The Great Oat Milk Taste Test

oat-milk-taste-test

Photo credit Heewei Lee

Oat milk we ♥ you.

Ever since we first met Oatly at Food Loves Tech a couple years back, we’ve been ordering it in lattes every chance we get. We even had an oat-milk-in-every-course-even-the-drinks feast as part of our In the Field podcast, and with recipe developer Caroline Lange’s help, made vegan oat milk cream pies last winter.

And while Oatly first made us pay attention to the surprisingly creamy, legitimately tasty milk beverage, a host of other companies have entered the oat milk game. To put the various beverages (as some prefer to call them) to the test, our editor-in-chief Ariel Lauren Wilson (Lauren) and digital strategy editor Bridget Shirvell gathered five of the most readily found oat milks in New York City and headed to Joe Coffee Company Pro Shop where director of training and education Christopher Malarick whipped up oat milk lattes.

Read more: These 3 Coffee Shops Offer Classes That Will Make You an Espresso Master

Here are the results of our very unscientific oat milk taste test:

Pacific Foods Organic Oat Milk

Pacific Foods is one of the first to make a USDA-certified organic oat milk. Overall, we found the milk resulted in a noticably sweeter latte with a mild oat flavor that allowed the acidity of the coffee to shine.

Highlights:

  • Texture: The texture of this milk was very nice according to Christopher, resulting in very fine bubbles in the foam.
  • Pours well: The milk’s velvety texture poured well into the latte and it held the heart shape of the foam.
  • Organic: Pacific Foods’ oat milk was one of only two USDA organic oat milks we could readily find. While there’s a lot of debate over whether organic food is safer for you, studies show that eating an organic diet reduces exposure to some pesticides, and a 2018 EWG study found the chemical glyphosate in many popular oat-based foods.

Lowlights:

  • Sugar Content: While there was no added sugar, this oat milk had 17 grams of sugar per serving, the most of any we tried, and was very sweet to taste.

Read more: Oat Milk Does in Fact Make a Delicious Oatmeal Cream Pie

Oatly

Oatly is what you’ll get if you order oat milk at Joe, and going into this taste test we all wondered if any of the oat milks could deliver as a satisfying a latte as it does. After all, it is the brand that sparked New York’s ongoing oat milk obsession.

Highlights:

  • Texture: It’s set the standard other oat milks aspire to. You see the definition in the heart shape of the foam.
  • Creaminess: There’s something very decadent and yet not at all sticky about the oat milk latte. It gives the latte a luscious mouthfeel.
  • Availability: After initially being hard to find, Oatly, with a new facility in New Jersey, seems to have overcome its supply issues and is now one of the easiest oat milks to find in the city.

Lowlights:

  • Oat taste: It does leave you with a pretty oaty and even grainy taste on the finish. Taste is subjective of course, though, so your choice.
  • Ingredients: It has the most complicated list with 11 different ingredients including additives such as dicalcium phosphate and calcium carbonate.

Planet Oat Oatmilk

Dairy giant HP Hood launched Planet Oat at Amazon Fresh, Shaw’s and other supermarkets in December 2018. The four-oat milk line includes a chocolate oat milk, a vanilla oat milk, an extra creamery oat milk, and their standard, which we stuck to for our taste test:

Highlights:

  • Texture: The overall texture was nice and it was poured really well.
  • Lets the coffee shine: If you want your espresso front and center, Planet Oat’s oat milk really showed off its quality.
  • Ingredients: It had one of the lowest fat contents of the oat milks we tried and while fortified with vitamins A, B2, B12 and D2 (not unlike Vitamin D milk), the ingredients were simpler than some of the others we tried.

Lowlights:

  • Availability: While you can find via Amazon, it wasn’t available at my local Key Foods.
  • Shape retention: This one didn’t hold the overall heart shape as well as the RISE (up next), Oatly or Pacific Foods.

Read more: We Made an Oat-Milk-in-Every-Course Dinner

Rise Brewing Co.’s Organic Oat Milk

After not finding an oat milk they loved, New York–based RISE Brewing Co. began making their own for their canned cold brews back in 2018. This summer they began selling cartons of their USDA organic oat milk, making it one of the if not the newest oat milks on the market.

Highlights:

  • Texture: There were no visible bubbles and it looked the most like actual cow’s milk on the pour.
  • Simple ingredients: While many oat milks have a long list of ingredients, RISE’s has only four: organic oats, organic sunflower oil, sea salt and purified water.
  • Organic: RISE’s oat milk was one of only two USDA organic oat milks we could readily find.
  • Overall taste: RISE’s oat milk was our overall favorite for taste. There was almost no hint of oat in the latte (if that’s your thing), and it balanced the acidity of coffee well.

Lowlights:

  • Availability: Because RISE’s oat milk is so new to the market, it’s not clear how easily it’ll be able to find. Currently you can pre-order it for shipment in August.

Read more: Which Plant-Based Milk Is Best for the Environment?

Quaker Oat Beverage

We’re happy to see major food brands such as Quaker Oats get in on oats (growing them is nowhere near as environmentally intensive as almonds, for example), but their oat beverage in a latte left much to be desired:

Highlights:

  • Availability: Readily available at most major supermarkets.
  • Ingredients: The ingredient list was fairly simple and there were no added sugars.

Lowlights:

  • Overall taste: It watered down the coffee and Christopher said that working with it under the steam wand was like working with homemade oat milk.
  • Shape retention: This one didn’t hold the overall heart shape as well as any of the other brands.

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