Soy Milk, Vegetable Milk or Vegetable Drink? Let’s clarify

filiera del caffè e consumo di caffè espresso nel mondo. cartina mondo caffè
The Coffee Chain is One of the Most Important in the World and in Italy
23 October 2021
torna al blog

Soy Milk, Vegetable Milk or Vegetable Drink? Let’s clarify

latte vegetale e latte di soia al bar

The expression “Vegetable Milk” could be considered an oxymoron, since “milk” is exclusively “the product of normal mammary secretion, obtained from one or more milkings, without any addition or subtraction” (source: EU Regulation).

The term ‘milk’ therefore refers exclusively to a drink of animal origin. It follows that the adjective “vegetable” can’t be added to the term “milk”.

The European Court of Justice has thus intervened to clarify the matter: since 2017, the term “Vegetable Milk” can no longer be used.

Instead of “milk”, the term “beverage” must be used.
This means that “soy milk” or “oat milk” can no longer be found on supermarket shelves, but “Soy Drink” or “Oat Drink”.

Alternatively, manufacturers have started to use fancy names. In London, for example, there is the neologism “Mylk”, which replaces the ‘I’ in the English word “Milk” with the letter “Y”, playing with the similarity of the “I” and “Y” sounds.

We will, however, continue to find the terms “Almond Milk” and “Coconut Milk”, which are exceptions for reasons related to tradition and the typicality of the product.

>> Latte Art and Milk Emulsion <<

Soy Milk at the Coffee Bar: in Italy and in the World

In Italian Coffee Bars, milk… (oh, pardon me!)… Soy Drink is predominant, while the world trend shows a greater diffusion of:

  • Hazelnut Drink
  • followed by Oat Beverage
  • then Soy Beverage
  • with then Almond Milk and Rice Beverage, essentially paired.

Making Cappuccino with Vegetable Beverages

One of the most frequent questions I have received over the years has been: why didn’t these drinks foam before? They weren’t suitable for cappuccino, but now they are, how come?

The secret is all in the label!
I strongly recommend that you ALWAYS look at the ingredients label of each product.

You’ll notice that all the vegetable drinks that are promoted as “bar friendly” or “barista friendly” or that refer to foam and cappuccino have one of these “stabiliser” ingredients in common:

  • Gellan Gum
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Guar Gum
  • or Sunflower Oil

Without one of these ingredients, you are unlikely to get a creamy foam comparable to a Traditional Cappuccino.

The growing success of Vegetable Drinks worldwide is due, in my opinion, to 3 factors:

  • the search for new flavours to mix with the most popular beverage which is coffee
  • a greater awareness of environmental sustainability and nutrition with the consequent consumption of food of “non-animal” origin
  • the increasingly widespread intolerance (or annoyance) to lactose

Leave a Reply