Formulated to excel in frothability and texture, Chobani’s Oat Milk Barista Edition is now made with 100 per cent Australian oats.
Just as coffee consumers appreciate the transparency of where their coffee comes from, dairy alternative customers are also becoming curious about the origins of the product they consume.
Seeing the evolution in market demands, food manufacturer Chobani – best known for its Greek Yoghurt range – has expanded its range of dairy alternative products. In addition to a plain oat milk staple, Chobani’s Oat Milk Barista Edition is now made with 100 per cent Australian oats.
“We launched this product in Australia in 2019, and we’ve been working over the last year or so to have the whole manufacturing process localised,” says John Williams, Chobani’s Manager for New Product Development.
“Initially, we were importing the Canadian oat product from our United States counterparts, but we decided it was important for us to work towards having it grown and made locally. This would allow us to support Australian farms and manufacturing businesses, with the added benefits of lower shipping expenses and reduction of environmental impact.”
Previously outshone by its soy and almond counterparts, oat has been capturing recent attention for its silky characteristics and compatibility with professional or at-home steaming. With an increasing number of dairy alternative brands hitting supermarket shelves, John says cafés act as a crucial signpost for capturing customer attention.
“What we’ve found is that people really trust their baristas. If they go into a café and see Chobani Oat Milk being used, then they are more likely to pick it up at the shop to use at home. A coffee shop is like a billboard that signals the reliability and quality of the product to customers,” he says.
According to Rhyana Cremasco, Senior Product Technologist at Chobani, many prevalent concerns surrounding milk alternatives and their ability to stand up against heat are addressed in the design of Chobani’s product.
“Our unique oat blend gives the Barista Edition a signature taste with quite a mild profile,” she says. “We believe that this works best with coffee as it allows the flavour of different types of beans to shine through without being overpowered.”
By adding a higher fat and oat blend content, Rhyana says Chobani’s recipe ensures a creamy, full-bodied texture and hold.
She adds that sourcing oats from Australian farms has also helped the product development team to have full visibility on quality monitoring throughout the entire process.
Rhyana says the level of care put into each batch of oats creates a unique flavour and textural quality, helping to mitigate any issues of the oat milk coming out thin, watery or gritty.
“We add buffering salts to balance the pH of the product. This prevents the acidity of the coffee from curdling or separating the oat milk, which we recommend heating at a slightly lower temperature than dairy milk.”
A key part of Chobani’s research and development approach is liaising with baristas to ensure compatibility between the flavour profile of oat milk, and other features of coffee such as colour, smoothness, and froth.
“Feedback from baristas has been positive, with particular note on the hold capacity,” says John. “There is good consistency in how it marries with various type of coffee bean; it works with composite flavours rather than against them by being too sweet or nutty.
“On the other hand, it isn’t flavourless and bland – a perfect neutral milk will enhance the notes in the coffee varietal by being rich and rounded, but not so present that it overtakes.
Establishing an end-to-end production chain on-shore has been a key milestone in Chobani’s sustainability and social commitments within Australia. As a member of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and the RedCycle program, Chobani aims to keep plastic out of landfill and improve recycling practices with a Sustainable Packaging Roadmap.
“Chobani has a strong focus on using food as a force for good,” says John. “We make yoghurt, oat milk and other products – but we also aim to make a difference by volunteering our time, donating products, and leading the way to challenge the industry’s status quo when it comes to sustainability.”
John says Chohani’s mission has always been about making good food accessible to more people. “We do this by making nutritious products that taste good, and ensuring they are available through different channels and markets to a range of consumers. Where possible, we also source raw ingredients and packaging from local suppliers,” he says.
He further adds that consumers are becoming increasingly interested in where their food comes from, and how environmental factors such as land usage and water consumption factor into the production process. This knowledge played a key role when Chobani opted to go down the oat route for its flagship milk product.
“Non-dairy alternatives have enjoyed massive growth in the last few years, and oats are favoured for a lot of reasons, including low tillage cropping, the way their root systems improve soil quality, and compatibility with moisture-abundant growing conditions,” he says.
“At the end of the day, we are aiming to work with the environment – not against it – in terms of how much water is required to maintain crops, and that sustainability aspect is in line with our company’s overarching values.”
Chobani looks forward to showcasing its Oat Milk Barista Edition at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in September, with a particular focus on its versatility as a plant-based alternative that doesn’t compromise on performance.
“It will be a great opportunity for us to demonstrate first-hand how well our product stands up, and to tell the Chobani story through this now locally-made product,” Rhyana says.
For more information, visit www.chobanifoodservice.com.au/
This article appears in the August 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.