Pop Culture dictionary

oat milk

[oht milk]

What does oat milk mean?

Better make room in your fridge for another milk alternative. Oat milk is a plant-based, lactose-free drink made from liquefied oats. It’s widely used as a dairy milk replacement, especially in coffee drinks.

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Where does oat milk come from?

A Virtual Vegan

Coffee aficionados know the pain of wanting a latte but having underwhelming options to replace dairy, whether due to lactose intolerance or other health/diet reasons. Soy milk can be too sweet and is a common allergen, and almond milk is both water-intensive and doesn’t froth well. Enter oat milk. It’s creamy enough to make precious latte art with but retains flavor when steamed.

Like many plant milk recipes, oat milk is simple to make and has been on the market since the 1990s. It saw a meteoric rise in the United States in 2017–18, however, due to the popularity of Swedish oat milk brand, Oatly, long popular in Europe. More specifically, Oatly found a niche in the booming specialty coffee industry (a.k.a. the hipster coffee shop industry) as a delicious alternative to dairy milk.

Cook’s Info

With the boom, oat milk is now common in both small and large coffeeshops. It became so trendy in 2018 that Oatly regularly sold out of its barista variety of oat milk. Do you remember where you were during the Great Oat Milk Shortage of 2018?


Examples of oat milk

I’m just trying to get barista oat milk for my Nespresso
@vegansforsatan, December 2018
It’s that last factor that likely has helped oat milk eclipse almond milk, a drink that requires much more water to make and is largely produced in California. Although almond milk rose in popularity in 2013 with chains like Peet’s Coffee introducing the option, in 2015, almonds became something of a scapegoat for the California drought.
Carly Mallenbaum, USA Today, August 2018
BuzzFeed News

Who uses oat milk?

In 2018, oat milk made the rounds as a food and culture topic on the likes of HuffPost, Refinery 29, and various barista-centered magazines. The general consensus is that, while trendy, oat milk is greatand even nutritious. Its popularity is expected to gain among the eco-conscious and lactose adverse.

Consumer opinions on oat milk do vary, however. Some say it’s delicious and easy to drink.

Others say it’s too expensive, unappetizing, or is just another bizarre bougie invention.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of oat milk like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of oat milk that will help our users expand their word mastery.