In the spirit of finishing up this awful year on something good, here’s an ode to the humble hero working away in our new favourite coffee order: oat milk.
There is a little part of me that curls up in shame every time I order an oat milk flat white – or an “oat flattie”, if you will – due to the fact it’s so achingly emblematic of an Aucklander in 2020.
But the inner-city hive brain is definitely on to something, because an oat flattie is damn delicious.
So, in the spirit of finishing up this awful year on something good, here’s an ode to the humble hero working away in our new favourite coffee order: oat milk.
Oat milk is made by adding enzymes to raw oat kernels, so they liquify into milk and, having been invented in Sweden in the 90s, is a relatively new discovery.
* Should I be downing protein powder?
* Recipes: Chewy oat flour chocolate chunk cookies with oat milk
* A2 milk offers hope for lactose intolerant
All plant milks are better than dairy milk for the environment, and within the plant-based category, oat milk is one of the best; for example, it takes about one-sixth the amount of water and resources needed to produce when compared to almond milk.
Which is all very good.
My main concern, however, was more selfish: how would it taste in my coffee?
With a mild lactose intolerance, I’d tried and failed at the switch to soy, which was much too sweet, and shunned almond, which was way too watery.
But oat milk manages to emulate dairy’s thick creaminess, with an understated oatiness that doesn’t overwhelm. It leaves the espresso tasting exactly as it should (like coffee, rather than of the milk) and mimics the texture of dairy milk so well, sometimes I forget I’d even ordered oat.
It makes sense, then, that oat milk’s ascent overseas, particularly the popular brand Oatly, was marketed through baristas, acting as ambassadors until a cult-like buzz followed.
It’s also ideal to use in granola, cereal, smoothies, baking, or in your cuppa at home. We have many more options in the supermarket now, demonstrated below, but I have to add that my number one guy, Otago-based Otis Oat Milk, is not on the list only because they’re not stocked in mainstream supermarkets up here. But if you want to find it, you can.
Minor Figures Oat M*lk
$6 for 1L
You probably have spotted this next to the espresso machine at your local, and that’s what it’s made for: foamable and subtly sweet, without much oaty flavour. So not one to drink on its own, though if you skull some icy cold it’s incredibly refreshing.
Sanitarium So Good Oat Milk
$4.00 for 1L
A very solid, dependable number that has a strong oatmeal characteristic to it (well, duh) and, though it has no added sugar, is naturally sweeter than some other varieties. It’s also the most affordable option on this list.
Oatly Oat Milk Chocolate
$5.79 for 1L
Oatly’s regular milk is the obvious classic choice, but having a chocolate milk option is absolute baller. It smells a little malty, and tastes as if you shook up some cereal milk (the best) with chocolate milk; very much on the sweet side, which makes it a no-brainer for kids.
All Good Oat Milk Barista
$4.49 for 1L
This variety pours darker than other barista-favourite Minor Figures, with a slightly funky smell on the nose. However, this is my personal pick to add to any hot drink, because of the velvety smooth result.
Vitasoy Oat Milk
$4.19 for 1L
I actually quite like to drink this one straight or added to plain canvases like muesli. It has more overt oatiness and, texturally, feels more like “milk” when you drink it than the snobbier brands made for coffee.
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