Coffee Companion, aka Homemade Coffee Mate

April 2nd, 2008  |  Published in All, Delectable Dairy, DIY Food Projects, Most Popular  |  37 Comments

Coffee MateHomemade Coffee Companion

Coffee Companion, aka Homemade ‘Coffee Mate’

1 pint half and half or cream, whichever you prefer
1 vanilla bean
1-2 T sugar, to taste

Heat half and half in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts steaming, but is not yet boiling. Remove from heat. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into half and half. Add the bean to the half and half.

Cover, and let infuse until mixture is cool. Remove vanilla beam, add sugar, and stir. Pour into a bottle or jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My last remaining vice in the high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden, partially-hydrogenated, machine-cuisine world I’ve been gradually opting out of is, believe it or not, French Vanilla Coffee Mate.

Eww, gross! you’re probably thinking…

This is the ingredient list, transcribed from the back of the container:

Water, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, sodium castenate, dipotassium phosphate, color added, natural and artificial flavors, sodium stearoyl lactylate, mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 60, carrageenan, beta-carotene color

Seriously, what the heck is ‘beta-carotene color’??

So now that we’ve seen all the un-pronounable things that ARE in there, let’s make a note of what’s NOT in there: Cream, vanilla.

But, oh the convenience of flavoring my morning coffee in one fell swoop! I’ve tried getting off ‘the Mate’ (as Steven calls it) a few times before, but before that first sip of coffee, it’s hard for me to motivate to get out the cream AND the sugar, let alone anything remotely resembling vanilla. I’ll go for a day or two or three, but eventually I make my way back to … the Mate.

And then it dawned on me — I can make my own coffee mate, and hence was born ‘Coffee Companion’: vanilla-infused cream with a little bit of sugar, all conveniently stored in an easily pourable jar — eureka!! It’s absolutely as easy, and far more delcious than any industrial coffee additive.

Besides vanilla, one could make a coffee companion in a variety a flavors, such as:
- cardamom
- cinnamon
- nutmeg
- maple syrup (with this just mix the cream and syrup, and omit any sugar)
- cloves
… to name a few.

And on a related note, check out the latest post (and the comments) over at Ethicurean about Reddi-Whip, Cool-Whip, and plain old whipped cream… very amusing

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  1. katy says:

    April 3rd, 2008at 9:09 am(#)

    hahah! i saw that picture and thought to myself, “that seems a little out of place…” but now you have a substitute! i probably have a worse deep-dark-coffee-secret than you — i use two packets of equal in each cup. i shouldn’t even admit that….

  2. Jen says:

    April 3rd, 2008at 9:24 am(#)

    katy – the first step is admitting you have a problem :) just kidding…

  3. Noor says:

    April 3rd, 2008at 9:51 am(#)

    That is just to funny bc I am hooked to the same mate and flavor too. I love coffee but UGH I can not even drink it without my mate, lol. My husband brought home some other brand once and I made him take it back asap. So does your new one really taste the same? I am def up for that plus it’s nice to know what is going in it. THANKS…

  4. Jen says:

    April 3rd, 2008at 9:59 am(#)

    Noor – thanks for commenting!

    No, it does not taste the same, but it does taste good… a hint of vanilla, a little sweetness… I would use cream and put in an extra tablespoon of sugar if you like the sweetness and texture of ‘the Mate’… best case: you try it and like it, worst case: you go back to the mate :)

  5. dan says:

    April 5th, 2008at 9:21 pm(#)

    what a great idea! i’m on the opposite side of the spectrum — i love the *idea* of flavored creamer, but it’s always too sweet and too thin when i’m used to half&half. somehow i never thought of this way of having the flavor without the sugar. now i will get to experimenting :)

  6. White On Rice Couple says:

    April 6th, 2008at 10:30 am(#)

    Great idea on making homemade coffee “mate”!.
    My mom needs this recipe. She loves that store bought stuff.

