By Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist
Chances are, if your study spot of choice is a coffee shop or you follow the latest coffee trends, you’ve heard of oat milk. Oat milk is the latest in a wide variety of plant-based milk alternatives available to consumers. Over the last few years, plant-based milks have gained popularity, and now, even some people who are not lactose-intolerant or vegan prefer plant-based milk to dairy milk.
Oat milk is a vegan and dairy-free milk substitute that is made from oats. Since it is fairly new in the non-dairy milk industry, it is difficult to find in stores, especially in Waco. If you want to replace your everyday milk with oat milk, you are better off buying it online, or making your own since it is actually very simple to make. You can make it yourself at home by blending one part oats with two parts water and straining the mixture through a cheesecloth.
Oat milk was actually invented about 25 years ago by Rickard Oste in Sweden. Oste is the founder of Oatly, the first and most popular oat milk company. Oatly has been popular in Sweden and other international countries for decades but only recently came to the United States. According to the New York Times, Oatly oat milk made its U.S. debut in a select number of coffee shops and “has spread from 10 locations in New York to more than 1,000 locations nationwide.” Oat milk gained immense popularity with baristas —and fast. Within a year, baristas across the country began using oat milk as their preferred dairy alternative. Many baristas favor oat milk to other non-dairy milks because of its thicker consistency that is similar to whole milk. In fact, Pinewood Coffee Bar and Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits have caught on to the oat milk trend and offer it as a substitute for dairy milk. As of last week, the latest Waco coffee shop to begin offering oat milk is the Baylor student staple: Common Grounds.
With several plant-based milk options to choose from, including almond, coconut, rice, hemp, pea etc., oat milk is competing with a variety of tastes and textures. Oat milk has a highly soluble fiber content and is inherently gluten free since oats do not contain gluten. It is naturally sweet and creamy and is highly comparable to dairy milk in both consistency and taste. Some other plant-based milks, like coconut and rice milk, are more watery and do not have a milk-like consistency. Pea milk and some nut milks like macadamia milk have a strong taste that some consumers may not enjoy. While oat milk does not have the same amount of protein that dairy milk does, it does have a higher protein content than almond and other nut beverages.
From an environmental standpoint, oat milk is more sustainable than nut-made beverages. According to the statistics on the Water Footprint website, almonds require approximately 6 times the amount of water than oats require to grow. In addition, there is less water waste in the process of creating oat milk since the oats do not need to be soaked before like almonds do.
With better the frothing capabilities, high fiber content and great taste of oat milk, soy milk and almond milk will become a thing of the past. Next time you order a latte or cappuccino, think about asking for oat milk instead of almond or dairy milk.