In the middle of October, while on a recreational sojourn in Barcelona (Spain), I tried oat milk in my coffee for the first time. I don’t think this is an exaggeration: I felt like Columbus “discovering” America. My friend and I were walking through the alleys of the cozy district near the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (the area of Barcelona I would most certainly live if I moved there and if it were affordable enough), and it was there that we found a small coffee shop where we could stop and chill for a bit before continuing to walk and shop. It was also there that we overheard a couple on what appeared to be a first date, during which the woman was more of the talker and seemed to be from the United States. The bit of conversation I heard was about how streets in New York City are pronounced: “It’s Houston, but it’s pronounced HOW-styn,” she said, acknowledging the peculiarity of language, followed by a giggle.
It was also there that my love affair with oat milk began.
It wasn’t like I’d never heard of oat milk before. I’m sure someone had mentioned oat milk to me in passing, or perhaps at some point I saw a tweet about oat milk and it seeped into my subconscious, only to be forgotten in the curds of time. At the coffee shop, along with a slice of a dessert, I ordered cafe con leche. This is where my memory gets fuzzy a bit, but I’m pretty sure I asked, “Do you have almond milk?” And then the barista listed the types of milk they had: Soy, almond, oat. And then I guess I thought: Ah, oat! What a delight! That sounds good. It seems different. Gracias.
However it happened, for some reason, oat milk was on my mind. Or there was a subconscious calling to try oat milk. Maybe it was being in another country that made me feel adventurous, like taking a risk by trying a different type of milk. I usually get almond! An impulsive move, I know. I’m not even a regular coffee drinker. And I do not drink cow’s milk and am therefore on the right side of history.
The coffee with oat milk was so good that I went back to that same coffee shop by myself on another day and ordered a cappuccino with oat milk. It was also great.
Weeks after the trip, I had a stray thought: I wonder if people know about oat milk? I googled “oat milk.” There it was: “Oat milk is popping up in coffee shops everywhere — here’s why baristas love it.” Business Insider. “The Humble Ascent of Oat Milk.” The New York Times. “Why oat milk is the new ‘it’ milk alternative (sorry, soy and almond).” USA Today. All articles from 2018. Imagine my chagrin. Not only do people know about oat milk—they love it. You fool, I thought. Of course... And also: This is so bougie. According to USA Today:
The trend of using liquefied oats in lattes has quickly become more vogue than using almond milk, which already outshone soy milk as the hip, health-conscious way to drink creamy espresso.
Similar to my plant obsession, this was a trend in which I’d mistakenly become entrenched. And there was a brand responsible for this (Oatly). NYT says, “Because almonds require over six times as much water to grow as oats do, according to the Water Footprint Network, the choice to switch from almond milk to oat milk” is simply “environmentally sensible” for some.
It is now mandatory that I have oat milk in my coffee. I recently went to the cafe around the corner from my apartment and stepped up to the counter to order a chai latte. My heart was palpitating. Would they have it? I’d previously gone to another place that didn’t have oat milk and felt downtrodden for the rest of the day. Hesitantly, I asked, “Do you have oat milk...” “Yes,” the barista replied. Inside, I cried, and I ordered a chai latte—with oat milk. Once again, amazing. There’s something about the oaty taste, the frothiness, the enhancement of flavor it adds.
I’m sure there’s something wrong with oat milk that I don’t wanna know about. I’m sure one of you will comment and let me know anyway. At any rate, oat milk has not let me down yet. This is my new thing. Have you heard about it?