Coffee Nerds 101: Plant-based milks in the coffee world

As the human race has woken up to the crisis of climate change, our diets have begun to dramatically change. We’re in the middle of an exciting radical green revolution that is influencing all facets of how we create and consume food and drink. And the coffee world is no exception. 

The skyrocketing popularity in substituting dairy milk with plant-based milks (or plant-based drinks if we want to be accurate) is one of the major current game changers.


It’s not just the rise in veganism and people’s consumption behaviour becoming greener that is leading to oat, almond and soy milk being stocked behind more and more cafe’s counters.

The population of lactose intolerant people (also the awareness that there is such a condition) has risen dramatically in recent years, which has led to many dumping milk.


Meanwhile, plant-based milks are no longer just a milk alternative born out of necessity, but they’re now becoming a preference for many who simply like the taste. The high mineral and vitamin content they pack also converts those striving for a healthy lifestyle.


As orders for a cappuccino with oat milk increase by the day in cafes around the world, we thought we’d take a close look at the future trends to watch out for with plant-based milk in the coffee world. The following developments we foresee happening are inspired by our conversations with coffee experts and baristas who are on the front lines of this revolution.



Coffee will continue to contribute to the rise in popularity of plant-based milks

Vegans, health-obsessed and lactose-free people excluded, one of the first situations that many people encounter plant-based milks is in some hip cafe boasting that bare light bulb look.


Think about it – plant-based drinks are always located away from ordinary milk in a supermarket, and there are very few other scenarios other than in a cafe where you're confronted with somebody asking you – ‘regular milk or soy?’


The coffee world is feeding the popularisation of plant-based milks and this will no doubt continue into the near future.


More and more people will be converted to plant-based milks

Trends show that consumers are increasingly making sustainable and ecologically-friendly decisions.


Figures released by the global market research company, Euromonitor International, reveal that milk alternatives is the fastest growing category in the dairy products and alternatives industry, worth USD 10 billion globally, an increase of 16% in 2020-2021.


This narrative of numbers can only lead to one conclusion – that this trend will continue, and most likely, explode in the coming years.




Plant-based milk is getting better for baristas and the brands are getting cooler

Every barista would tell you that frothing soy milk used to be no fun at all when comparing it to the silky smooth textures you could create with cow milk.


However, most brands in the plant-based milks business have released some kind of ‘barista edition’ of their drinks over the last couple of years that are much better to work with for the pros behind the coffee machine.


Meanwhile, the quality will no doubt continue to improve as more players enter the market. This can only mean good things for us who love making latte art in our milk froth.


Also, as more competition enters the market as demand increases, more brands are turning up, and certain brands are making plant-based milks look cool via on point marketing and branding. This will no doubt lead to more people making the switch, simply because drinking plant-based milk looks cooler.


(Possibly) new kinds of plant-based milks will hit the market

So far, the most popular alternatives to milk are oat, almond and soy milk. However, due to the market expansion and the challenges faced in producing these plant-based milk varieties, loads of research is being thrown behind trying to discover the next big thing.


According to the Euromonitor study, in the next couple of years, the focus is likely to remain on exploring further ingredients such as peas, chickpeas, and fava beans, due to their high protein level.


We’ve also got our bets on a plant-based milk being developed that is less about the ingredient and more about trying to emulate the taste and texture of cow milk.


The extra charge for plant-based milk in your coffee will most likely be dropped.

As more of the coffee-loving community opt for plant-based milks in their coffee, doing so will become less of a novelty that you have to pay an extra 20 cents for.


Plus, as more plant-based milk brands enter the market, the prices should also drop, which in theory should mean that the extra charge should disappear.



New coffee creations may emerge that specifically compliment plant-based milks

We’re thinking that this may be the case more when it comes to summer coffee drinks.


New coffee creations pop up and trend every summer on social media nowadays and we predict that there will be a recipe show up in the coming years that is inspired by the flavours of plant-based milks.


Meanwhile, could it be possible that certain roasts will be produced that go well with a nutty soy milk? Well, who knows?! Nobody probably thought some Stanford professor would create a coffee brewing invention called Aeropress that gains a cult-like following. Anything is possible, right?


Coffees being made at home will also contain more and more plant-based milks


We recommend that people make the switch to an alternative to dairy milk if they don’t feels it compromises the taste of how they like their coffee.


This recommendation is based on the facts when looking at the environmental impact of cow milk production.


Also, we recommend you opt for the alternative milk that is produced, processed and packaged regionally.


Interested to learn more?

You and your team can enjoy trainings in coffee preparation, grinder setting, milk frothing and how to create coffee-based drinks.

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