocolatiers behind Honest Chocolate (all those slabs are dairy-free, by the way) have created a warm space that serves everything from vegan bunny chows (made with banana bread and chocolate spread) to chocolate tarts, dairy-free ice cream (so delicious), sweet potato brownies and oh ya, coffee.
This little hangout in Bree Street is pretty much always brilliant (especially for breakfast) but they also accommodate those who would prefer to go dairy-free.
The combination of a double shot of Deluxe coffee with some soya goodness is a real winner. They use Alpro soya milk (which is the most expensive option I’ve seen on the supermarket shelf but of course, the best tasting one) and have a few construct-your-own vegan breakfast options to go with your flat white.
This street-side corner café in Vredehoek is a popular choice for lazy weekend brunches and casual lunches, with coffee to match. If you’re looking for a decent latte-to-go, they’re open from 07:30am to accommodate the working crowd in need of caffeine.
Red Sofa is also generally pretty quiet (well, compared to Saturday and Sunday) in the weekday mornings if you’d prefer to work from a window table and take advantage of their free wi fi and great background music.
This quirky little shop selling clothing and antiques recently opened a health café, which serves soya and barista blend almond milk cappuccinos in dainty floral tea cups.
There are also a mix of dairy-free desserts to accompany your coffee, from carrot cake balls to peanut butter cups and the yummiest chickpea fudge (hey, don’t knock it until you’ve ingested 3 blocks in under five minutes).
This all-vegan restaurant off Loop Street is a default if you’re looking for some caffeine without the cow. Their ethically sourced coffee (supplied by Tribe) comes standard with soy milk, but you can also pay a little bit extra for almond and even rice milk.
The food to accompany your beverage is all dairy-free too (I recommend the nachos and peanut buttery fudge brownies).
Between the Le Creuset crockery, airy space, lovely artful breakfasts and the naughty tree in the garden that is prone to dropping rogue pears on your table, how can you not love Starlings?
This indoor-outdoor café crafts a great soya coffee in a relaxed atmosphere — just make sure you go early to grab a spot under the trees (they’re almost always busy).
They don’t just roast the coffee — they serve it too. One of Cape Town’s best coffee providers has a cute café located in the Woodstock Foundry filled with lots of gorgeous natural light and a quirky outdoor seating area (complete with an urban fountain made out of randomly found items). They offer both soya and almond milk to accompany their double-shots of caffeinated magic, as well as a vegetarian-friendly edibles menu.
Other options include Truth, Newport Deli, Bootlegger Coffee Co (offers almond and soya milk), Loading Bay, Masala Dosa (try their spiced dairy-free iced coffee for something different) and Four and Twenty. Coffee powerhouses like Mugg & Bean and Vida e Caffé also offer soya milk alternatives to standard coffee.
I’ve also heard good things about Mischu, Seattle Coffee Company, Tribakery, Woolworths Café, Flatmountain Coffee Roasters, Wellness Café, Knead, La Belle Bistro and Bakery, Vovo Telo, Organic Zone, Dear Me, Yoga Spirit Café, Mango Ginger, Dolce Bakery and the Kirstenbosch Tea Room.
Looking for some vegan and vegetarian fare alongside your brew? Take a look at my list of awesome Cape Town restaurants offering meat-free and plant-based food.
Do you have a favourite spot for enjoying some dairy-free coffee? I’m always looking for new options… Let me know in the comments!