Dairy’s Out. Blue Bottle Coffee Now Defaults to Oat Milk

Split image of a barista pouring latte art (left) and someone holding up a Blue Bottle Coffee cup (right).

Blue Bottle Coffee is now testing oat milk as the default option in two locations.

Typically, mainstream coffee shops include dairy milk as standard unless an alternative is specifically requested by the customer. But Blue Bottle Coffee is offering Oatly oat milk as the default coffee lightener in at least two of its U.S. stores.

According to the brand itself, this is based on both customer preference and the significant environmental impact of dairy. As reported by New Consumer, the artisan coffee roaster and retailer placed a sign near the register at its West Hollywood, Los Angeles location that reads “May we recommend oat milk?”

“We are now serving oat milk as the default option in your coffee drinks because many of you prefer it and it steams into a beautiful, shiny micro-foam. Plus, oat milk creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than dairy,” continues the sign.

Customers and baristas alike increasingly favor oat milk due to its creamy flavor and foamable texture (both thanks, in part, to its high polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat content). 

Barista-style oat milk typically has an even higher fat content than other varieties, as well as an acidity regulator to avoid splitting—even with fruity, complex coffees. It’s also almost entirely allergen-free (unlike dairy, soy, and almond), making it safe for the majority of consumers.

According to the Blue Bottle Coffee iPhone app, the Jackson Square, San Francisco location is also offering oat-by-default, but the company has yet to confirm whether it will expand the trial to additional stores.

Photo of the front of a Blue Bottle Coffee shop and roastery. All the brand's branches now serve oatPhoto of the front of a Blue Bottle Coffee shop and roastery. All branches now serve oat milk. milk.
Customers can order Oatly oat milk at Blue Bottle for no extra charge. | Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle Coffee Embraces Oat Milk

Headquartered in Oakland, California, Blue Bottle Coffee now operates at least 99 locations nationwide and overseas, including in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, all of which serve Oatly’s barista oat milk upon request—with no additional cost.

The controversial surcharge on plant-based milk products has now been ditched by Starbucks, Pret A Manger, Costa, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and more. This is a significant win, not just for those who choose plant-based milk for ethical or environmental reasons, but also for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.

Overall, demand for vegan milk (and oat milk, in particular) is at an all-time high. According to a recent report by Market Research Future, the oat milk market could be worth $2.2 billion by 2026, while the dairy alternatives market as a whole could reach $40.6 billion by the same year.

Along with customer demand, the relative sustainability of oat milk remains a key factor both for consumers and cafe chains, as noted by Blue Bottle Coffee. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has previously stated that his company’s move towards plant-based ingredients will help mitigate its significant carbon footprint, owed primarily to dairy products like whipped cream and milk.

Are you struggling to find your oat milk of choice in stores right now? Check out LIVEKINDLY’s guide on how to make your own here.