After a few months of tasting and testing, Alice Webb-Liddall ranks dairy free chocolate milks, because we all deserve a good drop of cool cocoa without the animal element.
OPINION: My mother always insisted on buying me a chocolate milk after every game of high school netball. "It's scientifically proven to refuel your muscles better than Powerade or water or anything else," she told me every Saturday morning for years.
It might be the reason why I'm still a sucker for a choccie milk, especially on Saturday mornings (though usually now as a hangover cure rather than a sports day treat). But when you grow old like me, at the frail age of 21, you begin to realise that your stomach might not like the cow juice as much as you thought, and your Saturday morning hit of cocoa becomes more and more painful.
So the journey of exploring New Zealand's growing collection of dairy-free chocolate milk available in dairys, supermarkets, petrol stations and speciality stores began. After a few years of searching, I feel educated enough to now share my thoughts with the people, so here is my ranking of dairy-free chocolate milks*, from worst to best.
7. Covet Macadamia Milk Chocolate Milk
Price: $6 for 1 litre
'Oooh, macadamia milk!' I hear you say. Be careful where you aim your excitement though because while this looks like a nice dark chocolate brew, it tastes like sweet dirt. It's no peasant's nut, the macadamia, and it was a first for me trying its milk. But after this one, I don't think I will again. A disgrace really.
6. Vamino Chocolate Soy Milk
Price: $1.29 for 300ml
It's concerning how much this one separates in the bottle, and more concerning that it doesn't mix no matter how hard you shake it. Luckily the weird brown blobs don't affect the mouthfeel, which is pretty creamy. More of a malt-chocolate taste, like a soy milo drink, than a chocolate milk, and probably fine warmed up. But I didn't try that so if it's not good warmed up, fight me. It's also the only chocolate milk I've ever had that you need a bottle opener for, which is quite annoying and meant I had to make an additional trip to the kitchen.
5. So Good Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
Price: $4 for 375ml
So Good's Vanilla Bliss is my ultimate holiday treat, and I was looking forward to their quite recently released chocolate flavours. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan. It's sweet enough and has a fine consistency (a little on the watery side) but that's to be expected from almond milk. My main qualm is that they're not chocolatey enough at all. Gimme a good hit of cacao or I don't wanna hear about it.
4. Vitasoy Soy Milky Chocolate Milk
Price: $3.79 for 1 litre
Look, it's a bloody bargain so I feel like I can't complain too much about this one. It's a lil bit creamy, a lil bit chocolatey, and a lil bit up alley. Not offensive, not expensive, not amazing. But ultimately, I'll buy this again because my chocolate milk budget is small.
3. Little Island Coconut Chocolate Milk
Price: $8 for 1 litre
This was the only response I got when I asked on Instagram what the best no-dairy choccie milk was, and frankly, I'm sick of it. I tried it for the first time and despite trying to hate it, I thought it was really yum. It's pricey AF but if you can afford it, I think it's earnt the praise it's been getting.
The issue with coconut milk is that it likes to announce itself, and I found with Little Island the first taste was coconut with the chocolate as more of a follow-up act. It also leaves a slight oily film in the mouth. So if you're not into coconut, this ain't the one for you. But it truly is a creamy morsel and deserving of a podium finish.
2. Vitasoy Almond Chocolate Milk
Price: $3.30 for 330ml
I didn't think an almond milk would rate this highly until I tried this one. Somehow the usual watery consistency of almond juice has been replaced with a creaminess I didn't think could happen. It's not as creamy as Little Island, and technically pricier per litre, but it was perfectly chocolate and perfectly sweet and I want another bottle.
1. Vitasoy Soya Milk Drink - Chocolate
Price: $9.00 for a six-pack
A workmate brought these in the other day from their trip to Mercury Plaza in Auckland, and it was everything I have ever needed from a chocolate milk. It's a post-netball Primo level sip: creamy, rich, no weird soy aftertaste. They're the most expensive on the list because I think you can only buy these babies in a six-pack in New Zealand, but it's the best dairy-free chocolate milk I've tasted. They're also not easy to find, so Google some local Chinese supermarkets if you want to wrap your mouths around one.
* There are definitely more dairy-free chocolate milks out there, but this was what I could find.