Oat milk. In the world of dairy replacements, oat reigns supreme. Almond, once the doyenne of alternative milk has been dislodged: it uses up too much water in manufacturing. Coconut milk? It overpowers the taste of your coffee (although I’m sure it tastes better mixed into smoothies). Rice milk? When I want something that tastes like a horchata, I order a horchata. Soy? I never knew her. All the other alternatives just don’t seem to mesh well (in terms of taste and texture) with coffee. Enter oat milk. Once I had an oat milk latte, my life changed. Nothing else has ever hit the spot. It’s all I ever order when in New York.
Not all oat milk is created equal. In some brands, others have described a weird slimy film left behind, like a greasy aftertaste. The best, in my opinion, is the Oatly Barista Edition. The best thing about oat milk, when done right, is that it tastes like the remaining dregs of your oatmeal. This sounds gross, but it is delicious, especially in “milk” form (think of cereal milk), and especially when engineered specifically for your coffee needs. That is why barista blends are the best version: you get the rich, creamy delight of “milk” with your coffee.
Recently, Oatly hit the local market, so I’ve been drinking it at home. Here is how I make my oat milk iced latte: I’ve experimented a lot. I used to make a cup of black coffee, refrigerate it for half a day, add ice and then a splash of oat milk, and then a bit of honey. I then switched to trying out cold brews from various brands available on Instagram: all great. And then I discovered the best version, which is what I’ve stuck with for the past few months: 3 shots of espresso, more than half a small glass of Oatly Barista, a few squirts of honey, shaken together like I’m making a cocktail, and then poured over four ice cubes on a glass usually used for whiskey.
My go-to place to order Oatly Barista from is Hygge Bev. It was a monthly routine for me to order six of the 1L boxes on the go (₱1,995 for six works out as ₱332.5 for 1, which is ₱17 cheaper than the usual ₱350 price). Recently though, there has been a shortage, much like the United States’ bucatini shortage (although unlike the US, I don’t think any oat milk competitor is behind it). I am not nearly as talented at writing as Rachel Handler is so an investigation into this situation is beyond my powers. But I do love trying things and writing about my adventures in trying them. Hence, the birth of this article.
I have also enlisted the help of my Dad as a control to my observations, to make this article more scientifically plausible, and also, it’s always entertaining to hear what he has to say. Any attempt to substitute his favorite food and drinks for healthy versions usually has him running for the hills (I saw a look of consternation on his face when he opened the fridge and saw a row of oat milk proudly standing together like a row of shooting ducks). This should make things more amusing. I give him a tablespoon of the milk alone, followed by a tablespoon of how I drink it with the coffee.
Koita Oat Beverage from The Black Bean
About the Brand: Koita is a premium Italian brand. Their marketing says, “Koita milk comes from the land of everything “buonissimo”! Our Italian Oat Milk is a great dairy substitute and perfect for those looking to transition to a better, cleaner tasting milk.” I don’t particularly associate Italian food with anything healthy, because the richer, the better but for this reason, I was eager to try anyway.
Ordering: I just had to select what I wanted, and then pay by online transfer, and then send proof on @theblackbeanph that I had made the order and paid for it. It also arrived much quicker than I expected, probably because the usual lack of traffic outdoors makes for speedier delivery times. A 1L carton of Koita is ₱230. COD is available.
Taste: It was after a few sips of this mixed into my usual three shots of espresso that I realized why a barista blend makes the difference. It was very liquidy, and therefore kind of “flat” tasting, and the coffee tended to overpower the “milk” taste. Koita Oat Milk beverage probably does better in a smoothie, or if you want to engage in oat-milk cannibalism (hello, Ar*ie Ha**er), do what my brother does and mix it with your oatmeal. Double the oat fun!
Conclusion: I wouldn’t order Koita Oat Beverage if I was going to mix it with coffee, but it makes a great milk substitute for everything else. I would, however, still order it in other drinks professionally made by The Black Bean (I am fond of the Black Sesame Iced Latte), because their coffee powers make it an enjoyable experience to drink.
My dad, sitting at his messy desk: “It tastes…like milk,” he said. I gave him the other tablespoon with the coffee. “I like this better because of the coffee. We have good coffee,” he answered.
Pacific Foods Organic Oats Original Plant-Based Beverage, sold at Healthy Options
About the Brand: One of the biggest alternative milk companies, Pacific Foods offers more than oat: they also have almond, cashew, coconut, hazelnut, and soy. “Enjoy the natural sweetness of oats over cereal, in a glass, or baked into your favorite coffee cake. Good source of lactose-free and soy-free calcium and vitamin D. Naturally sweetened with organic oats,” says the Pacific Foods website. This is not a barista blend.
Ordering: Sold at Healthy Options (in-store and online), they are probably the easiest option to buy. I bought mine in store. A 946 ml carton costs ₱195.
Taste: The one brand I had tried before conducting this survey, this is what I expected Koita’s version to taste like. Rich and decadent, and out of the non-barista versions I thought this was the best.
Conclusion: If I were going to straight-up glug oat milk out of a carton like a heathen, this would be my choice.
