Half-and-Half vs Evaporated Milk As Coffee Creamers

When it comes to coffee, many people like to add a touch of creaminess to their cups to mellow out the bold taste of black coffee. There are many different dairy products that you can add to your favorite coffee drinks to spice it up. Two popular options for adding extra creaminess to coffee are evaporated milk and half-and-half.

While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between these two dairy products. Both of which can significantly impact the taste and texture of your coffee. 

Although both are good options in place of regular milk in coffee, determining which is better is a matter of taste. This is kind of important seeing that the perfect morning coffee is a great way to start your day.

What is Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk is a dairy product that is made by heating milk until about 60% of its water content evaporates. This leaves a concentrated, creamy liquid behind. The process of heating the milk gives it a slightly caramelized taste. This taste is richer and sweeter than regular milk.

Evaporated milk in a can.

It is sold in cans and is a good substitute for cream or whole milk. Also, it has a longer shelf life than regular milk and can be stored in the pantry until opened. Once opened, it should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days.

What is Half-and-Half?

On the other hand, half-and-half is a mixture of an equal amount of whole milk and heavy cream (some people also use light cream). It typically contains around 10-18% milk fat, which makes it richer and creamier than regular milk, but less rich than heavy cream. Furthermore, unlike evaporated milk, half-and-half is not concentrated, so it has a lighter, more delicate taste. It also has a higher fat content than evaporated milk, which makes it creamier and richer. When added to coffee, half-and-half gives it a luxurious, velvety texture that is hard to beat.

It can be found in the dairy section of almost any grocery store and should be refrigerated and consumed within a week after opening.

The Differences Between Evaporated Milk and Half-and-Half

Before you can make a decision as to which of these you want to use in your coffee you’d have to know the differences between them. 

Shelf Life

Evaporated milk has a longer shelf life than half-and-half. Evaporated milk is a canned product that has been heated and sterilized during the canning process. This helps to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.

When stored in a cool, dry place and unopened, evaporated milk can last up to 6-12 months past its expiration date. (Or so they say, I’m not ready to test it, though.) Once opened, however, it should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days.

In contrast, half-and-half is a fresh dairy product that has not been canned or sterilized. This means that it doesn’t have quite the long shelf life that evaporated milk does. It should be consumed within a week after opening. Furthermore, it should also be refrigerated at all times to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.

It’s important to always check the expiration date and storage instructions on both products before using them, to ensure that they are safe and fresh for consumption.

Health Considerations

In terms of health, both evaporated milk and half-and-half can add some calories and fat to your coffee. However, there are some differences between the two.

Because of the evaporation process, evaporated milk is a concentrated, creamy liquid. It is generally lower in fat than half-and-half, with around 2-3 grams of fat per tablespoon. It is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, particularly vitamin D and calcium.

Half-and-half, on the other hand, is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and heavy cream. It contains a higher fat content than evaporated milk, with around 3-4 grams of fat per tablespoon. It is also lower in protein, vitamins, and minerals than evaporated milk.

Overall, neither product can be considered “healthy” per se as both of these have quite a high fat content. However, evaporated milk may be a slightly healthier option for those who are watching their fat intake or looking for a source of protein and vitamins.


Evaporated milk is generally sweeter than half-and-half because of the way it’s made. The process of heating milk, until most of the water content evaporates, causes the natural sugars in the milk to concentrate. This results in a slightly caramelized taste that is richer and sweeter than regular milk without added sugar. This sweetness can add a subtle flavor to coffee and make it taste creamier and more decadent, without being too overpowering.

In contrast, half-and-half is a combination of equal parts whole milk and heavy cream. This results in a creamier and richer taste than regular milk, but without the concentrated sweetness of evaporated milk. It can add a subtle creaminess to a cup of coffee, but won’t make it taste as sweet as evaporated milk.

However, neither of these will truly satisfy a sweet tooth. So, if you want to really battle the bitterness of coffee with something other than milk products, adding your favorite sweetener might be your best option.

Coffee Recipes With Evaporated Milk And Half-and-Half

Most of the time when you use either of these in coffee, it is pretty much up to you how much to use. The amounts that I give here are merely ideas for where you can start. From there on you can adjust it to your own taste.

Evaporated Milk in Cold Brew

I actually tested this one and you can read all about my experience with it in my post about sweetening cold brew.

With this drink, I like a 1:1 ratio of coffee to evaporated milk. This gives it a creamy texture, perfect for a hot summer day.

Thai Iced Coffee

Evaporated milk is a common ingredient in Thai coffee. It is added to taste depending on how creamy a texture you are after.

Vietnamese Coffee

Although it is not common practice to add evaporated milk to Vietnamese coffee, I have heard of many people who do it.

Normal Coffee

Both evaporated milk and half-and-half are suitable substitutes for regular cow’s milk in your coffee if you prefer a creamier texture. This is especially true if you prefer a creamy texture, but want to consume fewer calories.

A good idea, if you want to limit your fat intake, might also be to use the fat-free varieties of either evaporated milk or half-and-half in your daily coffee drink.

In terms of the amount to add, I would suggest that you start with a little less than you would have used milk. The reason is that both of these are creamier than milk. It’s better to later add more than to have added to much and then you are stuck with coffee that is too creamy.

Which one is better for coffee?

As I mentioned, that depends on personal preference. People have different tastes. If you like your coffee with a creamier and sweeter flavor, then evaporated milk might be the way to go. However, half-and-half might be the better option if you prefer a more velvety, luxurious texture.

One thing to keep in mind is that both evaporated milk and half-and-half can affect the overall taste of your coffee, so it’s important to use them in moderation. Too much creaminess can overpower the taste of coffee and make it too heavy. The key is to find the perfect balance between the coffee’s bold flavor and the creaminess of the milk.

In summary, both evaporated milk and half-and-half are great options for adding creaminess to coffee. While they may seem similar, they have distinct differences that can significantly impact the taste and texture of your coffee.

Whether you prefer a slightly sweet taste or a velvety texture, there’s a creamer out there for you. The key is experimenting with different options until you find the perfect balance for your taste buds.

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