Photo Credit: Earth's Own

What’s The Deal With Oat Milk? The Alternative Milk Taking Over The World

If you haven’t heard about oat milk, you likely have been stuck in quarantine a tad bit too long. In fact, even in the pandemic, oat milk sales have sky-rocketed. According to Refinery29, oat milk sales have gone up 425% in the last year! [1]

This means that for years, the other non-dairy milks, such as soy, almond, cashew, are having to share the limelight with this emerging milk star that every barista and cafe is now offering. 

Let’s back up for a second and mention why, in recent years, plant-based milk alternatives have become incredibly popular:

  • Environmental reasons
  • More knowledge around allergies or intolerances to traditional dairy
  • Promoting healthful benefits by eating more plant-based items vs. animal-based

Oat milk has been getting a lot of attention as a milk alternative and for good reasons, which we’ll explore below. 

However, the simple truth seems to be…it just tastes more neutral, and lends itself really well to anything you need milk for. There is a certain richness, smoothness and deliciousness to oat milk that has some people enjoying it more and using it in place of other milks.

Let’s explore oat milk, the benefits, how to make your own and some of the recent popular uses. 

Shall we?

What Is Oat Milk?

Oat milk is simply made from oats. Some commercial brands also add a few other ingredients for flavouring, however it is essentially just oats and water. Because it is made from oats, it tends to offer more protein and fibre compared to other milk alternatives. It also has more carbohydrates and is higher in calories. 

If that itself isn’t a win, you may want to consider the flavour as well. When you try it for the first time, you will notice there isn’t much of a difference than when just drinking regular cow’s milk (flavour-wise), however some will notice that oat milk has a richer or creamier taste. 

Why is that?

Oat milk tends to be on the thicker and sweeter side than most milk (dairy or non-dairy). This makes it a really great option for eating with cereals or granola, in a latte, or even with boba!

What Are The Benefits of Oat Milk?

Because oats are 100% whole grain, it’s no surprise that the milk from oats is filled with fibre and vitamins and minerals (such as iron, calcium and magnesium). These nutrients are important for various functions in the body. 

Here are some of the most touted benefits:

  • Because of the soluble fibre it contains, it has been linked to being heart-health and better for you if you are trying to manage cholesterol levels
  • It offers plant-based protein, so it has less impact on the environment while offering heart healthy benefits
  • The B vitamins it provides riboflavin (B2) and vitamin B12, are essential vitamins needed for energy and optimal health
  • Has bone health benefits due to calcium and vitamin D (which it is often fortified with)

Given it is actually a heart healthy, bone-density improving, vegan option…the health benefits of oat milk are making it a real contender as a milk choice or option. 

How Is Oat Milk Being Used?

In general, because oat milk can be used in place of any dairy, the uses aren’t really very different. Having said that we are seeing it take up a huge share in the milk alternative market. 

It’s a rich, yet healthy option, when added to cereals or granolas, used in smoothies, and so forth. Something pretty interesting about oat milk is that some brands are creating on such a huge scale that they are being specially designed for baristas (i.e. Earth’s Own and Pacific brands). These oat milks are thick and really easy to steam and make into a frothy beverage.

One of the first local products to hit barista shelfs came from NutMeg Mylk, here in Vancouver, and it’s still popular in local coffee shops. Brands are getting creative too; Califia Farms has even combined theirs with cold brew for coffee on the go. Whatever the brand, it seems as though oat milk products are flying off the shelf! 

We are now seeing them used to make lattes. One very popular choice is using oat milk to make a frothy cup of matcha latte. The oats and matcha make a delicious combination, adding a nutty richness, with an abundance of froth. 

2020 is the year that oat milk has really taken off. So much so that even coffee giants like Starbucks jumped on the bandwagon and announced they are testing oat milk, earlier this year. They saw a surge in requests for oat milk! [2]

Starbucks Oat Beverage 1440x700 1
Photo credit: Starbucks Canada

Starbucks and coffee shops aside, there are also popular bubble tea spots now offering oat milk as an alternative. Due to the sweetness, it’s a great addition to boba. BaronessParagon Tea Room and, The Bubble Tea Shop are popular bubble tea cafes that are starting the trend towards offering oat milk as either an option or the default base.

The potency of tea’spresso often gets overpowered by dairy milk, especially when the fat content is too high. So to highlight the tea flavour, we started experimenting with mylk alternative with much lower fat content, in our tea mistos back in 2018 during our product development before store opening. Oat milk was a clear winner because of its creamy texture and ability to complement the tasting notes and aroma of the tea we have on our menu.

Michelle Cheung, Cofounder of Paragon Tea Room

Baroness is a big fan of oat milk. Oat Milk’s taste and texture complements our drinks really well and we take pride in debut it to Vancouver’s bubble tea scene. Our customers love it and we love it too!

Baroness Canada Co-owners

How To Make Oat Milk?

If you don’t want to buy oat milk commercially, or cannot find it (yes, in the pandemic some shelves are still left bare), it is incredibly easy to make at home. 

Oat milk is simply rolled oats and water blended together then strained to leave the pulp behind.

Here is your oat milk DIY recipe:

  • add 1 cup rolled oats + 4 cups water 
  • In a high-speed blender, blend on high for 45 seconds
  • strain the blended liquid through a clean t-shirt, or cheese cloth (something fine). 

You can take the strained liquid and store in a glass jar. 

Add this creamy goodness to your coffee, matcha, cereal, or drink on its own and see what all the fuss is about!

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Christina Chandra

Christina is a local freelance writer/blogger, passionate about exploring cafes and eateries in Vancouver. Her passion for food stems from her educational background in Food, Health and Nutrition from UBC. Christina is also a mom to two toddlers, who you may often see her with grabbing "coffee" on Main Street.