2020 is going to be the year that oat milk really takes off.
I guess we should prepare ourselves with some basic information, then. How does oat milk compare to the alternatives?
Now that’s quite a broad question. For me, this is something that needs to be answered on three fronts.
Firstly, what does oat milk taste like with my cortado? Secondly, what are the health benefits, and thirdly, what is the impact on our fragile planet?
We serve Importers Coffee at Cafe du Cap and I usually have my cortado with almond milk. If we’re low on almond milk, then I’ll do soy milk. Actual cow milk is my last option.
The main reason I do this is my health – I just don’t believe too much dairy is good for you. In addition, almonds and soybeans don’t fart, so, you know, the planet.
Not that we should discount cow’s milk altogether, which has more calcium than natural soy. Calcium, as we know, helps to build bones and prevents osteoporosis. But look, I’m not relying on my morning coffees to dictate my entire calcium intake.
Tastewise, I can’t really taste the difference between all the different kinds of milk and I doubt I could pick one against the other in a blind tasting – especially when drinking Importers Coffee.
Although I may agree with those who say that almond milk and oat milk do have a slightly sweeter vibe gong on.
In terms of health benefits, let’s go through them:
According to Medical News Today, the benefits of almond milk include:
According to Healthline:
Interesting. But what about the planet?
Medium also provided a very insightful piece on the environmental impact of almond versus soy versus oat milk.
Greenhouse gas emissions: a 200ml glass of soy milk is responsible for around 0,195 kg of CO2e. Research by scientist David Pimentel concluded that 1 calorie of milk protein requires 14 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce. In comparison, it takes just 0,26 calories of fossil fuel to make 1 calorie of milk from organic soybeans.
Water: a litre of soy milk uses around 297 litres of water to produce. This may sound like a huge amount of water, and it is, but it’s less than a third of the water needed to produce cow’s milk.
Land use is the potential downfall of soy milk, because it uses a lot of our land space currently. Significantly, parts of the Amazon rainforest are being deforested specifically to produce soy plantations. This is definitely concerning, but it’s important to remember that 85% of soybeans are currently used to feed animals and produce oil, rather than to make soy milk.
Greenhouse gas emissions: a 200ml glass of almond milk is responsible for around 0,14kg of CO2e, making it a less impactful option than cow’s milk or soy milk in terms of emissions.
However, the issue with almond milk is the land and water use needed to produce it. Roughly 80% of almonds are currently grown in California, USA (although this may start to change, with the UK increasing growth recently). Farmers in the area have seen huge increases in demand in recent years, with around 44% more land being used for almond trees now than 5 years ago.
The major issue with almonds is that they’re an incredible thirsty crop: one almond needs on average 14,5 litres of water to produce.
This amount of water consumption would be an issue anywhere, but in a state like California which is dry, arid, and very prone to droughts, it becomes magnified.
Greenhouse gas emissions: a 200ml glass of oat milk is responsible for around 0,18kg of CO2e. That’s slightly more than almond milk, but less than soy or cow’s milk.
Water: a litre of oat milk needs about 48 litres of water produce. In terms of water, then, oat milk is much lower impact than other milks.
Land: oats use 80% less land to grow than dairy milk requires.
So there you have it. From where I’m sitting, oat milk has every right to dominate hipster and coffee culture for 2020. The benefits aren’t numerous, but the great taste and low impact on the environment is clearly the winning formula here.
As I said earlier, who relies solely on their milk choice for the health benefits? You’d hope your entire diet without milk gives you all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
If you feel terribly strongly about it, be sure to take a look at camel milk – it might just have the combination you’re looking for.
Whatever milk you’re drinking, just make sure it’s going into decent coffee.
Oh, and if you swing past Cafe du Cap, you might just find me there sipping on a cortado, made with the finest Importers Coffee beans, solving the world’s problems.
If we must, we can chat milk.
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