The days of soy lattes being the alternative drink of choice have now long passed. It seems Australia (Melbourne in particular) is the forerunner in the explosion of consumer demands and interest in alternative lattes. Think green milky drinks made on a base of matcha, bright orange hues found in a golden latte and newer on the block, beetroot lattes, mushroom lattes and more. So what do these new coffee alternatives give us nutritionally and what do they taste like? And who’s drinking them?
Over the past year alone the health and wellness culture has become a large player in the café industry. Cities such as Melbourne and Sydney (with Brisbane always tagging along in pursuit) have lead the way in bringing forth a new dimension of dining that is fast becoming the norm. The demand has predominantly arisen thanks to the social media explosion in health and wellness. Fitness and health bloggers based all over the world are sharing their wellness lifestyles on platforms such as Instagram in an attractive and illuminating light. The café culture has heard the market demand and continues to answer with innovative menu options that play up to the public’s desire.
As a result, the soy latte has been left behind in the realms of the alternative coffee option. First off as the wellness industry spread its wings, it was the demand for a wider variety of milks such as almond, coconut and rice milk. The rise of food intolerances and awareness around dairy sensitivity combined with the popularity of paleo and vegan diets has escalated the demand for alternative milks. It is now expected in health focused hot spots of major cities that cafes will carry the above milk options, almost frowned upon if not.
The recent shift has seen a move away from coffee (though coffee will always be an institution in Melbourne) and the rise of ‘superfood’ latte’s. Although, it must also be noted that coffee is pushing the boundaries in its own way. Café’s are now offering the popular ketogenic bulletproof coffee (espresso served with ghee or coconut oil and MCT oil). There is also a public demand regarding the source and origin of the coffee alongside coffee being organic and locally sourced.
The concept behind these superfood lattes is that not only do they taste delicious; they offer a nutritional boost of nutrients and antioxidants. The leaders of the pack when it comes to these lattes are without question matcha lattes and golden/turmeric latte’s. I’ve written about my love for matcha before within my Pimped Up Matcha recipe. For those of you reading new to matcha, a matcha latte is made with ground tea powder that is frothed into the warmed milk of choice, generally almond or coconut milk. Matcha is high in antioxidants, in particularly EGCG, well known and researched for its antioxidant potential. Matcha also contains a little caffeine giving those stepping away from coffee a little boost.
Turmeric or golden latte’s are generally a mix of ground turmeric powder, cinnamon, black pepper and ginger, almost like a chai latte with an added hit of heat. As you may imagine, these latte’s have an almost iridescent yellow hue that is stunning to look at. They are naturally sweet and spicy, warming to your belly on a cold day. Turmeric is well known as a powerful anti-inflammatory, which has cemented its popularity in the alternative latte movement.
New to this latte crowd is beetroot lattes sporting a stunning red hue. Beetroot is known for its liver supportive nutrients definitely ensuring its place amongst its healthy menu competitors. Cafés are infusing beetroot latte’s with other flavours such as chocolate, or adding sweeteners to down play the earthy tones in the beetroot juice that is added to milk and frothed ready for drinking. Mushroom latte’s are the newest kid on the block, bringing to the playing field immune boosting properties. These lattes have a similar colour to a milky coffee and again are often spiced with added sweeteners to down play the mushroom dominance.
Fresh of the press of late is the blue algae latte, a stunning blue hue created by adding blue algae powder to frothed coconut milk. The flavour of the algae powder is usually covered with hints of ginger and honey. Blue algae, like spirulina, is used for its rich nutrient content (in particular its array of minerals) and alkalising actions.
Within Melbourne suburbs such as St Kilda, Richmond and Prahran are the epicentre of these super popular cafes. On weekends you’ll need to put down your name and wait to get a table before even thinking about sipping on your latte of choice. It seems like everyone wants a table at these cafes and they are prepared to wait. Running leagues above the rest with nine lattes on the menu is Matcha Mylkbar, steaming ahead with innovative ideas and concepts. Customers can sip away on turmeric and mushroom latte’s, or perhaps a beetroot latte infused with chocolate and orange. The possibilities seem endless.
I suggest next time you are visiting a hipster cafe to step outside the box and consider opting for one of these innovative and exciting lattes over the comfort of your usual coffee or tea. There is a world of endless flavours and nutritional benefits out there and I am sure you will not be disappointed. As long as your hipster barrister knows what she or he is doing and doesn’t serve you split almond milk. In these cases of plant based milk crisis, run fast, and don’t go back.
Jessica Cox is a qualified practicing Nutritionist with a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition) and over 15 years of clinical experience. She is the founder and director JCN Clinic, published author and established recipe developer. Jessica is well respected within health and wellness space for her no fad approach and use of evidence-based nutrition.