In recent years, oat milk has gained a lot of popularity thanks to its creamy texture, dairy-free nature, and nutritional value. But not all oat milks are created equal, and some work better than others in coffee. Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply looking for a healthier alternative to cow’s milk, you deserve a great cup of coffee.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best oat milks for coffee on the market, discussing their taste, consistency, foamability, and overall performance. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly which oat milk to choose for your next caffeine fix.
- What Is Oat Milk?
- Types Of Oat Milk…
- Why do Baristas Prefer Oat Milk?
- Five Of The Best Oat Milk For Coffee: Our Reviews!
- How Oat Milk Became So Popular In Coffee Culture
- Is It Possible To Make Oat Milk At Home
- How To Preserve oat milk
What Is Oat Milk?
Oat milk is a plant-based beverage derived from whole oat grains. To create oat milk, these grains are soaked in water, blended, and then strained to produce a creamy, subtly sweet liquid. Known for its smooth texture and rich flavor, oat milk is considered a sustaining alternative to dairy and other plant-based milks.
Its nutritional profile, packed with fiber and low in fat, along with its minimal environmental impact, has also contributed to its increasing popularity. Particularly favored by those with dietary restrictions or a preference for vegan options, oat milk finds its place in various culinary applications, from baking and cooking to frothing for lattes in coffee shops around the globe.
Types Of Oat Milk…
There are several types of oat milk available on the market, each offering a unique profile to suit different consumer needs and preferences.
- Original Oat Milk: This is the standard version, made from oats and water. It is characterized by its smooth texture and mild, naturally sweet flavor. Often, it is fortified with vitamins and minerals for added nutritional value
- Barista Edition Oat Milk: Specifically designed for frothing and steaming in coffee, this type of oat milk has a thicker, creamier consistency. It froths well and creates a smooth microfoam, making it a favorite choice for baristas and coffee lovers
- Low-Fat Oat Milk: This version is a great option for those monitoring their caloric intake. It provides the same creamy texture and flavor as regular oat milk but with fewer calories
- Flavored Oat Milk: Available in a variety of flavors, like vanilla or chocolate, these options add an extra layer of taste to your beverages or recipes. Be mindful that flavored oat milk often contains added sugars
- Gluten-Free Oat Milk: For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, this oat milk variant ensures safe consumption. Always check the label for gluten-free certification
- Organic Oat Milk: Made from organically grown oats, this type of oat milk appeals to health-conscious consumers and those looking to reduce their exposure to pesticides and GMOs
When choosing the right oat milk for your coffee, consider these various types and select the one that best suits your dietary needs, taste preferences, and coffee requirements.
Why do Baristas Prefer Oat Milk?
Baristas often prefer oat milk over dairy milk for several reasons. Firstly, oat milk’s creamy consistency and light sweetness make it an ideal pairing with coffee, allowing it to enhance the beverage without overpowering its flavor. Its ability to froth and create a smooth, velvety microfoam is similar to that of dairy milk, making it an excellent choice for lattes, cappuccinos, and other specialty coffee drinks.
Secondly, oat milk is more inclusive; it caters to customers with dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, and those who follow a vegan or plant-based diet. In today’s diverse consumer market, this inclusivity is key to meeting customers’ needs and preferences.
Thirdly, the environmental impact of oat milk production is significantly lower than that of dairy milk. Oat milk requires less water, produces fewer greenhouse gases, and uses less land compared to dairy, aligning with the growing consumer demand for more sustainable food options.
Lastly, oat milk is versatile and can be used in various culinary applications, not just coffee. This versatility opens up opportunities for creativity and innovation in the cafe menu, providing a unique selling point for coffee shops.
Five Of The Best Oat Milk For Coffee: Our Reviews!
Oatly Barista Edition
Oatly Barista Edition is often considered the gold standard of oat milks for coffee. Made with quality oats, it froths beautifully and holds its shape. It creates a velvety microfoam that complements espresso shots, cappuccinos, and lattes alike. Its flavor is creamy, nutty, and slightly sweet, with none of the weird aftertaste that some alternative milks can leave. Plus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. The only downside is that it can be hard to find in some places, and it’s a bit pricier than other brands.
