When it comes to alternative milks in 2020, we’re overloaded with choices. From classics like almond and soy to niche options like hemp, they each have their fans. When it comes to coffee, the overwhelming choice is oat milk. Oat milk has moved out of the shadows in recent years, its neutral taste and environmental credentials making it the go-to alt milk for cafes and consumers looking to move on from dairy.
As more people seek out vegan alternatives to dairy, the market for alt milks has boomed—sales of non-dairy milk rose 61% between 2012 and 2018. Oat milk, which was only invented in the 1990s, has seen retail sales in the United States rise from $4.4 million in 2017 to $29 million in 2019, with that rise predicted to increase exponentially alongside its popularity.
So why is oat milk in coffee so popular? Its most attractive quality, at least when it comes to coffee, is its neutral taste. Most alternative milks have a strong flavor—soy and almond are good examples—that can overwhelm the coffee it is being paired with. An oat milk latte, on the other hand, lets the coffee shine through, while retaining enough depth and creaminess to hold its own. Oat milk is also naturally sweet, which means less sugar needs to be added, making it healthier than many of its competitors.
While it contains less protein than dairy milk, oat milk boasts about 3 grams per cup, which is more than rice, coconut, or almond milk. It’s also naturally gluten free, and is good for people who suffer from nut allergies.
Oat milk is also a good choice for the planet. Most alternative milks, although less destructive than dairy, themselves have problematic carbon footprints. Either they use far too much water to grow—it takes 130 pints of water to produce one glass of almond milk—or else they’re grown abroad in monocultures on land that was previously rainforest. Oats, on the other hand, have a low carbon footprint and are already produced in the United States and Canada for animal feed, so there is plenty available for the predicted growth.
Oat milk in coffee is becoming one of the most popular combinations in the industry, and that trend sees no sign of stopping. It’s healthy, low-carbon, and vegan—and best of all, it’s delicious. What’s more, when combined with nitro, oat milk creates a wonderfully smooth, deliciously creamy and conscious-soothing beverage. Try some today!