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Dakota Leflaive

Account Management

It’s no secret that non-dairy milk products have grown in popularity over the last few years, from soya milk to the rise of many other nuts, oats and rice milks. But how did the question change from ‘Why non-dairy milk?’ to ‘which non-dairy milk?’? We have seen a huge change in perspectives towards alternative milk, from what was once something used by people with intolerances or for ethical reasons, to it now becoming another normal milk drink option. As a coffee roaster, we’ve seen that alternative milks are no longer a trend, they’re now a behaviour.

The demand for almond, oat, and rice milk, amongst many others, has grown so much that offering these alternatives can no longer be ignored. According to research undertaken by Mintel, a survey showed that more than 1 in 3 Brits are now drinking plant-based milk, with oat milk now overtaking almond milk as the most popular non-dairy milk. This demand has had a direct effect on coffee shops as drinks menus have developed from the standard soya milk and coconut to a huge range of non-dairy milks, including oat, rice and hemp milk, to name a few.

At Bridge Coffee Roasters, we noticed during the pandemic in 2020, a lot of people started taking an interest in what they were consuming, and used the free time to educate themselves on food alternatives, including non-dairy milks. Subsequently, people have started trying different non-dairy milks for many reasons, including the health and taste benefits. In comparison to cow’s milk, plant-based milks generally have fewer saturated fats and less sugar, making it a lower calorie option. However, there are lots of nutritional benefits in cow’s milk which aren’t always replicated in alternatives.

The closest alternative to cow’s milk is soya milk, as it’s the most nutritionally balanced of all the plant-based milks due to its high calcium, vitamin and mineral content. Soya milk has a mild and creamy texture, with very subtle flavours, making it a desirable option in coffee as it isn’t so overpowering. Almond milk and coconut are found to be naturally low in fat and therefore the lowest calorie non-dairy milk.

Coconut milk has a high source of protein, making it a great alternative to cow’s milk. Unsurprisingly, coconut milk and almond milk are both deliciously nutty, which can be used to any baristas advantage when experimenting with coffee flavours. Oat milk is great for having high carbohydrate content, and also has sources of vitamins D and B12, making it great to help decrease symptoms of tiredness.

Oat milk is great for many types of coffees as it thicker and naturally sweeter than other alternative milks. Moreover, it also has a creamy texture with subtle oat-y flavours, so it won’t override the natural flavours of any chosen coffee beans. As with cow’s milk, people still need to be aware of allergies when dealing with alternative milks. Nut and soy milk for example will not be suitable for people with allergies, therefore other alternatives such as oat milk and rice milk, should also be considered on any drinks menu.

You may be wondering whether you can steam non-dairy milk in the same way you can with cow’s milk? The simple answer is, yes! Some non-dairy milks have been designed specifically for baristas, including Alrpo’s Barista range. It’s a great alternative which can be steamed to perfection and used to create incredible latte art designs. Want to find out more? Watch this video on how we steam non-dairy milk.

With the vast range of plant-based milks now available, we highly recommend to all our clients to start making this more accessible on their menus. Not only will it make their coffee shops become more consumer-friendly, but it will also enhance the customer experience for those who enjoy a variety of non-dairy milks. Moreover, by offering a range of alternative milks, any café or coffee shop will stand out more from other businesses, as most offer a select few with an additional charge.

Want to find out more about how you can offer non-dairy milk in your business, café or coffee shop? Speak to one of our team who can talk you through our range of Alpro Barista Milks today.