How Oat Milk conquered America



The Swedish company Oatly won over American baristas and launched a massive trend

When Chicago barista Dominic Rodriguez first heard about oat milk, he was skeptical. He had latte-making down to a fine art — at coffee competitions, he sculpts swan-necked turkeys and roses out of foam — and in his experience, plant-based milks didn’t foam correctly. “I’m a milk guy, I don’t need milk alternatives,” he said. But then Intelligentsia, a well-respected coffee shop he frequents, started serving oat milk, and Rodriguez thought there was no way they’d promote it if they didn’t think it was good.

He gave it a shot. It needed less steam than cow’s milk, but more heat, and frothed into a stable textured foam that was easy to pour. He examined his drink. It looked normal. He sipped it — it didn’t taste exactly like cow’s milk, but it was sweet and thick and rich, not watery like most almond milks. He liked it. But would his customers agree? Resoundingly, yes. Now, around 40% of all drinks ordered at his workplace, Metric Coffee, use oat milk; his matcha oat milk latte is a top seller.

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