  7. Patrick says:

    April 9th, 2008at 10:04 am(#)

    Oooooh I call it Juice, ;-P

    but seeing as lacto is a no no, I’m stuck.
    I have used almond milk flavored with some vanilla pods with suitable success; but I’m stuck on the convenience of the little pull tab cups that I can take to work easy.

  8. Ginger says:

    April 21st, 2008at 11:30 am(#)

    Its interesting to learn about all the Coffee Mate addicts out there. Our drug of choice is the Creme Brulee. Have tried several times to cold turkey it but always go back. I will try your recipe bc I definitely dont want the HFCS. It should be called Crack-Mate.

  9. Gin and Red Tea Cockatil with Mint | Modern Beet says:

    June 17th, 2008at 9:46 pm(#)

    [...] listed above): The Pros: – Ingredient list is entirely pronounceable (you all know how I feel about processed foods); here’s the ingredient list for the Tangerine White Tea: Brewed Tea (white and green [...]

  10. Kathy says:

    August 3rd, 2008at 2:29 pm(#)

    Too funny! A support group for all us ‘mate’ addicts! I left my CMate (Fat free, vanilla) due to pre-diabetic symptoms and went to half and half. Now I’m giving up dairy as best I can, due to inflammation problems, but, oh so missing my daily, morning coffee mate rendevous.
    I tried french vanilla Silk soy coffee creamer, but it takes a lot to measure up to my expectations, so cools off the coffee (and pricey). I love the viscosity (is that the right term?) of fat free coffee mate, but all that high fructose corn syrup – yowsers!!
    I may give the almond milk a try!

  11. Deborah in Italy says:

    September 8th, 2008at 2:12 am(#)

    Oh my, to see so many of you out there with my addiction is somewhat liberating. I also add 2 packets of splenda to mine. I’m off all other high fructose corn syrup and other packaged foods, but can’t beat this one. I’ll definitely try this new recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jim Kerrigan says:

    December 30th, 2008at 2:45 pm(#)

    Hi Jen:

    My wife and I have four adult daughters, three married and one still single. All are comfortable with flavored “Coffeemate”, I am not and enjoy or I should say enjoyed the original “Coffeemate” until about two months ago. At that time they changed the supplied product at our Publix Market here in Rockledge Florida to a new improved “Coffeemate”. I don’t like it. It taste like a sugared water with a cream color. I’ve phoned the Nestle Company twice in this regard in the hope they might suggest how to improve my cup of coffee to no avail.

    Can you recommend a substitution for the original “Original Coffeemate” with the original taste and texture.

    Thank you.


  13. Linda says:

    December 31st, 2008at 6:26 pm(#)

    I am addicted to Almaretto coffee creamer and they discontinued it! I will try your recipe, but I noticed in the store they have “nonfat” half and Half. Would that work?…or what can we use for less calories?…lactose free?
    Thanks – I love your blog site!

  14. Rebecca says:

    October 11th, 2009at 9:54 am(#)

    Hi Y’all, I’m a novice about these things that you all discuss here so, don’t admonish me too much! Anyway, I wondered if “sweetened condensed” milk would work to make the Coffee Mate substitute? Thoughts, please.

  15. Jen says:

    October 11th, 2009at 11:03 am(#)

    Hi Rebecca, I think that sweetened condensed milk would actually work quite well. I would leave out the sugar that the recipes calls for though. Also, make sure to get a brand that isn’t full of chemicals and additives, or I think you can even make your own — I have seen recipes on the internet but never tried it myself

  16. Melissa says:

    January 21st, 2010at 8:30 am(#)

    Okay, my husband said to me this morning “Because I love my coffee and creamer and you read the ingredients and make me think about it and almost gag (=) I am putting you in charge of finding out how to make it yourself.” So happy that I found this. One question, though, do you add the beans and the pod or just the bean??? Thanks so much!