- Creamy and Nutty Flavor: Oatly Barista Edition boasts a unique creamy and nutty flavor that perfectly complements coffee and does not leave an aftertaste
- Excellent Frothing: This oat milk variant froths exceptionally well, creating a velvety microfoam ideal for espresso-based drinks
- Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO: Suitable for individuals with dietary restrictions, as it is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO
- Versatile: Its rich texture and subtle sweetness make it versatile enough for a variety of coffee drinks
- Dietary Inclusive: It caters to a wide audience, including those who are vegan, gluten-intolerant, or seeking to avoid GMOs
- Consistent Quality: Consistently delivers in terms of taste and texture, making it the preferred choice among baristas
- Availability: It can be hard to find in some regions, which may limit its accessibility for some consumers
- Price: It is more expensive than many other oat milk brands on the market, making it a less economical choice for some consumers
Minor Figures Oat Milk
Minor Figures Oat Milk is another popular choice among baristas and coffee enthusiasts. Its formula is specifically designed for coffee, with a balanced sweetness that enhances the flavor of espresso. It also creates a smooth, durable foam that’s perfect for latte art and adds a silky texture to the drink. Its consistency is not as thick as Oatly, but it still provides a decent body. Minor Figures Oat Milk is organic, gluten-free, and contains no added sugars. It’s also available in both chilled and ambient versions, making it easier to stock up.
Minor Figures Oat Milk is a notable contender in the world of non-dairy alternatives for coffee. Below are its key features, advantages, and disadvantages:
- Designed for Coffee: Minor Figures Oat Milk is specifically formulated to complement the flavors of coffee. Its balanced sweetness enhances the taste of espresso without masking its distinctive nuances
- Smooth Froth: This oat milk variant creates a smooth, durable foam—a key quality for creating latte art and achieving a silky mouthfeel in espresso-based drinks
- Organic and Gluten-Free: Made from organic oats, this product is gluten-free, catering to those with particular dietary needs or preferences
- Enhances Coffee Flavor: The balanced sweetness of Minor Figures Oat Milk augments the flavor of coffee, making it a popular choice among coffee enthusiasts
- Availability: It is available in both chilled and ambient versions, offering flexibility for storage and usage
- Dietary Friendly: Being organic, gluten-free, and devoid of added sugars, Minor Figures Oat M*lk suits a wide range of dietary requirements
- Consistency: While it does offer a decent body, its consistency is not as thick as some competitors, such as Oatly Barista Edition
- Price: Minor Figures Oat Milk is slightly pricier compared to other oat milk brands. This may be a deterrent for some consumers, particularly those on a budget
Pacific Foods Oat Milk Barista Series
Pacific Foods Oat Milk Barista Series is a great option if you’re looking for a more affordable oat milk that still performs well. It’s made with whole-grain oats and enriched with vitamins and minerals. Its texture is creamy and full-bodied, with a rich flavor that blends well with coffee. It foams decently, though not as well as Oatly or Minor Figures. However, it’s much more widely available, making it a convenient choice. It’s also free from lactose, soy, and nuts, and a good source of fiber.
