We’re far removed from the days when a milkman would drop clanging glass bottles of fresh cow’s milk on our doorsteps. For the past several years, dairy-free milks (almond, soy, hemp, coconut) have been edging out the alternative. But those upstarts may soon be replaced by the newest non-dairy beverage on the block: oat milk.
Not familiar? You soon will be. Oatly, the leading manufacturer of oat milk, is poised to make 2018 a breakout year. The company has spent its early marketing efforts on distributing the milk directly to baristas at coffee shops around the country, creating a grassroots support system for their retail debut. Because oat milk foams like regular dairy creamers (thanks to the blended canola oil), it developed an underground buzz, going from 10 locations to more than 1000 in less than a year. Those same supporters are likely to pick up cartons as they hit grocery store shelves in the coming months.
According to Oatly’s website, oat milk is made by milling oats with water to create a squishy texture. The resulting starch is broken down by added enzymes. That blend is then sifted to remove whole oat shells, leaving a creamy liquid that’s pasteurized and packaged.
Oatly plans a rollout at Wegmans stores, Shoprite, and other retail locations, including Amazon. After that, they may partner with the big coffee chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.
But how does it taste? Food & Wine reviewed a number of alterna-milks and declared Oatly to be “buttery,” with a flavor reminiscent of milk that’s been mingling with shredded wheat. Your palate can be the judge when Oatly goes on sale soon.