I consider myself somewhat of an oat milk connoisseur. Not only because my article about the Great Oat Milk Crisis of 2018 went viral, leading dozens of trolls to comment things like “oat milk oink oink oink” (good one!) on my Instagram, but also because I’ve paid close attention to the preponderance of alternative milk brands that have started producing oat-based options over the course of the last year. I’ve tried quite a few of them in the wake of Oatly’s devastating shortage, and I figured it was high time I recorded my thoughts for posterity. Scroll down for my review of six different oat milk varieties, an act of guinea pig journalism that will no doubt go down in history as a civic service of the highest order.
1. Minor Figures Oat Milk
First of all, I have to give this brand points for the extremely endearing packaging, which features a woman dressed as a bird drinking a cappuccino (+2). Apparently her name is Penelope (+1). I wish it was a teeny bit sweeter and a teeny bit thicker because I like my oat milks to taste like milkshakes (-2), but the overall flavor was pleasantly reminiscent of the bottom of a cereal bowl (+1). I would imagine it tastes even better heated up in a latte or cappuccino, seeing as it was formulated by baristas for this exact purpose, but I had to stick to the straight formula for the purposes of this experiment.
Final score: 3
2. Oatly! Oat Milk
Pleasantly thick (+1). SUPER creamy (+3). Just the right amount of sweet (+1). I would compare the consistency of Oatly less to the bottom of a cereal bowl and more to a scoop of vanilla ice cream that has melted, which is why it works so well in caffeinated drinks. It’s like a non-dairy version of half and half. Kudos to Oatly for having some of the weirdest, most entertaining packaging in the game (+1). I particularly enjoy the fact that pretty much all of their product copy involves a run-on sentence.
Final score: 6
3. Pacific Oat Milk
Hmm. I did not like this one. I wanted to like it, just like I wanted to like beets when I recently tried them for the umpteenth time in my adult life, but alas, in both cases, I would simply prefer to be consuming something else. Pacific oat milk is extremely liquid-y, which makes me think it would detract from a caffeinated drink instead of enhance it (-1). It’s also very sweet. Too sweet (-2). I was pretty surprised when I checked the list of ingredients and found them to be pretty much identical to that of the other oat milks I had sampled. There was no added sugar. Not even honey! A true mystery, especially because the nutritional information indicates that a cup of Pacific oat milk has more than twice the amount of sugar (19 grams) than most of the other oat milks. I’ll throw it a point for being the only organic option, though (+1).
Final score: -2
4. Happy Planet Oat Milk
This one was just the right amount of sweet (+1). Like a work friend who will pick kale out of your teeth with her own fingernail but will mock you for your admittedly questionable taste in music. It did, however have a slightly musky aftertaste, which is common to a lot of non-dairy milks, which isn’t the end of the world, but not my fave if I’m being picky (-1). Overall the taste and lighter consistency actually reminded me of macadamia milk, which I tried once when my neighborhood café was out of oat milk, but slightly creamier (+1) and more refreshing (+1).
Final score: 2
5. Silk “Oat Yeah” Oat Milk
Not super sweet, but also not completely devoid of that tell-tale oat-y taste. It has a nice, balanced flavor profile (+1), and is pretty creamy (+1). The taste was similar to that of Silk’s soy milk, and had the kind of consistency I actually enjoyed drinking straight from a glass. Bonus point for a funny name (+1), but I’m inclined to deduct one given that its ingredient list included the most additives of any I tried (-1).
Total score: 2
6. Califia Farms Oat Milk
Quite creamy this one is, my lieges (+2). Don’t ask me why I decided to write this sentence like I’m Yoda or why I’m now referring to you as a feudal superior, because the boring answer is simply that it just felt right. Am I high on too much oat milk? I wouldn’t put it past me. I would, however, endorse the subtle sweetness of Califia’s oat milk before a jury of my peers (+1), which is especially notable since it has the least sugar of any that I tried (+2). I do wish it was a little thicker, but only for the purposes of my ideal hot latte (-1).
Total score: 4
I was very willing to cede my oat milk loyalties to another brand besides Oatly as a result of this experiment but, I cannot lie. It’s still my favorite. That being said, if you prefer a slightly less milkshake-y vibe in your morning coffee, I would heartily recommend Califia. If you like macadamia milk, I think you’d really like Happy Planet’s oat milk. Ditto for Silk’s “Oat Yeah” if you’re a soy lover. Opt for Minor Figures if you’ve always wanted to befriend a woman named Penelope dressed as a bird. Slurp up some Pacific if you have a sweet tooth that won’t quit. There’s truly an oat milk for everyone, and that concludes my sermon for today.
Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.