- Plant-based: Pacific Foods Oat Milk Barista Series is a standout plant-based milk alternative for coffee lovers
- Ideal for coffee: This particular oat milk has been specially crafted to pair with coffee
- Full-bodied texture: It’s enriched with whole-grain oats, giving it a creamy and full-bodied texture that blends seamlessly with coffee
- Rich flavored: Its rich flavor doesn’t overshadow the taste of coffee, making it a great companion for various coffee drinks
- Diet-friendly: It’s lactose-free, soy-free, and nut-free, catering to a wide range of dietary needs. It’s also a good source of fiber, contributing to a healthier diet
- Affordable: Compared to some competing brands, Pacific Foods offers a more budget-friendly option without drastically compromising on quality
- Availability: This oat milk is more accessible, available in numerous stores and online outlets
- Dietary Inclusivity: Being lactose-free, soy-free, and nut-free makes it suitable for individuals with different dietary restrictions
- Nutritional Bonus: It’s a good source of fiber, which is a plus for health-conscious consumers
- Frothing: While it can froth, it doesn’t create as rich and persistent foam as some other brands like Oatly or Minor Figures
- Flavor: Some users might find the flavor too subtle, lacking the robustness that they might prefer in their coffee drinks
Califia Farms Barista Blend Oat Milk
Califia Farms Barista Blend Oat Milk is a newcomer in the specialty coffee world, but it’s already gaining fans thanks to its smooth and mild taste. It’s made with gluten-free, non-GMO oats, and has a low sugar content. It froths well and creates a frothy, creamy foam that adds texture to drinks. It’s more watery than other oat milks, so it may not be the best choice for lattes or macchiatos. However, it’s great for drip coffee or cold brew. It’s also shelf-stable and comes in an eco-friendly carton.
Califia Farms Barista Blend Oat Milk is a plant-based milk alternative specifically designed for use in coffee. Here are its key features:
- Taste: It has a smooth and mild taste, which allows it to blend well with both hot and cold coffee
- Composition: Made from gluten-free, non-GMO oats, it’s also low in sugar, making it a healthier option for those monitoring their sugar intake
- Frothability: It froths well, creating a creamy foam that adds texture to coffee drinks
- Health-conscious: Its low sugar content and non-GMO, gluten-free composition make it a healthy choice
- Affordable: Relative to other oat milk brands, Califia Farms offers more value for money
- Eco-friendly: It comes in a shelf-stable, eco-friendly carton
- Consistency: It’s more watery than other oat milks, which might make it less ideal for lattes or macchiatos
- Taste: While the taste is mild and blends well with coffee, some might find it lacks the richness and depth of flavor that other oat milk brands offer
Elmhurst Barista Edition Oat Milk
Elmhurst Barista Edition Oat Milk is a premium oat milk from a company that prides itself on using simple, clean ingredients. It’s made with just three ingredients: water, oats, and a dash of sea salt. No stabilizers, emulsifiers, or artificial flavors. Its consistency is thick and velvety, with a strong oat flavor that some people love and others don’t. It froths decently and adds a nice creaminess to coffee. It’s also free of dairy, soy, gluten, and nuts. The downside is that it’s quite pricey and not widely available in stores.
- Minimalist Ingredient List: Elmhurst Barista Edition Oat Milk is made with just three ingredients: water, oats, and a dash of sea salt. There are no stabilizers, emulsifiers, or artificial flavors, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a clean, simple alternative to dairy
- Thick Consistency: The milk’s texture is thick and velvety, providing a rich, creamy addition to your coffee drinks
- Distinct Oat Flavor: This oat milk has a strong oat flavor, offering a unique, robust taste that sets it apart from other plant-based milks
- Clean Ingredients: Its minimal ingredient list is a strong selling point for those seeking a more natural, unprocessed alternative to dairy
- Creamy Texture: Its thick, velvety consistency provides a rich, satisfying feel to coffee drinks
- Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free, and Nut-Free: It’s a great option for those with dietary restrictions or allergies
- Availability: It’s not widely available in stores, which may make it less convenient to purchase
- Price: It’s quite pricey compared to other oat milk brands
- Strong Oat Flavor: While some people enjoy the robust oat flavor, others may find it overpowering
How Oat Milk Became So Popular In Coffee Culture
Oat milk’s journey into coffee culture, though relatively recent, has been a transformative one. The trend started in earnest in 2016, when Oatly, a Swedish company known for its oat milk, began marketing its product to baristas. Recognizing the unique frothability and creamy texture of oat milk, which made it an ideal dairy substitute in specialty coffee drinks, Oatly’s marketing strategy was a success. By 2017, oat milk had started to gain traction in coffee shops across the United States and Europe.