  17. Jen says:

    January 21st, 2010at 10:08 am(#)

    Hi Melissa — thanks for commenting! I typically split open the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the cream, then drop the whole bean in as well. You can also experiment with other flavors — cinnamon, cardamom, almond extract, etc. etc. Enjoy!

  18. Alesha says:

    February 5th, 2010at 9:13 am(#)

    Coffeemate Anonymous meetings.. I love it! Someone make a blog or site! I’ll be your fan!

  19. Emily says:

    March 20th, 2010at 7:06 am(#)

    I know it’s not accessible to everyone but we get raw milk and I hear that even lactose intolerant can drink raw milk. My question is, do you cook it when you make other flavors too? What does heating it up do?

  20. Jen says:

    March 21st, 2010at 6:31 pm(#)

    Emily – do you have access to raw cream? If so, I would use that, and would heat it over low heat for maybe 5 minutes then add the vanilla beans or whatever else you want to infuse it with.

    I’ve tried infusing things cold, and it just doesn’t work as well. First of all, you have to leave it for _much_ longer (like a day or two), and still I don’t think the flavor permeates as well as when heated.

    That’s an interesting question as to what happens when you heat raw milk… I don’t know the answer, but I am guessing that if you don’t let it boil and just scald it (as if you were making yogurt), the good bacteria might survive… if you find out the answer, I’d love to know.

  21. Honey says:

    March 22nd, 2010at 5:01 am(#)

    I am a Hazelnut Coffeemate addict, one of my last processed food habits that I can’t seem to get rid of!! How can I make it the Hazelnut version in my kitchen?

  22. Jen says:

    March 22nd, 2010at 8:27 am(#)

    Honey – I was always a french vanilla girl, so don’t know the nuances of the hazelnut variety :) However, if I wanted to make hazelnut infused cream I would probably do the following:
    1) with a clean kitchen towel, rub the skins off of about a cup of hazelnuts (doesn’t need to be too precise)
    2) chop the hazelnuts, lightly toast in a skillet until fragrant
    3) add the chopped toasted nuts to warm cream and infuse for at least 15-20 minutes. I might add a scraped vanilla bean (or extract) as well, plus some sugar (1-2 T)
    4) strain, pressing on the hazelnuts to extract as much liquid as possible. Give it all a good shake and pour it into your coffee!

    Alternatively, you could also try adding to cream:
    1) hazelnut syrup (like for lattes). It would probably taste stronger and more sugary than chopped hazelnuts. If you search out a high quality syrup (typically italian) it’s usually made with sugar rather than HFCS and has fewer strange additives
    2) hazelnut extract, if you can find it

    Happy experimenting!

  23. Honey says:

    March 22nd, 2010at 10:28 am(#)

    Thank you for the suggestion, I will give it try. I also think I will join the support group to kick my addition to the Coffemate. Maybe there is something else in there that makes it so addictive. Ha Ha

  24. Emily says:

    March 28th, 2010at 5:22 am(#)

    I’m making creamer for the 3rd time as I type. My husband and I are really enjoying it! The first time I did vanilla extract, the second real vanilla and today I’m trying almond extract. Thanks for the recipe! The raw milk seems to work just fine too!

  25. embodyfitness » What’s in Your Coffee Creamer? says:

    August 31st, 2010at 7:50 am(#)

    [...] great article I found has a recipe for Homemade Coffee Mate. I think I’ll have to try that one as I am definitely not ready to drink black [...]

  26. lovemyjoshy says:

    September 13th, 2010at 10:04 am(#)

    Where do you buy a vanilla bean? I’ve never seen that.

  27. Jen says:

    September 13th, 2010at 10:09 am(#)

    lovemyjoshy – vanilla beans are typically sold with the spices in most grocery stores, typically with 1 per bottle, and cost anywhere from $4-$10 depending on where you shop. A more economical place to buy them is at natural foods stores that have a bulk spice section (some Whole Foods, other independent shops)– here they’re typically more like $3/bean. And of course you can order them on the internet if you plan to use them frequently and need more than 1-2 at a time

  28. Dan says:

    September 23rd, 2010at 6:07 am(#)

    If it possible to use the liguid vanilla (natural, not artifical) instead of the vanilla bean? If so, how much do you think I should use?

