Califia Farms has launched an Oat Barista Blend to meet consumers’ growing demand for healthy dairy alternatives that work well with coffee.
To Califia Farms, great coffee and high-quality plant-based milks go hand in hand.
The United States-based natural beverage company incorporates coffee into a variety of its products available in Australia. This includes a range of retail ready-to-drink cold brews, coffee specific almond milks, and as of August 2019, barista blend oat milk.
Chief Commercial Officer Peter Pappas says Califia Farms aims to be a prominent player in the global coffee scene.
“It was a natural progression for us to go from producing cold brew to plant-based milks that are made for coffee,” Peter says.
“Our founder, Greg Steltenpohl, first saw the potential of oat milk a long time ago. The benefit of oat milk in a café environment is that it has quite a neutral flavour and smooth texture.”
To create the oat milk, Califia Farms uses naturally occurring enzymes to break down the oat carbohydrates into as fine a particle as possible. This soluble fibre is mixed with water to create the oat milk. Sunflower oil is used to help achieve the desired creaminess, mouthfeel, and texture. No gums, genetically modified organisms, or sugars are added to it. Peter says a significant amount of research and development went into the recipe.
“We’re fortunate to have a fantastic team of food scientists at our disposal, and the process was very consumer-centred,” he says. “People responded well to oat, so we set out to create a product superior to anything else on the market in terms of taste, ingredients, and environmental impact. I’m really happy with the results.”
While developing the Oat Barista Blend, Califia Farms consulted with prominent baristas to create a product that would meet their requirements for a dairy alternative.
“We were working with baristas to develop our unsweetened Almond Barista Blend, and it was really them who raised the need for an oat-based product,” Peter says.
“We have ambassadors in the US whose expectations have been exceeded by our Oat Barista Blend and have formed similar relationships with baristas around the world who contributed to the product.”
An Australian who is already a big fan of Califia Farms’ Oat Barista Blend is Demelza Jones of Same Cup, a business focused on promoting and empowering women and minorities in the Australian specialty coffee industry.
Demelza tells BeanScene she finds the Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend as easy, if not easier, to use than dairy.
“If you can work with dairy, you can work with Califia Farms’ oat milk. It steams and pours just like traditional dairy. The latte art it produces is super crispy and really well defined,” Demelza says. “From a café owner perspective, it’s amazing because the staff don’t need additional training to use a new plant-based milk.
“For customers, they find it delicious and sometimes question whether it’s actually dairy or not. It’s not just people with lactose intolerance or a plant-based lifestyle that are drinking it either. I’ve encountered dairy drinkers that love it too.”
With 12 years of experience in the Australian coffee industry, Demelza says she’s seen an increasing demand from customers for dairy alternatives.
“I would say roughly one in five or six orders are for plant-based milks now. That shift has happened from soy to almond and now oat. I’m really happy because it’s such a great dairy alternative, good for your health and the environment, and uses less water to produce. It’s just a banging product,” Demelza says.
“Soy milk has always had a large following, and now that there are other options coming into the fold, people have more choice and are experimenting. The Australian coffee consumer is surprisingly open to change, trying things, and adapting their sacred coffee ritual.”
Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend first launched in the US in February 2019, and is now used in more than 1700 cafés in the country, predominately in California and New York. Califia Farms’ Peter says oat milk has surpassed soy milk as the US’s second most popular dairy alternative.
“For more progressive consumers, oat is even challenging almond milk’s popularity. With our Oat Barista Blend, the flavour of the coffee really comes through, and for that we’re very proud,” Peter says. “Its popularity has even translated well to international markets. It’s performing well in the United Kingdom and we’re excited by the initial response from Australia.”
Since stocking the Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend, Dean Fourtzis, owner of Street Talk Espresso in Armadale and Sons of Mischief in Highett, Victoria, says the Oat Barista Blend fit perfectly in his health-focused venues.
“We cater mainly to health-conscious customers, with a few items on the menu for those with a sweet tooth. At Street Talk, redesigning the menu along these lines a few years ago changed the business for the better,” Dean says.
“People care more about their health and are much more aware of what they’re eating. Plant-based food and drinks are an integral part of my business at both venues.”
He adds that plant-based milks in particular have seen a boom in popularity, especially over the past two years.
“We were on the hunt for an oat milk and Califia Farms was recommended to us. It proved to be a great suggestion and is so popular in the cafés that we have people ask if they can buy some and take it home,” Dean says.
Same Cup’s Demelza says with customer service core to the Australian coffee industry, it’s important cafés be able to cater to customers’ diverse tastes and requirements.
“As coffee professionals who want to charge more for coffee in the future, we should also be more focused on improving their experience,” Demelza says. “We need to make sure people will be happy to pay $5 or more for a coffee and enjoy it.”
This article appears in FULL in the October 2019 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.