In 2018, the demand for oat milk in coffee shops skyrocketed. Oatly’s shortage in the United States that year, often referred to as the “Great Oat Milk Shortage of 2018,” brought the beverage into the limelight and made it a sought-after commodity. Oatly, already a common sight in coffee shops in its home country of Sweden soon became a staple in café fridges across the world.
By 2020, oat milk had cemented its place in coffee culture. Popular coffee chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts added oat milk to their menus, signaling a shift in consumer preferences towards plant-based milk options. The rise of oat milk in coffee culture has not only redefined the way we enjoy our coffee but has also illustrated the impressive power of consumer demand in shaping product availability and accessibility.
Is It Possible To Make Oat Milk At Home
Absolutely, making oat milk at home is a simple and cost-effective process. Here are the steps:
- Ingredients: All you need is 1 cup of rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary) and 4 cups of water. You may also opt to add a bit of sweetener like honey or maple syrup, but this is entirely optional
- Blend: Add the oats and water to a blender, and blend for about 30 to 40 seconds, not too long, or it can make your oat milk slimy
- Strain: Pour the mixture over a large bowl or pitcher using a nut milk bag or a fine-mesh strainer
- Repeat: Rinse the blender and strainer, and then strain the mixture again
- Store: Store your homemade oat milk in a sealed container in the fridge. It will last for up to 5 days
Remember to shake well before using, as it can separate. Enjoy your homemade oat milk in coffees, cereals, or baking!
How To Preserve oat milk
Preserving homemade or commercial oat milk is essential to maintain its freshness and nutritional value. After preparing or opening your oat milk:
- Store it in a clean, air-tight container. Glass is the best option as it does not impart any flavor to the milk
- Refrigerate immediately. Oat milk should always be stored in the refrigerator, ideally at a temperature of 4°C (39°F) or lower
- Use within 4-5 days for homemade oat milk, and follow the use-by date on the carton for commercial oat milk. Once opened, commercial oat milk should ideally be consumed within 7-10 days
- Always smell and taste the oat milk before using it. If it has a sour smell or taste, it’s best to discard it
- Do not leave oat milk out of the refrigerator for a long period. If you’re taking it to work or on a trip, use an insulated container to keep it cool
Remember, homemade oat milk may separate when stored, so give it a good shake before using. These simple steps can help ensure your oat milk stays delicious and safe to consume.
Which oat milk tastes best in coffee?
Oatly Barista Edition is often considered the best-tasting oat milk for coffee due to its creamy, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor.
Is oat milk good for frothing?
Yes, certain brands like Oatly Barista Edition and Minor Figures Oat M*lk are known for their excellent frothing capabilities suitable for lattes and cappuccinos.
What is the most affordable oat milk for coffee?
Pacific Foods Oat Milk Barista Series is a more budget-friendly choice that still performs well in coffee.
Which oat milk is best for people with dietary restrictions?
All of the oat milks listed are vegan and gluten-free. Elmhurst Barista Edition Oat Milk is made with just three ingredients: water, oats, and a dash of salt, making it great for those avoiding additives.
Which oat milk is easiest to find in stores?
Pacific Foods Oat Milk Barista Series is widely available, making it a convenient choice for many coffee lovers.
Choosing the best oat milk for coffee is a matter of personal preference and taste. However, if you’re looking for a barista-quality oat milk that froths well, holds its shape, and adds creaminess to your coffee, Oatly Barista Edition and Minor Figures Oat M*lk are the top contenders.
If you’re on a budget, Pacific Foods Oat Milk Barista Series is a good option, while Califia Farms Barista Blend Oat Milk is a great choice for cold coffee drinks. If you want a simple, clean ingredient list, Elmhurst Barista Edition Oat Milk is worth a try.
Whatever your choice, remember that oat milk is a healthier and more ethical alternative to cow’s milk, and it can make your coffee experience more enjoyable.