The news is out, cappuccino & co don’t need dairy anymore to be a creamy delight. Milk alternatives, with popular varieties such as rice, soy, almond, and oat, are launching into the market, and customer curiosity is at an all-time high. The reasons for its increasing popularity range from alternative milk’s sustainability, its smaller environmental impact, health, dietary restrictions, and, of course, its delicious taste.
We hear a lot about dairy’s massive environmental impact but the average consumer is unaware of how high it really is. Feeding and caring for dairy cows require thousands of liters of water. The land use needed for dairy is nine (!) times higher than it is for any of the plant-based alternatives. Cows are also large emitters of methane, a greenhouse gas, that further contributes to global warming.
To put our daily food choices into perspective, one cup of coffee with traditional milk has about double the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee complemented by a milk alternative. Here’s the good news: There is no need to give up your favorite latte! A number of plant-based milk alternatives not only have a considerably smaller impact on the environment, they also taste great, are packed with nutrients and complement your coffee like a charm.
With all these options, it can be difficult to decide what type of milk alternative to opt for. But there is reason to argue that oat milk is the way to go. Oat milk uses less water, less power, and less land than dairy milk and most other milk alternatives. One liter of dairy milk requires the use of 1,020 liters of water or 14 loads of laundry. Comparatively, one liter of oat milk only uses 48 liters of water. Other alternatives, like almond milk, require six times more water than oat milk.
For decades, soy milk was often the only widely available milk alternative. It is still one of the most popular varieties and uses slightly less water than oat milk and a similar amount of land. However, much of the crop used for soy milk is farmed on clear-cut land in South America, resulting in the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. Oat is grown in more temperate climates and therefore does not contribute to rainforest loss.
Oat milk has added benefits for coffee lovers too. Since it has a naturally similar texture and creaminess to dairy milk, your flat white or cappuccino will be just as frothy if you steam oat milk for it. Some other varieties may be good for a cereal but if their water content is too high, as is often the case with nut milk, they won’t have a thick enough texture to develop the froth that will satisfy your cravings for creamy coffee.
Now that we have established that oat milk is the go-to milk alternative for coffee lovers, let me introduce you to an oathority in the plant-milk business. A favorite both behind the bar and at home is oat milk by Minor Figures. Founded in 2014 by a group of “coffee misfits”, Minor Figures is a coffee company and microbrewery from East London. They got their start making ready-to-drink coffee beverages like nitro cold brew.
The company strongly believes that everyone needs to make a contribution if we are going to fight climate change. Minor Figures is committed to getting the word out about the benefits of oat milk while supporting independent cafes and promoting sustainability in all aspects of life.
It’s important to mention that Minor Figures had no desire to produce an exact copy of dairy milk. But as a 100% plant-based coffee company that is not adding sugar to any of their products, they’ve done an excellent job at creating a delicious m*lk alternative that will make you forget about the rest. Their oat drink was developed from a desire for a dairy alternative that is the perfect companion for your cup of coffee. It was essential to be foamable and not split in hot drinks. Oat milk was a perfect choice. Baristas love steaming it, pouring it, and creating latte art with it.
Like lots of coffee-related companies around the world, Minor Figures has been impacted by COVID-19. Most of their business came from cafe orders. While they were able to quickly pivot towards online sales, many of the small cafes who have been their customers for years have not been able to make the same change. They rely on foot traffic to stay afloat.
Loyal to local, Minor Figures wanted to support independent cafes during this difficult time so they launched “Free Days”. Every Friday, they partner with cafes around the world to give every customer a free coffee when they order it with oat milk. Minor Figures pays for the ads to run and promote the event. Neighborhood coffee lovers get a free drink and an incentive to try a more sustainable cup of coffee, while cafes get an influx of happy customers.
A number of independent coffee roasters didn’t focus too much on operating an online presence prior to COVID-19. But when cafes shuttered due to lockdowns, roasters lost their main customers. Some have been left with little choice but to shut down production. With their popular online store, Minor Figures knew they could help. They started purchasing large batches of freshly roasted specialty coffee and promoting these in their online shop. This gives roasters the exposure and support they need to keep the roasting going. Plus, they donate a percentage of sales to a cafe of the customer’s choice.
When the coffee community sticks together, they can weather anything, even a pandemic!
As a beaniac, my main priority is to be able to enjoy the unique flavour of each coffee – even when adding milk or milk alternatives to it. Here’s where Minor Figures have cracked the code on keeping it oathentic. Their oat drink was designed by baristas to complement specialty coffee without overshadowing its true tasting notes. The oat milk does add some sweetness to the cup, which is why I love to pair it with chocolaty, nutty coffees.
Still haven’t tried oat milk? Consider putting something new in your coffee to see what all the fuss is about and let me know your verdict in the comments below!
Minor Figures: https://minorfigures.com/collections/oat-milk
Global Forest Atlas: https://bit.ly/2AnXos4