Over the past couple of years, alternative milks have grown in popularity and begun a revolution that has the dairy industry shaking in their boots.
Dairy substitutes have not only not been flying off grocery store shelves and into our homes, but have been slowly taken over cafes. Now people can choose anything from oat milk to rice milk.
Here in San Luis Obispo, people can walk into any grocery store or café and find themselves with a plethora of alternative milk choices. Drinking these milks has gone from being for those who were lactose intolerant, had an milk allergy, or are vegan or vegetarian, to being a frequently seen product in the fridge of many people – regardless of their dietary needs.
Most milk substitutes are plant based and are seen as a conscious way to better one’s diet.
On many social media platforms, there has been a war raging over which alternative milk is supreme. The battle began between almond milk and oat milk, which are the two most popular substitutes throughout our country.
Many grocery stores and cafes in SLO carry these basic milk alternatives, but others such as Kin Coffee, Scout Coffee and Starbucks also have soy and coconut.
On top of the popular alternatives, others that have appeared within San Luis Obispo’s community are macadamia and hemp milk. However, these milks are mainly found in grocery stores and many café’s do not use them due to their higher-price as well as scarcity.
In San Luis Obispo, community members, students and baristas of local coffee shops have weighed in on which milk alternative they think reigns superior.
Philosophy senior Bryce Myers has recently switched over to alternative milks, and even though he is surrounded by oat milk drinkers in his house, he prefers hemp milk.
Myers said he was curious about hemp as whole and when he saw the alternative milk at the store he said “f**k it.” It has been love at first sight ever since.
“I literally just started to drink hemp milk because I thought it was cool and kinda started to conform to the alternative milk hype,” said Myers.
However, Ashley Markel, a communications senior, prefers oat milk like most of the San Luis Obispo community. Markel describes how she enjoys the creamy thickness of drinking oat milk as well as the benefit of not having all the health downsides of traditional milk.
“Milks like almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk are just too watery for me. Before I was a vegan, I used to drink milk and I think I miss the texture of it, which is why oat milk is my favorite,” said Markel.
Danielle Lee, a senior Cal Poly business student, also prefers oatmilk’s consistency. It gives her the feeling that, even though she cannot enjoy traditional milk due to a lactose intolerance, she can still partake in many “milk based inclusive food and drinks.”
“I just hate when an alternative milk makes my coffee taste more watery. If I want to make my coffee or even some foods that have the creaminess of dairy I probably alway get [the brand] Oatly,” said Lee.
These personal preferences extend into the local coffee shops in the area too. Baristas within the community said the best, and most ordered alternative milk, is oat milk. This can be contributed to the fact that this substitute steams, froths and makes that cute little heart in your latte the best.
Kreuzberg Coffee Shop’s barista, James Valdez, has been in San Luis Obispo long enough to call himself a “SLOcal,” and has seen the popularity of alternative milks grow throughout the community.
As time passed, Valdez has found that oat is the best tasting and easiest to “dial-in” when steaming for coffee drink, while the other milk and just too watery or plainly subpar.
Valdez said while oat milk has been a community favorite, it has been a very recent change. He remembers not too long ago when soy and almond were competing for supremacy.
“Back in the day, people loved soy milk. There are a handful of people who try to order it in their coffee and it wasn’t bad for steaming into drinks. I personally think that when oat milk came into the barista game it all changed. It’s creamy, thick, and tastes damn good with coffee,” said Valdez.
Andre Gorham, a barista at Kraken Coffee Shop agrees with the sentiment.
“[It’s the] best milk for everything whether it’s for coffee or overnight oats. It [is] just the best,” said Gorham.
Throughout our community, there are many choices of alternative milks to choose from and more are being introduced to grocery stores and cafes constantly. However, the consensus of which milk alternative reigns supreme was almost unanimous: oat milk.
Due to its creaminess and flavor, oat milk is the most common in both homes and cafes throughout the city. The oat milk craze is a very recent and with all the different alternative milks in production who knows how long oat milk will maintain its first place standing.