Oat milk has recently gained in popularity, especially among coffee drinkers, despite its invention over 20 years ago.
Oat milk was first invented by Swedish scientist Rickard Oste, the founder of the popular oat milk brand Oatly. Ian Oriol, Mama Mocha’s barista, said Oatly rose in popularity because of a “perfect storm of good marketing, good product and the milk alternative market exploding.”
Oriol said Oatly uses guerilla marketing tactics, and was first released in America to trendy coffee shops to encourage its use in coffee and espresso. Oatly then began to release its product in grocery stores in limited quantities to maintain exclusivity.
“Oat milk is the best comparatively to whole milk for coffee because of the milk fats, and it feels like whole milk when you drink it,” he said. “Coconut milk is too fatty, so it separates, soy milk is plasticky and almond milk is watery and none of those bond well with espresso but oat milk does.”
He said it also has fewer calories, but usually the same nutritional content as whole milk. Oat milk was Mama Mocha’s most popular milk alternative in 2020, overtaking almond milk. It was difficult to keep oat milk in stock because it is so popular.
“I am the reason Mama Mocha’s serves oat milk, and I will drink it until they stop making it,” he said.
While oat milk has more calories than almond milk, Oriol said it is more sustainable. Almond milk requires a lot of water to produce and is creating water shortages in California and other places, he said.
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Oriol said oat milk uses very little land, causes a fraction of the emissions compared to dairy milk and uses minimal water. It is also easy to produce in mass quantities.
Juls Ayers, sophomore in microbiology, said she has tried oat milk in the past but prefers another alternative milk option.
“I like oat milk and I would drink it to avoid dairy, but I prefer the taste of almond milk,” Ayers said. “I first tried oat milk this summer but wouldn’t be willing to pay extra for oat milk in a latte.”
Madeleine Corbeau, owner of Coffee Cat, said while there are many benefits to oat milk, it’s higher in sodium than most other milks and milk alternatives, so it may not be the best option for everyone.
“Oat milk is great for people with allergies and dietary restrictions,” Corbeau said. “Oat milk is naturally gluten-free, safe for people with nut allergies and of course dairy-free.”
Corbeau said she thinks oat milk pairs well with lavender and chai and is great with espresso.
“Half of all orders are milk alternatives, and oat milk is increasing in popularity,” Corbeau said.
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