What’s the best milk alternative for coffee?
There are many different reasons why you might switch to an alternative milk for your coffee. It could be for ethical or health reasons, or simply because you fancy a change in flavour. And you wouldn’t be alone in your choice either, as around 1 in 10 of the coffees we serve are non-dairy.
It’s fair to say milk alternatives have moved firmly into the mainstream. In the UK, plant milk sales have grown by 30% since 2015. More of us than ever are enjoying a non-dairy experience on our cereal, in cooking and baking or within our hot drinks.
There’s plenty to explore too. From oat, soya and hemp, to pea, cashew, hazelnut and macadamia, there’s barely a pulse, nut or plant that hasn’t been turned into milk form. In fact, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s now stocks around 70 different options.
But with so many milk alternatives out there, which do you choose?
In terms of the best milk alternative for coffee, it’s really down to you. You might prefer the slight sweetness of almond milk or the stronger flavour of soya milk. But, if you’re looking for a milk alternative that’s a close match to dairy and is easy to use, you may want to try oat milk. At The Barista, we use oat milk. And in our experience, it makes a better coffee than other varieties.
Why oat milk?
Oat milk has a smooth, silky structure when heated and makes a rich foam, allowing you to create great-looking latte art. The flavour of oat milk is slightly more neutral than almond milk, for example, meaning the coffee isn’t overpowered. In general, we find it’s a real crowd pleaser.
It’s also possible to create a really flavourful coffee with soya milk. Back in April, we teamed up with Bonsoy at the London Coffee Festival where the soya lattes went down a storm. But it’s worth noting that soya milk can split when you’re using only a small amount. If you’re adding soya milk to coffee, it’s best to use a large measure and heat it slowly before pouring it in.
— The Barista (@TheBaristaUK) April 3, 2019
Which brands of oat milk are great for coffee?
There are loads out there, so you can have fun sampling and finding your favourite. But, the brand we use is Minor Figures Oat Milk. We did a lot of research and taste-tested all the different brands back at the office. Minor Figures came out top for usability and taste.
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How do you make the perfect drink using oat milk?
Oat milk is really nice to work with. You just need to heat it up to a temperature slightly below that of cow’s milk. If you’re making an oat milk latte or flat white at home, heat it gently until it begins to foam. Be careful you don’t overheat it as this will make it difficult to pour smoothly and might spoil the flavour of your coffee.
We’ve found that oat milk works well with all the coffees on our menu, whether it’s a cappuccino or you’re just adding a splash to an americano. It goes down a treat in hot chocolate too.
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What’s next for milk alternatives?
The popularity of oat milk and other alternatives will only grow as more people become aware of it and give it a go. We’re already noticing more people asking for oat milk and we’ve had to change the amount we take to events to accommodate this.
We often find that as soon as one person asks for a milk alternative, others follow. Word spreads and people are surprised at how much they enjoy it! Around 10% of visitors ask for a dairy alternative at the events we serve. It’s always nice to cater for them.