Soy was first, followed by almond, and now oat.
Oat milk has only been available in New Zealand supermarkets for a few years, nestled among an array of dairy alternatives ranging from classics like soy and almond to newcomers like hemp and hazelnut.
However, cafe owners report that it is quickly becoming New Zealanders’ prefered option for plant-based flat whites.
Andi Gilgenrainer is the head barista at The Origin, a 100% vegan restaurant in Christchurch’s St Albans suburb. When The Origin opened in 2016, Gilgenrainer said, they offered dairy milk but switched to plant-based milk about three years ago.
“From 2020 to the start of 2021, the most popular ingredients were soy and coconut. Then oat milk made its official debut in New Zealand. Around 70% of our customers now drink oat milk.”
Many customers who were trying plant-based milks for the first time were afraid they would interfere with the natural flavour of the coffee, he explained.
“However, once they’ve tried it, we’ve had a number of customers in their fifties and sixties return and say they couldn’t tell.”
Gilgenrainer noted that they had one regular customer in his eighties who was now a devout oat milk convert after a lifetime of drinking cow’s milk.
He attributed it to the milk’s creamy texture and milder flavour than alternatives such as coconut or soy milk.