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FOOD & DRINK

What One Coffee Lover Discovered After Switching to Oat Milk for a Whole Week

A dedicated dairy drinker switched to oat for a week. How did it turn out?
By Nik Addams
October 18, 2021
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By Nik Addams
October 18, 2021
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in partnership with

I know what you're probably thinking.

At Concrete Playground, we're very transparent about the awesome work we do with brands.

So it might be reasonable to conclude that I'm going to fill the next 600 words or so with unadulterated praise about Milklab's new oat milk.

But you'd be wrong.

The first time I, a stubbornly exclusive drinker of full-fat dairy milk, tried oat milk, I made a face that made my walking buddy think I'd stepped in a big pile of dog shit.

My next thought: immediate regret. You see, I'd challenged myself to make the switch to oat milk. I discovered while reading up about it, of the various plant-based milks that are now widely available in cafes, oat is supposed to be the closest in taste and creaminess to dairy. So, I thought, why not give it a go? I decided to commit to the oat for a whole week and document my experiences.

But, after my first sip, I was immediately overcome with regret. A whole week on this was all of a sudden starting to look like it could be a long one.

Was I going to make it? Was I going to cave? Or was I — perhaps unthinkably — actually going to enjoy it? Here's what happened.

THE TASTE

My first sip of an oat milk coffee was definitely a bit of a shock. For the uninitiated (as I was just a couple of weeks ago), there's a sweet, nutty, almost malty taste — as well as an undeniably oat-y one — that I knew was going to take a bit of getting used to. I don't take any sugar in my coffee, either, so I realised from that first sip that some adjustment (mainly of my own expectations) was going to be required.

One almost immediate effect the sweetness did have was that it forced me to slow down, and to savour every sip. There was also a surprising richness to the milk that meant each sip just went that little bit further.

I also tried different types of oat milk coffee: hot and cold, frothy and flat. I was surprised by the full flavour and roundness in the latte — especially an oat cap (more on that below). Meanwhile, the iced oat lattes I had were also very, very drinkable. Not only did these not leave me feeling bloated like a dairy version would, but it seems that not heating the milk neutralised some of the immediate nuttiness and sweetness. And while I could tell it wasn't dairy, it tasted pretty close to it.

THE MOUTHFEEL

This was, to be honest, the part that I was probably the most nervous about. One of the main reasons that I have stubbornly insisted on full-fat dairy milk is because I've found the alternatives either too watery for my liking, or far too overpowering in taste. The warm internal hug that a perfectly made latte with full-fat dairy milk provides is hard to replicate with the alternatives.

One drink, though, changed my mind from the first sip: the oat cappuccino. While I am firmly of the belief that cappuccinos should remain in the 90s alongside sundried tomatoes and focaccia, the full velvety goodness of an oat cap was, to quote Jessica Simpson, irresistible. This is likely because oat milk stretches similarly to dairy, effectively resulting in a smaller margin of error on the part of the espresso puller and also creating that fuller mouthfeel.

Another thing it took drinking oat to realise — especially on days I drank both oat and dairy to compare a little more directly — is the film that dairy can leave around the mouth, which is honestly... not okay. There was no such residue with oat, hot or cold.

THE EFFECT

Remember that warm internal hug I mentioned earlier? As pretty much any drinker of dairy milk can vouch for, it's not uncommon for your stomach to start to play dubstep after, or even during, that milk-induced inside-out embrace. Mercifully, no such beats were created after an oat beverage.

Another thing I found interesting was that the post-caffeine crash I would usually experience — especially following my afternoon brew — did not come when I'd had my oat drink. This is surprising given that oat has less protein and more sugar than full-fat dairy, but what is undeniable is that an oatey boy seemed to keep me going for longer.

The same can be said for the fullness factor. While its bloat factor means that dairy usually fills me more quickly, the fullness seems to be both more subtle and more sustained with oat.

Rachel McDermott (Unsplash)

THE VERDICT

Full disclosure: I'm writing this while drinking a full-fat dairy latte. But I'm not enjoying it as much as what I might have done a couple of weeks ago.

I actually came to not only enjoy the taste of oat milk, but also crave it. Am I converted? Truth be told, I'll still be ordering dairy when the mood hits. But what I have discovered is that there is another option that does the job just as well — and, in some cases, even better.

For more information on Milklab's new oat range, head to the website.

Published on October 18, 2021 by Nik Addams

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