My dad, after lunch, as the dishes are cleared: “This is good,” he said. About the coffee: “I like the coffee.”
Rude Health Barista Oat Organic from Raw Bites
About the Brand: We are back to barista blends, so I had high expectations. On the Rude Health website, they extoll the organic virtues of the product: “Take Organic oats and blend them with spring water, a drop of sunflower oil, and a touch of seas salt to create the best Organic Barista Oat drink on the block. Just four simple ingredients. That’s it.”
Ordering: Rude Health Oat Organic is available on Raw Bites, a “wholesome e-grocery” for ₱225 (1L). They also sell on Lazada. Ordering is easy and seamless. COD is available.
Taste: In terms of the creamy, foamy, fullness I want out of a barista version of oat milk, this has it. It does, however, leave a slightly weird taste in my mouth. Not the slimy aftertaste, but something else that stands out.
Conclusion: Save for the weird taste, I did like this and I think it holds up. It would do as a substitute, in a pinch.
My dad, staring balefully at me as I interrupt him at the piano: “I like this one,” he said. The “milk”-and-coffee mixture got a thumbs up too, but I think it’s probably because he enjoys our coffee.
Special bark from my dog, Princess: I let her lick some off of my hand, and while she obviously can’t talk (on account of being, you know, a dog) she did seem to enjoy it. I guess I have a sosyal vegan dog?
Minor Figures Organic Oat Milk from Rare Food Shop
About the brand: Minor Figures has the chicest packaging: it’s not hard to imagine that a chill art student sat and illustrated each carton, probably inspired by their own quirky lives. The brand doesn’t set out to replicate dairy, so the main point is to create “milk” that is perfectly paired with coffee. “It doesn’t split in the lightest roasts, and textures to the perfect micro-foam when steamed,” describing their product as something with “a creamy but clean texture –in order to focus on each individual coffee’s fidelity and well-balanced acidity.”
Ordering: Minor Figures Organic Oat Milk is available on Rare Food Shop. Standing at 1L for ₱350, this is the same price as one carton of Oatly Barista. COD is available. I have also seen it going for ₱500 at Wildflour.
Taste: This to me is the second best Barista edition of oat milk, second to Oatly’s. Creamy, foamy, no aftertaste, and pairs perfectly with coffee. It is so good it was hard to drink while sitting on my desk, working from home because I’d take a sip and sigh with pleasure, look out of my window, and be distracted for five minutes…before taking another sip and the whole cycle would start again.
Conclusion: I liked it so much that when I looked at Rare Food Shop again, I saw there were only twelve left. I panicked and bought ALL OF IT. The next day, it arrived, and when my mom opened the larder she yelled out “KANINONG MILK ITONG LAHAT????” after which, I then I had to explain that oat milk doesn’t go bad for a long time. So, if you also order from Rare Food and wondered why they suddenly sold out…it’s because of me (in my defense, Anthony Faucci has nothing against hoarding oat milk). Having checked again, they have five in stock, so hurry!
If Oatly and Minor Figures were two handsome men vying for my attention I would, 100% still go for Oatly but I know with his propensity for being sold out, Minor Figures is probably the safest choice. It’s like Laurie vs. Professor Bhaer: one is a handsome man full of riches and the other one is the steadfast choice that will keep you well-fed. Or something (I was watching Little Women on HBO while writing this section of the article).
My dad, once again after lunch: “Oh, I think this is the best.” A sip of the coffee, “yeah it’s good.”
Natrue Oat Drink on Zalora
About the brand: I couldn’t find the brand’s website, but according to the description on Zalora, Natrue is “made with premium oats mixed water sourced from Montseny reserve.” I googled Montseny, and according to UNESCO, it is “located between the Mediterranean and Eurosiberian-Pirenaic regions in the Mediterranean Sclerophyll Province. It is the highest part of the Catalan coastal range.” So, Spain. This makes me think Natrue is possibly a Spanish, or if not, a European brand anyhow.
Ordering: I cannot believe it is possible to order oat milk on Zalora. I have never ordered food or beverages from Zalora, but this is a thriving section that exists on the e-commerce platform. One 1L carton is priced at ₱129. COD is available.
Taste: This is not a barista blend, and not as rich and creamy as the Pacific Foods, so it has the same issues as Koita. Again, probably better in your oatmeal or smoothie.
Conclusion: It was a bit of a bummer to end on a low, but also a relief because it meant I could get cracking on my 12 cartons of Minor Figures.
Dad, extremely done with this experiment: “Yesterday’s was better.” I agree. He had the same opinion on the coffee, with which I also agree.
- Minor Figures Organic Oat Milk (Dad’s favorite)
- Rude Health Oat Organic (Princess the Dog’s favorite)
- Pacific Foods Organic Oats Plant-Based Beverage
- Koita Oat Beverage from The Black Bean
- Natrue Oat Drink
Final word: As I was editing this article, I received a message from Hygge Bev: Oatly Barista is back! They are, however, limiting all orders for 2 pcs per person, which I will avail of soon enough, even if my mom might murder me if another order of oat milk takes up space in the kitchen.