It's early in the morning, or maybe the middle of the afternoon. You're dazed and need caffeine, so you get your act together enough to brew yourself a fresh pot of coffee. You pour yourself a steaming hot mug and go to the fridge to grab the carton of milk, only to find that you have no milk for coffee. Maybe you open the carton and smell that it's gone bad, or find that your roommate used up all the milk without getting a new carton. Whatever the reason, the severity of the situation is acute: you've got hot coffee and no milk and you enter crisis mode because you need a substitute for milk in coffee now.

These aren't your standard dairy substitutes for coffee, because if you don't have regular, old milk, chances are good you don't have soy or almond or coconut or macadamia nut milk in your fridge either. And though some dairy products seem like they'd be fine to put into your milk, you might want to avoid them because they're actually kind of terrible. My editor would probably want me to note here that she once tried buttermilk in her coffee, and it did not end well, but she did drink the whole thing because it was still coffee.

You don't have to be like my editor, though, and chances are good that you've got some suitable milk alternatives for your coffee in your kitchen that are better than buttermilk. Sure, these swaps might not become your new standard order, but they'll definitely do if you're panicked and need some cream in your coffee cup. Just remember to pick up another carton of milk the next time you leave the house.

Ice Cream

At the end of the day, ice cream is basically frozen milk and sugar—which is what you'd be putting into your coffee anyway. Plop a spoonful of it in your coffee and stir, and if it's chocolate, even better! You're basically making yourself a mocha. You could even get fancy with it and say you're making yourself an affogato.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream in your coffee is the same basic principle as ice cream in your coffee, since whipped cream is, as the name suggests, cream that has been aerated. If you add it to hot coffee, it'll becoming a liquid again. Just make sure to stir it in completely so it doesn't clump up.


Putting a slab of unsalted butter in your coffee sounds gross to the uninitiated, but there's a whole group of people who swear by it. It's been popularized over the last few years by Dave Asprey, who calls it Bulletproof coffee. The trick is to mix up the coffee and butter in a blender so it gets a nice froth, almost like a buttery latte.

Coconut Oil

If you don't have butter, try coconut oil. Much like with butter, make sure you whisk the coconut oil into your coffee so that it froths up, otherwise the oil will just pool at the top.


If you're desperate for something creamy in your coffee, you're desperate. Pour a shot of whiskey or maybe some coffee liqueur to add that extra oomph to your mug. You're probably feeling like you've started the day on a bad foot anyway, so might as well treat yourself.