Since the first oat drink became successful in 2017, milk alternatives have become an integral part of our everyday lives. From Michelin-starred restaurants to cafés, customers everywhere can choose between the different varieties. Even though they are colloquially referred to as milk, they are entirely plant-based and can therefore only be sold under the name ‘drinks’ or ‘beverages’.
How to make vegan foam
Arthur Fuchs also offers plant-based alternatives at his coffee roasting company based at a historic factory site in Düsseldorf-Lierenfeld. Thanks to his many years of experience with vegan drinks, he knows what to look out for and how to create the perfect foam: ‘Today, the barista editions of the plant-based alternatives can be frothed just as well as conventional cow’s milk. However, it’s important to keep a few things in mind: Always froth from cold to hot, as the plant-based drinks homogenise more slowly than cow’s milk. Therefore, always store the drinks in a cool place. Also, always shake well before frothing. Then let them rest for five to ten seconds before pouring, as they need more time to contract. This ensures that the foam is nice and firm.’
Oat milk – an all-rounder
Fuchs reveals that he prefers to add an oat drink to his own coffee in the mornings, especially when he is in a rush. According to him they are the perfect choice for any use ‘because they are most similar to cow’s milk and taste even more neutral. They are suitable for cooking or baking and can be used in many ways in cafés, for example for cakes or overnight oats’.
More than just a substitute
‘Plant-based drinks are more than a mere substitute for cow’s milk,’ says the coffee expert. He sees a lot of untapped potential in the products and recommends getting creative ‘by creating a new recipe for the respective substitute and thus creating a completely unique drink, sort of like a cocktail’. If a drink tastes only like coconut, this ingredient cannot be easily replaced. ‘Instead, how about a nut latte with almonds or a rooibos chai with coconut milk?’
No more extra charges?
Thanks to the high demand, the recipes of the products have improved, but there is also another positive effect: falling prices. Until recently, café operators had to pay premium prices, but the price ratio is now in line with cow’s milk. Germany’s largest coffee shop chain also stopped charging more for vegan alternatives at the beginning of this year. ‘Due to the increased cow’s milk prices as a result of the war and inflation, oat drinks were cheaper than the animal product for the first time in 2022,’ the METRO customer recalls.