Barista Mylk from Rebel Kitchen combines the best elements of different dairy alternatives to create an organic plant-based milk for coffee that not only functions but tastes like dairy milk.
A coffee roaster will put careful thought, attention to detail, and years of experience into developing a blend, ensuring a good balance and that their desired flavours shine through. British dairy alternative brand Rebel Kitchen takes a similar approach with its coffee-oriented and plant-based Barista Mylk.
“What’s most unique about Rebel Kitchen when it comes to our dairy alternatives is that they’re a blend of several different ingredients,” say Victoria Harrison, Head of Marketing at Rebel Kitchen parent company Nurture Brands.
“There’s a real balancing process to combining all of the right ingredients so the end product will taste and function like dairy. It doesn’t taste like oat or almond; it tastes like milk.”
Founded in 2014, Rebel Kitchen has formed a strong global following in the health food market for its plant-based Original and Extra Creamy Mylks, including Australia. Quickly seeing demand in the specialty coffee market for plant-based products that replicate dairy milk, Rebel Kitchen took its time to ensure Barista Mylk could fulfil that need.
“Our Original and Extra Creamy Mylks are perfect for everyday use, but combining plant milks with coffee creates different needs. There are more intricacies in the profile and more acidity to balance, so we wanted to take that concept and make something specific for coffee,” Victoria says.
“One in two people will try their first plant-based alternative in a coffee on the go. If someone puts themselves out there and has a bad dairy alternative experience, it could put them off trying it again for a long time. It’s so important baristas and cafés get involved and promote better plant-based options.”
Rebel Kitchen Barista Mylk is a blend of organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, each contributing to a flavour and texture profile similar to dairy. Oat provides smoothness and sweetness, coconut cream contributes to the texture and ability to foam, and faba beans round that out with a protein and savouriness.
“Baristas we worked with told us how difficult some plant milks can be to work with. So we worked with professionals to ensure our Barista Mylk not only tasted, but functioned like dairy,” says Zahra Hadi, who led the product development for Barista Mylk.
“We’ve worked to make sure the Mylk takes on steam well, doesn’t drain too quickly, and doesn’t burn or split in coffee. The feedback so far has been incredible, with many baristas and users telling us how easy our Barista Mylk is to work with and how clean and consistent the results are.”
Zahra adds it was important the dairy alternative work for different styles and roasts of coffee. “From your instant coffee to French press to espresso, Barista Mylk has been rigorously tested by different baristas to be the perfect partner to coffee,” she says.
This took finding the right balance of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to mimic the profile of dairy, combined with a hint of nutritional yeast to contribute to a dairy flavour.
“Plant-based milks need to texture like dairy to be able to keep that steam and aeration in the jug. Once Barista Mylk is poured, you can create lovely clean latte art, and the [small amount of coconut cream] is really important to this,” Zahra says.
“It’s quite difficult to replicate the proteins found in dairy using dairy-free materials. That’s where the faba beans come in, which are balanced with carbohydrates from the oats.”
It’s important to Rebel Kitchen that only organic and minimally processed ingredients be used in its products, meaning no preservatives, thickeners, stabilisers, or refined sugar. Barista Mylk is certified by the Detox Project to be free from glyphosates. It’s also free of nuts.
This became a challenge while producing a dairy alternative that pairs well with coffee, with the recipe taking on 146 iterations before hitting the mark. One of the problems Zahra says they faced in the early stages was some recipes bringing out too much bitterness with some coffees.
This was overcome when 2007 World Barista Champion James Hoffman came on board to help Rebel Kitchen develop Barista Mylk.
“James taught us that a little bit of salt stops the threshold of bitterness being detected on your taste buds. It was a great and pivotal trick. In tastings with our team members and baristas after tweaking the recipe, we stopped receiving comments about overly bitter tastes,” Zahra says.
“James brought an understanding of the intricacies of the acidity of coffee, softening the Barista Mylk’s flavour profile, and how to bring the functionality forward. It was a great match because I can talk all day long about Mylk and he can talk all day long about coffee.”
After collaborating on the development of Barista Mylk, James highlighted the product on his popular YouTube channel in January 2021. The video, Creating A Better Dairy Alternative, was viewed more than 230,000 times within two months.
James said in an official release from Rebel Kitchen that, like many people, he’s been interested in plant-based alternatives for a while now.
“People don’t want anything less than a great cappuccino or flat white, and that’s been a big barrier for people switching away from dairy,” James said.
“There are a bunch of dairy alternatives out there, but they are monogamous affairs; it’s oat, and nothing but oat, or its almond, and nothing but almond.”
This is what appealed to him about Rebel Kitchen in particular. The brand was looking at a much broader spectrum of ingredients to create a “no compromise” plant-based milk.
“Dairy alternatives used to mean compromise, be it in taste or experience – or for the barista, in the texture of the drink or the latte art they pour,” James says. “Working with Rebel Kitchen, we’ve created a sustainable alternative which creates perfectly lasting latte art and isn’t a compromise.”
Rebel Kitchen’s sustainable credentials go beyond its ingredients. Like the rest of the Nurture Brands portfolio, Rebel Kitchen is B Corporation certified, carbon neutral, and commits one per cent of net revenue to good causes as a member of 1% For The Planet.
“Our Owner and Co-Founder Ben Arbib cares about the environment and is very sustainability led, so it has absolutely become intrinsic to how we operate – from sourcing organic ingredients to becoming a carbon neutral business,” Victoria says.
“Offsetting our carbon emissions is so important when we’re sourcing ingredients for this amazing recipe from all around the world, making Barista Mylk in the United Kingdom, then shipping it to countries like Australia.”
Rebel Kitchen Barista Mylk will launch in Australia in April 2021 through a number of local partners and distributors. Head of International, Nick Stratton, says Australia was one of Rebel Kitchen’s first and strongest export markets, and it’s primed to experience the benefits of Barista Mylk.
“We’ve been in Australia for about five years now and our focus on only the cleanest ingredient decks and whole, organic ingredients has helped us stand out to the progressively health and sustainability conscious consumers here,” Nick says.
“On the Barista Mylk side, Australia is one of the coffee capitals of the world with a huge specialty coffee culture, so it’s the natural next step for us to progress our Mylk range there.”
While coffee drinkers and baristas will similarly appreciate the clean ingredients list, Nick says Barista Mylk’s quality speaks for itself.
“Baristas and roasters spend weeks and months perfecting their coffee,” he says. “But the experience of even the best espresso will be compromised instantly if it’s paired with a sub-par plant-based milk, especially in something like a latte or flat white. If you’re roasting or brewing the best, you should pair it with the best.”
By replicating the flavour as well as function of dairy milk, Rebel Kitchen Barista Mylk opens up new markets for the plant-based milk category. It has proved incredibly popular in the UK, where its initial run sold out online within 90 minutes of launching.
“There’s a large number of consumers who are drinking plant-based milks, but there are even more that aren’t,” Nick says.
“None of the dairy alternatives on the market replicate the dairy taste and experience. If you can nail that, like we’ve done with Barista Mylk, you capture not only plant-based milk consumers, you create a product accessible to everyone from professional baristas to home coffee enthusiasts.”
Rebel Kitchen Barista Mylk is available nationally through its distribution partner Feel Good Foods.
For more information, visit www.rebel-kitchen.com/au
This article appears in the April 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.