Barista milk
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Barista milk

Barista milk is formulated to produce beautiful and tasty milk-based coffees, especially when using plant-based (e.g. almond, oat, soy) milks.

Why barista milk?

A milk-based coffee with stunning latte art requires milk that won’t break when heated and that will produce the right size of bubbles for texture. For the most part, this is not an issue with cow’s milk. However, non-dairy (i.e. plant-based) milks can be tricky to work with. In addition, coffees bought at cafes need to taste better than anything you can make at home.

Barista milk in the Australian market

Many manufacturers of dairy and non-dairy milks now offer a barista range of products. Brands include Milklab (which belongs to Procal and is used in many cafes), Vitasoy, Australia’s Own, Sanitarium So Good, Almond Breeze, Inside Out, Oatly and Coles. Most brands are available in supermarkets and cafes, and some sell only to businesses.

Ingredients in non-dairy barista vs regular milk

I made a comparison for brands that have both barista and non-barista products. I had the suspicion that barista milks would have a lot more ingredients than regular milks. However, a lot of non-barista dairy-free milks do contain several additives, and the difference stems on which extra ingredients (highlighted in yellow below) are added to the core ones (i.e. water and nuts/soybeans/soy protein).

Vitasoy Home Barista Almond Milk Vitasoy Unsweetened Almond UHT Milk
filtered water filtered water
whole almonds (min 3.5%) whole almonds (min. 3.8%)
raw sugar
sunflower oil
mineral (calcium phosphate)
emulsifiers (471, 322) emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)
sea salt sea salt
natural flavour natural flavour
vegetable gums (407, 418) vegetable gum (gellan)
food acid (331)
Vitasoy Home Barista Oat Milk Vitasoy Oat Long Life Milk
filtered water filtered water
whole oats whole oats (min. 10%)
sunflower oil sunflower oil
oat flour oat flour
gum arabic
mineral (calcium, phosphate, calcium carbonate) mineral (calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate)
food acid (340) food acid (340)
emulsifiers (471)
natural flavour natural flavour
sea salt sea salt
Vitasoy Home Barista Soy Milk Vitasoy Soy Milk Original
filtered water filtered water
whole soybeans (min. 14%) organic whole soybeans (min. 15%)
barley malt
barley flour
raw sugar raw sugar
sunflower oil
mineral (calcium phosphate) mineral (calcium phosphate)
vegetable gums (460, 466, 407)
natural flavours natural flavour
sea salt sea salt
food acids (340, 331)
kombu (kelp)
vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin B2)
Sanitarium So Good Barista Edition Almond Milk Sanitarium So Good Long Life Unsweetened Almond Milk
filtered water filtered water
ground almonds (3%) ground almonds (2.5%)
cane sugar
corn starch
mineral (calcium) mineral (calcium)
emulsifiers [473, 472(c)] emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)
natural flavour
salt salt
mineral salt (sodium bicarbonate)
vegetable gum (gellan) vegetable gum (gellan)
antioxidant (ascorbic acid) antioxidant (ascorbic acid)
vitamins (B12, B2, B1) vitamins (B12, B2, B1)
acidity regulators (332, 450)
Sanitarium So Good Chilled Barista Almond Sanitarium So Good Chilled Unsweetened Almond Milk
filtered water filtered water
ground almonds (3%) almonds (2.5%)
cane sugar
corn maltodextrin
vegetable oils (sunflower, canola)
minerals (phosphorus, calcium) mineral (calcium)
emulsifier (322) emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)
natural flavour
