Trends & Lifestyle
Watch this space: Plant based milk is on the rise in Australian homes. Studies show that more than 7.5 million Australians are choosing barista plant-based milk ahead of dairy, with another 1.5 million considering making the switch to plant-based milk varieties.
“Australia is among the most developed country in the world for health and wellness trends, with plant-based milk showing the greatest growth in recent years,” says Cheryl Bosworth, National Product Trainer at De’Longhi.
“An uptick in dairy intolerances, veganism, and health concerns are a few of the contributing factors to this growth,” she says. “But even more significantly– the emerging variety of barista plant-based milk has been a major driver for more consumers to frequent the plant-based milk aisle at their local grocery store.”
In the coffee space, new developments around plant-based milk recipes have allowed coffee makers to mimic the texture of dairy milk with the additional variety of unique taste, smell, and flavours that come from plant-based milk varieties.
“Discerning coffee lovers are discovering a new appreciation for the unique flavour profiles of plant-based milks, allowing them to create an equally indulgent and health-conscious coffee experience,” enthuses Cheryl.
Though plant-based milk products have been around in some form since the 1980’s, the traditional formulas did not have the ability to froth the creamy texture and layers used in café-style coffee beverages.
“Dairy milk contains fats, protein and lactose that allows for the textured, layered, consistency of frothed milk,” explains Cheryl. “But plant-based ingredients are soaked in water to release their properties, and historically has meant that they don’t function well in milk-based coffee recipes.”
However, the advent of barista-quality plant-based milk has given choice to people who love milk-based recipes but cannot have dairy milk in their coffee.
Hamish Thomson, Marketing Manager at Australian’s Own, explains how Australia’s Own took the lead on developing barista quality plant-based milks by introducing the first barista range of plant-based milk to Australian supermarkets in 2019.
“We could see the growing popularity of plant-based milk in café culture and felt there was a significant opportunity to develop a high-quality barista plant-based milk for the in-home coffee occasion,” says Hamish. “The pandemic has accelerated this trend with more and more people wanting café quality experiences at home.”
“It is truly incredible what the last few years have done for plant-based milks. The volume of sales has accelerated exponentially due to lockdowns and working from home, increasing the demand and importance of quality in home coffee occasions,” he continues.
“No other food and beverage product at the supermarket has seen this much growth – it’s unprecedented.”
Australia’s Own Barista plant-based milk products are comprised of 100% Australian made and sourced from local ingredients, including almonds, macadamias, oats, and hazelnuts.
In terms of the most popular flavours of plant-based milk, Hamish says almond milk has established its credibility as the most sought-after plant-based milk over the last decade.
However, oat milk is a close second after making record-breaking gains in the last few years.
“Oat milk has a natural creamy texture and pleasant aftertaste which gives it a preferrable taste profile,” explains Hamish. “Customers are always surprised by how well it pairs with any coffee occasion, and we have seen a massive adoption curve for oat milk during the pandemic. It only took our oat milk two years to reach the same level of popularity as our almond milk varieties.”
Looking ahead, Hamish recommends that customers keep hazelnut milk on their radar as the next big thing in plant-based milk trends.
“Hazelnut milk is absolutely delicious with coffee,” he says. “A flat white with hazelnut milk and a bit of chocolate makes a beautiful, indulgent, winter warmer.”
Curious coffee lovers who are looking to include plant-based milk into their coffee recipes should embrace the willingness to experiment and try new things, according to Cheryl.
“Finding the right plant-based milk really comes down to personal taste. Each variety of plant-based milk has its own unique flavour qualities. Personally, I enjoy the creamy flavour of oat milk which goes perfectly in cold coffee beverages,” she says.
“Our De’Longhi Latte Crema system is phenomenal for texturing plant-based milks because it includes texture control settings for the frothing process,” she notes. “But when brewing hot coffee, it’s necessary to use Barista quality oat milk to achieve the right texturing and thickening of the froth to the desired consistency.”
“Just like with different varieties of coffee, it’s important to experiment with different milks,” concludes Cheryl. “The discovery process can be a fun and exciting journey for those who enjoy honing their barista skills and trying new recipes.”
For the best results when brewing coffee with plant-based recipes, Cheryl offers some tips: