A Quick Guide to Oat Milk—the Dairy Alternative Gaining Popularity

Plus our favorite oat-milk lattes in the Twin Cities
The basis of oat milk...oats!
The basis of oat milk…oats!

Andrea Tummons/Courtesy of Unsplash

It’s creamy. It’s frothy. It’s oat-y. Oat milk is the newest milk alternative to gain mainstream attention, with Starbucks adding it to U.K. stores in 2018, then at select U.S. stores this past spring. Made by soaking oats in water, blending, and straining, oat milk offers a dairy-like texture without the lactose.

When did it become popular?

While dairy alternatives have been around for a while, oat milk offers something the others—such as almond or soy milk—don’t: the smoothness of dairy with the slight taste of oat. Oat milk is popular in Europe, where it’s commonplace in cafes and Starbucks. In March, Starbucks announced its decision to begin offering oat milk to U.S. patrons, too, starting with Starbucks Reserve locations in Seattle, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco.

What can I use it for?

Oat milk can be consumed alone, in cereals, in coffee, for specialty espresso drinks, or with oatmeal itself (!)—a redundant yet delicious option. Coffee is an obvious pairing, but smoothies and baked goods, like cookies or muffins, are also great with it. While oat milk is often warmed up for coffee drinks, lots of cafes also offer it iced, so it’s an option during the summer months.

Where can I find it?

In Minnesota, independent cafes around the state are tapping into the demand for oat milk by adding it as an option for regular drinks and for their staple sips, too. Plus, many, if not all, grocery stores have begun including oat milk in their usual lineup of dairy alternatives, featuring such brands as Oatly and Oat Yeah by Silk. The Swedish brand, Oatly, has even put together an Oatfinder website to help you find grocery stores and cafes that offer the milk in your area.

Here are our favorite specialty oat-milk drinks at cafes in the Twin Cities area—with varying temperatures and their own special names:

Sugar Shack at Salty Tart: Located next to the CHS Field in St. Paul, Salty Tart offers hand-crafted espresso drinks, including the Sugar Shack. This latte takes the cake with maple-syrup flavoring and warm oat milk.

North Woods at Northern Coffeeworks: Downtown Minneapolis is home to a delightful iced option, with cold brew and maple flavoring—perfect if you’re looking for something refreshing.

Solid Gold at Spyhouse Coffee Roasting Co.: With many locations in the Twin Cities, Spyhouse knows what’s trending. The Solid Gold Latte pushes all the right buttons: oat milk with tumeric and ginger.