salt
mineral salt (sodium bicarbonate)
vegetable gums (410, 418) vegetable gum (gellan)
antioxidant (ascorbic acid) antioxidant (ascorbic acid)
vitamins (B12, B2, B1) vitamins (B12, B2, B1)
Sanitarium So Good Barista Edition Oat Milk Sanitarium So Good Oat No Added Sugar UHT Milk
filtered water filtered water
oat flour (9%) milled oats (min. 9%)
vegetable oils (sunflower, canola) vegetable oils (sunflower, canola)
minerals (phosphorus, calcium) minerals (calcium, phosphorus)
acidity regulator (332)
salt salt
antioxidant (ascorbic acid) antioxidant (ascorbic acid)
vitamins (B12, A, B2, B1) vitamins (B12, A, B2, D, B1)
Sanitarium So Good Barista Edition Soy Milk Sanitarium So Good Long Life Regular Soy Milk
filtered water filtered water
soy protein (3.5%) soy protein (3.5%)
corn maltodextrin corn maltodextrin
vegetable oils (sunflower, canola) vegetable oils (sunflower, canola)
cane sugar cane sugar
minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium) minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium)
acidity regulators (332, 450) acidity regulators (332, 450)
corn starch
soy fibre
antioxidant (ascorbic acid) antioxidant (ascorbic acid)
vitamins (B12, A, B2, B1) vitamins (A, B12, D2, B2, B1)
natural flavour
Coles Dairy Free Barista Almond Milk Coles Unsweetened Almond Milk
water water
almonds (2.5%) ground almonds (2.5%)
maltodextrin
sugar
sunflower oil
acidity regulators (340, 332)
tapioca starch
salt salt
sunflower lecithin vegetable emulsifier (322, sunflower)
vegetable gums (gellan gum, xanthan gum) vegetable gums (418, 415)
natural flavour natural vanilla flavouring
mineral salt (170)
Coles Dairy Free Barista Soy Milk Coles Regular Soy Milk
water water
milled soy beans (4.7%)
soy protein (4%)
maltodextrin (from corn) maltodextrin (corn)
sugar sugar
canola oil canola oil
mineral salts (450, 509, 526, 504)
acidity regulators (332, 340) acidity regulators (338, 332)
natural flavours
sunflower lecithin
stabilisers (460, 466)
salt
vegetable gum (407)
vitamins (riboflavin, A, B12)
Almond Breeze Barista Blend Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk
filtered water filtered water
ground whole almonds (2.5%) ground whole almonds (2.5%)
sunflower oil
corn maltodextrin
tapioca starch
mineral salt (calcium carbonate [ground limestone])
acidity regulator (dipotassium phosphate, potassium citrate)
stabiliser (carrageenan, locust bean gum, sodium alginate, guar gum) stabiliser (carrageenan)
salt salt
emulsifier (sunflower lecithin) emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)
natural flavour natural flavour
Australia’s Own Barista Almond Australia’s Own Unsweetened Almond Milk
water water
organic almonds (3.5%) organic almonds (3%)
sugar
sunflower oil organic sunflower oil
maltodextrin (from corn)
acidity regulator (340, 332)
vegetable gums (418, 415, 410)
sunflower lecithin
salt salt
Inside Out Barista Almond UHT Milk Inside Out Almond Unsweetened UHT Milk
filtered water filtered water
activated almonds (5%) activated almonds (5%)
maltodextrin
raw sugar
minerals (potassium citrate, potassium phosphate) mineral (calcium phosphate)
coconut fat [coconut oil, glucose syrup, E1450, E551]
vegetable oil (rapeseed)
faba bean
sea salt sea salt
vegetable gum (gellan) vegetable gum (gellan)
Oatly Oat Milk Barista Edition Oatly Oat Milk
water water
oats (10%) oats (10%)
rapeseed oil rapeseed oil
acidity regulator (dipotassium phosphate)
calcium carbonate calcium carbonate
calcium phosphates calcium phosphates
iodised salt iodised salt
vitamins (D2, riboflavin, B12) vitamins (D2, riboflavin, B12)

