When it comes to dairy alternatives, Australian café customers can feel confident that when they ask for a dairy substitute at their local café, most of the time they will be presented with a plethora of options to satisfy their needs.
Vitasoy has been making dairy substitutes since 1940. First came soy milk, then almond, coconut, and rice milk, and now Vitasoy is excited to release its new Café for Baristas Oat Milk product and have customers adding the new dairy substitute to their shelves.
“Vitasoy has been successful in its range of soy, but then we realised there were no players in the oat field for the specialty coffee market and for our baristas to pair with high quality coffee. We knew it’s something we could create for our open-minded Australian market,” says Vitasoy Marketing Director Paul Paxton-White.
To design the new range, Vitasoy invited six industry representatives to conduct a blind trial and taste session. The initial response was that the oat milk behaves very similarly to dairy in taste and texture.
“The challenge with plant milks is that the flavour can impact and overpower the coffee, but our testing panel said our oat milk was definitely a complement to the coffee, letting the coffee itself be the hero,” Paul says.
Collectively, the panel noted that the oat milk was surprisingly easy to work with, holds form in the cup, and is easy to make latte art with.
“The panel were direct in saying that they preferred drinking their coffee black and that dairy milk is still obviously the best for milk texturing, but for a plant-alternative, our oat milk is neck-and-neck with dairy’s milk texturing characteristics, which we’re really impressed with,” Paul says.
According to Vitasoy research, regular dairy milk scores 8.6 out of 10 when it comes to frothing, 6.8 for aroma, and 7.6 for taste. Vitasoy’s Oat Milk scored 8.25 in frothing, seven in aroma, and 7.5 in taste.
According to Paul, it took 11 test trials to get the right formula. Vitasoy’s Oat Milk is made using Australian grown whole oats. The final product is naturally free from dairy, lactose, and soy, and contains no added sugar, artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives. It’s also a good source of calcium and low in saturated fat.
Paul says the results speak for themselves, but the only real way to become an oat milk convert is to try it for yourself. One such barista to get involved in the experience was Minna Hanson from at Pablo’s Vice in Surry Hills, Sydney, who used oat milk for the first time at a Vitasoy Oat Milk group tasting in October 2018.
“I didn’t know much about oat milk. We use soy and almond milk as plant-based alternatives at Pablo’s Vice. But in general when looking at plant-based milk options, I’m really looking for the taste most importantly, as well as whether it splits and holds temperature,” Minna says.
When Minna tried Vitasoy’s Oat Milk for the first time, she was surprised, and in a good way.
“The flavour profile of the Vitasoy Oat Milk was not what I was expecting,” Minna says. “It is most comparable to [soy milk], however with a touch more natural sweetness and a smoother, silkier mouthfeel. It has a roundness to it which often gets looked over in plant-based milk alternatives. Anyone who is looking to change from dairy milk, but finds soy too savoury and almond/macadamia/coconut too sweet, will enjoy oat milk.”
Minna says while some plant-based milks can be limiting in their ability to create the perfect foam and hold temperature, her first testing of Vitasoy’s Oat Milk saw “consistent expansion” and an “ideal resting temperature” between 55°C to 60°C.
“I found it behaved most similarly to dairy milk in respect to holding temperature and allowing more flexibility in frothing/expansion without affecting quality,” Minna says.
Pablo’s Vice didn’t previously use any type of oat milk, but Minna says she will happily find space for the new product on the café shelf.
“[Vitasoy’s Oat Milk] has a unique taste which isn’t as strong as soy but has more body than almond,” Minna says. “I think it will be good for those health conscious consumers who don’t like the taste of soy too.”
Minna enjoys being surrounded by fun, passionate, and creative people in the coffee industry who like experimenting with new technologies and techniques, and the release of Vitasoy’s Oat Milk is evidence of one such new technique.
“However, my favourite part about working as a barista is developing a relationship with locals and becoming a part of their daily lives and routines. There’s no better feeling than being able to start someone’s day right and make their day better,” Minna says.
Vitasoy is determined to see its new Oat Milk product introduced into the routines of Australian plant milk consumers.
According to Ibis World, industry revenue for soy and almond milk production is expected to increase at an annualised 4.1 per cent over the five years through 2018-19 to $165.8 million, including expected growth of 3.5 per cent in the current year. Ibis World attributes this growth to the increasing health consciousness consumer.
“Dairy alternatives are no longer a niche market. They’re big in Europe and American cafés, and here in Australia people seek out dairy alternatives,” says Vitasoy’s Paul. “The fact that customers can ask for such options and be provided with an option 90 per cent of the time is testament to our cafés who are listening to the needs of their customers. It’s this attitude that gives us our reputation for having some of the most forward-thinking and non-dairy friendly choices.”
Vitasoy’s Oak Milk launched in cafés in January 2019.
For more information, and to try the new range, visit www.soy.com.au