  29. Jen says:

    September 23rd, 2010at 9:40 am(#)

    Hi Dan – I think liquid vanilla should work fine. I would start with 1/2 t. for 1 pint of cream/half&half, taste it, then add up to 1/2 t. more if you want more vanilla taste. It’s been my experience that different brands of vanilla extract have wildly different strengths, so it’s best to start with a little and add more

  30. Terry says:

    October 31st, 2010at 6:10 am(#)

    I am so happy to find this, THANKS! I too am an addict to the french vanilla. I cannot drink processed milk, but have no problem with raw milk. My idea is to heat only part of the milk/cream, infuse the vanilla bean and add that cooled mixture to the raw milk, hopefully that will preserve most of the natural enzymes in the raw milk. I think I read somewhere that those enzymes start to die around 104 Fahrenheit. Of course, I think once it hits my hot coffee it may be a bit of a moot point?? Regardless, it has to be healthier than the super processed stuff I had been drinking.

  31. Siobhan says:

    May 20th, 2011at 5:33 pm(#)

    Thanks for posting this – it’s just what I was looking for!

    I’m also trying to break a CM addiction, and I’ll be trying this with fat-free half & half.


  32. Jennifer Halley says:

    May 30th, 2011at 2:00 pm(#)

    Aloha! Thanks for the great idea to make a coffee companion w/ all pronounceable ingredients! I recently received some test results that show I have high levels of lead and mercury in my system and after doing some research I learned that so many processed foods contain HFCS – high fructose corn syrup – which in turn contains levels of mercury (see Dr. Hyman’s Functional Medicine website and also I had a gut feeling that the Fat-Free French Vanilla CoffeeMate was not the best thing for me but I love it in my Kona coffee and as so many others commented, it’s just one pour and has the perfect amount of yumminess! I know I will be able to use the recipe you provided especially since it will help with my health issues and I can still have my 1/2 cup of coffee in the AM! Thanks again, Jennifer

  33. Mand says:

    July 5th, 2011at 3:46 am(#)

    Thank you! ‘Mate is my big vice (well, next to wine in a box) and I’ve tried getting off of it but it never sticks. I quit smoking more easily!

    Can’t wait to try this.

  34. Amy says:

    October 7th, 2011at 3:12 pm(#)

    I do the same thing trying to get off the “Mate” as well and always go back. I can’t wait to try this, I’m thinking this one is a keeper!! Thanks! :)

  35. Lydia says:

    October 29th, 2011at 3:13 pm(#)

    My sister turned me on to this lovely creamer and I only have one solution. Mix it half and half with your regular house milk. It makes the creamer last twice as long as normal.It doesn’t make the recipe but it will help stretch it a little longer.. lol The only other outlet would be to quit talking to my sister,cause the creamer is mine forever!!!!!!!

  36. Hope says:

    February 22nd, 2012at 5:14 am(#)

    I’ve always wondered myself how hard it actually is to make this oh so magical concoction I pour into my coffee on a daily basis and pay over $3 a bottle for. Coincidentally, the “cream” I put in my coffee isn’t cream and I’ve always wanted a more natural approach- always searching for finding ways to eliminate preservatives and colorings etc….we all know that is terrible for our bodies! I’m very glad for people like you who take the time and effor to post these recipes! I found my lipton onion soup mock recipe like this! (Tastes MUCH better than the original- and waay less salty.) THANKS!!

  37. Terra says:

    January 30th, 2013at 8:44 am(#)

    I was wondering if anyone has an alternative for the powdered version of the mate. We don’t have a fridge at work which makes it very difficult. I would also suggest for those looking to kick the sugar habit to try sweetening with Agave nector. I was at my local health food store and they even have flavored versions.

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