From the analysed products, we can see the most common ingredients added to barista milk are salt, vegetable oil, sugar, minerals, acidity regulators, maltodextrin, vegetable gum, emulsifier and natural flavour. The most common ingredients added to non-barista milks are salt, minerals, natural flavour, vegetable oil, vitamins, vegetable gum, emulsifier and mineral salt.

Nutrients in non-dairy barista vs regular milk

I was expecting barista milks to have more fat and more sugar than regular milks. This is the case for many, but not all products. Check the tables below for a nutrient comparison per 100ml of product. I have highlighted in red those values that are higher in barista than in non-barista milk (except for protein) and in green those values that are lower in barista than in non-barista milk (again, except for protein).

Product Almond Breeze Barista Blend Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk
Energy 100 67
Protein 0.6 0.5
Fat, total 1.9 1.2
– Saturated 0.2 <0.1
Carbohydrate 1.2 0.7
– Sugars 0.2 0.1
Sodium 47 52
Product Australia’s Own Barista Almond Australia’s Own Unsweetened Almond Milk
Energy 155 90
Protein 1.0 0.6
Fat, total 2.5 2
– Saturated 0.2 0.2
Carbohydrate 2.5 0.3
– Sugars 1.7 0.1
Sodium 41 40
Product Coles Dairy Free Barista Almond Milk Coles Unsweetened Almond Milk
Energy 108 75
Protein <1.0 <1.0
Fat, total 2.0 1.4
– Saturated <1.0 <1.0
Carbohydrate 1.3 <1.0
– Sugars <1.0 <1.0
Sodium 41 39
Product Coles Dairy Free Barista Soy Milk Coles Regular Soy Milk
Energy 227 244
Protein 1.9 3.1
Fat, total 2.6 3
– Saturated <1.0 <1.0
Carbohydrate 5.4 4.7
– Sugars 1.8 1.6
Sodium 35 60
Product Inside Out Barista Almond UHT Milk Inside Out Almond Unsweetened UHT Milk
Energy 199 68
Protein 0.7 0.16
Fat, total 2.0 1.4
– Saturated 0.2 0.1
Carbohydrate 6.2 0.2
– Sugars 1.5 0.1
Sodium 26 34
Product Oatly Oat Milk Barista Edition Oatly Oat Milk
Energy 247 193
Protein 1.0 1
Fat, total 3.0 1.5
– Saturated 0.3 0.2
Carbohydrate 6.6 6.7
– Sugars 4.0 4.1
Sodium 42 42
Product Sanitarium So Good Barista Edition Almond Milk Sanitarium So Good Long Life Unsweetened Almond Milk
Energy 106 69
Protein 0.7 0.6
Fat, total 1.5 1.4
– Saturated 0.1 0.1
Carbohydrate 1.9 0.3
– Sugars 1.4 0.1
Sodium 40 36
Product Sanitarium So Good Chilled Barista Almond Sanitarium So Good Chilled Unsweetened Almond Milk
Energy 164 69
Protein 0.8 0.6
Fat, total 2.6 1.4
– Saturated 0.2 0.1
Carbohydrate 2.8 0.3
– Sugars 1.6 0.1
Sodium 39 36
Product Sanitarium So Good Barista Edition Oat Milk Sanitarium So Good Oat No Added Sugar UHT Milk
Energy 239 181
Protein 1.0 0.8
Fat, total 3.1 1.5
– Saturated 0.4 0.2
Carbohydrate 6.0 6.4
– Sugars 2.0 2.3
Sodium 41 43
Product Sanitarium So Good Barista Edition Soy Milk Sanitarium So Good Long Life Regular Soy Milk
Energy 241 273
Protein 3.4 3.2
Fat, total 3.1 3.5
– Saturated 0.4 0.4
Carbohydrate 3.9 5.1
– Sugars 1.9 2
Sodium 40 40
Product Vitasoy Home Barista Almond Milk Vitasoy Unsweetened Almond UHT Milk
Energy 123 86
Protein 0.5 0.7
Fat, total 2.2 1.8
– Saturated 0.4 0.2
Carbohydrate 1.8 0.3
– Sugars 1.5 0.1
Sodium 68 36
Product Vitasoy Home Barista Oat Milk Vitasoy Oat Long Life Milk
Energy 209 201
Protein 0.6 0.6
Fat, total 2.2 2.1
– Saturated 0.4 0.3
Carbohydrate 6.5 6.2
– Sugars 1.0 1
Sodium 51 50
Product Vitasoy Home Barista Soy Milk Vitasoy Soy Milk Original
Energy 175 257
Protein 3.0 3.3
Fat, total 1.8 3.3
– Saturated 0.3 0.5
Carbohydrate 3.1 5
– Sugars 2.1 2.6
Sodium 70 60

What about barista dairy milk?

Dairy milk is not commonly marketed as barista milk because it usually has the right composition to make good milk-based beverages. Not surprisingly, the ingredients in barista cow’s milk are most of the time just milk. One brand (Norco Foods) adds milk solids to their barista milk. Fat content in barista dairy milks ranges from 3.5 grams per 100 ml (same as regular full cream milk) to 4.2 grams per 100 ml.

Summary and recommendations

Barista milk is formulated to achieve the desired texture and flavour in cafe-style milk-based coffees. To this end, manufacturers add a number of ingredients, including sugar and vegetable oils, to non-dairy milks (e.g. almond, oat, soy). As a result, barista milks are often higher in energy, fat and sugar than their non-barista counterparts.

Should you drink barista non-dairy milk? Obviously, if you buy your coffee at a cafe you have no control over which milk they use. However, if you have a few options near you, check which milks they use if you wish to make an informed choice. If you buy milk for home and use it regularly, I suggest you choose the milk with better ingredients even if your latte art doesn’t turn out perfect.

For more information about plant-based and dairy milks, check out my previous articles: Oat milk comeback, What’s the deal with almond milk? and Is dairy good for you?.

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