The average person in the UK drinks around two coffees a day and it’s reported that overall, we enjoy around 98 million cups of coffee collectively. There’s no doubt that we love a good cup of coffee to get us through the working day. And whilst we’re typically known for our nation’s love of tea, in August 2023, research shows that coffee has now overtaken tea as the UK’s preferred drink. Interestingly 63% of consumers say they regularly drink coffee against 59% saying they regularly reach for tea.
However, there’s another growing trend in UK coffee culture and that’s the rise in plant-based or alt-milks. One in three of us in the UK now drink plant-based milk making it a mainstream choice for millions of consumers. That means that if you run an office and you’re responsible for providing tea, coffee and refreshments, there’s a high probability that some of your team are opting for dairy-free milk.
If you’re not providing a dairy-free milk alternative at work, you may be missing a trick. People value having a choice and by providing a variety of milk types, it shows your team you care about their preferences and support their health and happiness in the workplace.
So what is plant-based milk?
Plant-based milk can be made from nuts, seeds, cereals or legumes and is usually made by soaking in water, grinding into a purée and then straining the fibre from the liquid. Far from being niche, the alternative milk market in the UK is now worth over £400m a year.
The movement is being driven by people who are increasingly opting for a vegan or dairy-free lifestyle, are lactose intolerant, or are concerned for environmental or animal welfare reasons. Some people are just opting for alt-milks because they love the taste, and more specifically, how it tastes in coffee.
If you’re someone who doesn’t drink dairy milk, you’ll have no doubt tried a range of plant-based milks in your tea or coffee. However, they range quite differently in taste, texture, appearance, consistency, price and so on. There are so many to choose from including soy, oat, rice, almond, coconut, cashew, quinoa, walnut, pea, hemp and more! Some of these options just don’t work well in coffee and one of the reasons is that they can curdle with the heat. This makes for an unappealing cup of coffee.
However, there is one type of alt-milk that is the star of the show in terms of barista-style coffee making. In fact, it is hands down the barista’s alt-milk of choice and it’s only growing in popularity both in the UK and world-wide.
The winner is… the humble oat. Yes, oat milk is not only the UK’s most favourite alt-milk, but baristas and coffee lovers everywhere love it too.
What’s oat milk and is oat milk good for you?
Oat milk is made using whole oats, water, and sometimes has additional ingredients like salt, sweeteners, and stabilisers to improve its taste and increase its shelf life. It has a creamy texture and neutral flavour and out of all plant-based milks it is probably most similar in taste to cow’s milk.
It’s naturally lactose-free and gluten-free, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance or gluten or lactose allergies. It can serve as a good source of carbohydrates, including dietary fibre. And although oat milk provides some protein, it generally contains less protein than cow’s milk. To match the nutritional content of cow’s milk, it’s sometimes fortified with vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D. Nutritionally, they have around the same amount of calories although oat milk has typically a little less. Overall if you’re wondering if oat milk is good for you, the simple answer is, yes!
Why do baristas love oat milk?
Flavour and froth
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when you’re adding any type of milk to your coffee is flavour. You want something that tastes great and gives you a smooth mouthfeel. One of the many advantages of oat milk in coffee is just that. Its natural sweetness and mild oatiness will complement the taste of coffee and enhance the overall flavour experience.
Froth, or foam, is also an essential part of many coffee drinks, especially when it comes to lattes and cappuccinos. Oat milk creates a rich, stable froth which is crucial for baristas and coffee lovers. It helps them confidently craft visually appealing and Instagram-worthy latte art.
Oat milk foam also gives coffee an extra creamy and smooth luxurious texture. Baristas love oat milk so much because it helps them to achieve consistency in terms of both flavour and froth which are critical to a great tasting cup of coffee.
Variety and easily available
There are lots of different types, brands, and flavours of oat milks available on the market giving baristas the freedom to experiment and finesse their coffee styles with their own personal choice of oat milk.
We love the ever-popular Minor Figures Barista range of delicious oat milk as it foams, steams and pours like whole milk does. It is balanced and light in taste which complements the complex flavours in coffee and it has no added sugar, emulsifiers, additives or other nasties!
The Minor Figures team have developed a classic oat milk alongside oat milk powder which can be used in bean to cup machines that only take granulated milk. In some cases, some more niche baristas may even make their own oat milk. How to make your own oat milk.
Although oat milk is easily available, it is more expensive than cow’s milk. In May 2022, the average price of one litre of oat milk in the UK was £1.79 whereas one litre of cow’s milk was just £1 per litre. Despite this, oat milk is changing the landscape of coffee shops one day at a time and it has become a firm staple in many establishments.
Oat milk’s popularity among baristas is closely tied to its sustainability as an environmentally friendly alternative to cow’s milk. It stands out due to its lower water and land usage in comparison to other plant-based milk sources. Its production also has a lower greenhouse gas emission profile compared to dairy milk production.
These factors collectively help to align with baristas’ eco-conscious customers who are making more ethical and sustainable decisions when it comes to food and drink. For this same reason, providing oat milk in the office can support your sustainability goals.
Get in touch
If you’re looking to upgrade your coffee culture and provide a quality barista-style coffee experience at work, get in touch with us.
PLUS we have coffee machines that have dual milk functionality meaning that you can offer your team a choice of milk. We also provide Minor Figures oat milk that works perfectly with our bean to cup machines to empower your team to be their own barista at the touch of a button. Simply contact our team to find out more.