Since 2017, August 22 has been an important date in the calendar, because it marks World Plant Milk Day (WPMD).
This initiative was originally conceived by Robbie Lockie, a well known vegan advocate, campaigner, and Co-founder of the popular media publication Plant Based News - and run in collaboration with international food awareness organisation ProVeg.
Lockie saw the dairy industry celebrating World Milk Day, and felt it was time to have a day to highlight the incredible benefits of plant milk.
Plant-based eating and ‘veganism’ are oftentimes new concepts for people. For this reason, we thought it best to highlight the campaign's aims.
In brief, World Plant Milk Day is a day dedicated to celebrating plant-milks and encouraging people to ditch dairy and opt for plant-milks instead.
Plant-milks, such as soy, almond, oat and coconut, are widely available and are growing in popularity. In fact, it was recently reported that almost a quarter of Brits drink plant-milks, and in contrast, dairy milk sales have fallen by a third over the last 20 years.
Readers of this coffee blog will have read plenty of articles in our library which promote the idea of diversification in your coffee shop, sandwich bar or restaurant. If you’ve found a niche that works for you, it’s important to keep that differentiator alive; but at the same time, accommodating the needs and tastes of a wider variety of customers can only win you more business. With World Plant Milk Day, you have the chance to make a strong statement and satisfy coffee drinkers of every sort.
Millions of people around the world are saying goodbye to dairy, with veganism and plant-based diets on the rise in the UK. Instead, these people opt for healthy, delicious drinks made entirely from plants. There are a number of supposed reasons to do this, with each individual often aligning themselves with a specific one - such as saving the planet, improving your health and helping stop the killing of cows in the dairy industry.
The World Health Organisation recommends limiting your dairy intake, due to the associated risks of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, avoiding dairy is one of the most significant steps an individual can take in reducing their impact on the planet. Grazing dairy herds are responsible for dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that exceed their plant-based counterparts.
Which Alternative Milks to Offer
It’s important to consider why customers are choosing these milks when designing your menu. You should also understand how each one works with specialty coffee. Let’s take a look at the popular types of plant-based milks.
Cashew milk is usually a blended milk, meaning it's mixed with a number of other milks to reach the final product. These other milks may be hazelnut, walnut or almond, with a large variety of other nut-based milks that could potentially be used in these blends.
With its creamy texture and natural sweetness, cashew milk is growing in popularity within the plant-based milk community. It garners further praise for its more subtle nutty taste, which doesn't overpower the palate when compared to its other nut-based cousins.
Unfortunately, cashew milk under delivers when it's steamed, often curdling when heated past 60°C. This makes it acceptable for use in a domestic environment, but not a professional one. Due to the milk generally being blended, you’ll often also find that it separates in your coffee, even at lower temperatures. From a flavour standpoint, this wouldn’t affect anything. However, it would be enough to put some customers off of it.
Almond milk has become one of the most popular milks to use in coffees, when at home, as well as in professional cafes. You can find almond milk in several flavours, and many suppliers produce both sweetened and unsweetened versions of the drink.
Unfortunately, for the same reasons as cashew milk, almond milk can curdle. In order to reduce the risk of curdling, you should avoid pouring almond milk into hot coffee. It’s reaction with the acidity and heat of the coffee may vary between coffee roasts, grounds and brands, so be sure to experiment with several options.
In terms of taste, almond milk (as you would expect) has a nutty flavour. Similarly to coconut milk, due to its nutty flavour, almond milk has a tendency to overpower the flavour of your coffee. For this reason, be careful what coffee you decide to pair with this milk from a flavour point of view.
Soy is perhaps the most established dairy-free milk on this list, being used in both domestic and commercial environments for years now. Soy milk's attractive price point and availability make it a popular choice for use in coffee shops and cafes.
Due to its creamy texture and neutral taste, soy milk won't smother the flavour of your coffee - one of the reasons why soy milk remains so popular to this day.
Some soy milk curdles in coffee as a reaction to the acidity or hot temperature. In order to negate curdling, avoid pouring your soy milk into a hot coffee or think about warming your soy milk prior to pouring. However, take care of the temperature as soy milk will just as easily curdle as a reaction to heat as it will to coffee's acidity.
Oat milk is probably the most popular dairy-free alternative milk around, being used in cafes, restaurants and extensively in consumer homes. Due to its qualities, some oat milk companies have even developed speciality ‘barista’ oat milks, which are the perfect addition to a coffee. It’s made from a combination of oats, water, and occasionally oil. This results in a preferred, full-bodied dairy-free milk that many say rivals the real thing!
Oat milk has a creamy taste that is very similar to both pea milk and full-fat dairy milk in coffee. Similarly to pea milk, it has a smooth texture but doesn’t possess the same overpowering taste of other milks on our list, such as cashew milk and coconut milk. These qualities explain why it is growing in popularity so rapidly.
Offering a variety of dairy-free milk is important when accommodating lactose intolerant, vegan and plant-based customers. With the vegan market set to double before 2022, tapping into this market early may be what sets you apart from your competition. When picking which milk to offer, it's a good idea to stock the popular milk as a minimum: oat, coconut, soy and almond. From there, you can experiment with other milks such as pea, as well as ask for feedback from customers, in order to focus your offering.