Most visitors to Fine Foods Australia in September expected to be dazzled by the latest developments in the food and beverage industries. Many knew they’d discover new flavours, creative recipes, and innovative equipment. What some visitors, baristas in particular, did not expect to find, however, was soy and almond milk that performed as well in coffee as traditional dairy milk.
Crafted at Alternative Dairy Co’s Berkeley Vale factory on the New South Wales Central Coast, the company’s almond and soy milks have been specially designed for coffee. The Australian owned company uses more than 90 per cent Australian ingredients to produce its dairy-free products.
Alternative Dairy Co Brand Manager Emma Seberry says its launch at Fine Foods was a success, and the milk’s quality caught many baristas by surprise.
“We received incredibly positive feedback from all who tried the product, stating it was unexpectedly creamy and smooth,” she says. “What many people who tried the milks appreciated was that unexpected creaminess and smoothness. Even people who weren’t traditionally dairy-free drinkers enjoyed the milks.
“Most regular soy and almond milks are designed for use on cereal or in a cold drink. They have flavours not present in dairy milk, and we find that when steamed for coffee, these flavours change and become far too dominant, overpowering the coffee.
“We felt there was an opportunity for an improved offer – a dairy-free milk that complemented the espresso.”
Alternative Dairy Co collaborated with café owners, dairy-free milk drinkers, and two-time Australian Coffee in Good Spirits Champion Mitch Faulkner to craft its soy and almond milk. Emma says involving people who would be using its products ensured that they could produce a product that would solve baristas’ common issues with many dairy-free milks.
“We worked closely with baristas in the initial development, and tested various formulas with more baristas, coffee houses, and café owners until we got it just right,” she says.
As well as addressing how Alternative Dairy Co’s soy and almond milks taste in coffee, baristas made it clear they wanted dairy-free milks they could use as efficiently as dairy milk.
“Most baristas will tell you that dairy-free milk is harder to texture than dairy milk,” Emma says. “When designing this product, our goal was to create a dairy-free milk that baristas can truly texture and stretch when heated.”
Emma says Alternative Dairy Co’s dairy-free milks are able to perform well in coffee due to a combination of its formula, ingredients, and the extra steps it takes to produce the products.
“Standard almond milks split very readily in coffee. We have made our Barista Almond Milk more resilient to splitting while allowing great texturing,” she says.
To start this process, Alternative Dairy Co takes the whole almonds and removes their skin to make sure the nuts do not contain any bitterness.
Alternative Dairy Co does not roast the almonds, which ensures the bolder flavour of roasted almonds doesn’t overpower the coffee. The almonds are ground into a smooth almond butter, which is then blended to produce the milk.
Alternative Dairy Co’s soy milk is crafted to give a creamy mouthfeel when mixed with coffee. This is made possible due to its unique blend of protein and fibre, whereas most soy milk only uses soy protein as a base. Emma says this avoids the chalkiness associated with some other soy milks.
It is these small difference, combined with minimal added flavours and preservatives, that Emma says makes Alternative Dairy Co’s almond and soy milks better suited to coffee.
When serving the dairy alternatives, Emma says baristas can treat the products as they would dairy milk.
“They perform best when they’re chilled, kept in a fridge before they’re used,” she says. “We’ve done all the hard work to make it as simple for the barista as possible.”
As well as producing dairy-free milks specifically for baristas, Alternative Dairy Co aims to create products that are beneficial for drinkers too.
“Alternative Dairy Co is an advocate for the benefits of wholesome plant foods. We believe in giving Australians healthier choices that are better for them and better for the planet,” Emma says.
Soy and almond milks contain less kilojoules and saturated fats than dairy milk. Alternative Dairy Co fortifies both its dairy-free milks with calcium and other minerals to ensure its drinkers receive the same benefits they would from dairy milk.
“There is an increased interest in plant based foods in Australia and globally,” Emma says.
“While health and nutrition are key drivers of this trend, it’s also being driven by people becoming more aware of the environmental and ethical issues of food production. That’s a big part of why we’re seeing more people choosing non-dairy milks like soy and almond.”
With the interest in dairy-free products increasing, Emma says cafés must ensure they are producing the best dairy-free coffees possible to remain successful in a very competitive market.
“Our stringent production process ensures you get a consistent quality product every time,” Emma says. “Both our soy and almond milks have been crafted to enhance the coffee experience. We really believe they will allow baristas to serve a dairy-free coffee that they are proud of.”