COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – In recent years, non-dairy milks like almond, soy and oat have risen in popularity, impacting the way businesses cater to customers’ tastes. Columbus’ coffee shops and frozen desert sellers are no different.
“I strive to have something for everybody that comes in,” said Stevie Hodge, the general manager at local frozen yogurt shop Freeze Frame. She explained that her business has offered non-dairy options, usually without any sort of traditional or plant-based milk, for all 10 years of her employment.
According to Hodge, current offerings include green apple, cherry, pineapple and watermelon flavors. She added that Freeze Frame generally tries to keep at least two non-dairy options in stock for customers at all times
At Iron Bank Coffee Co. and Fountain City Coffee, representatives agreed oat milk’s popularity amongst customers has increased recently.
“Everybody definitely likes oat milk these days,” Iron Bank store manager Heather McComb said. She explained oat milk and almond milk are probably the most popular plant-based milk options sold at the business, although they typically have three-to-four such options for customers.
McComb said non-dairy ordering customers were not always interested in these options due to lactose intolerance, but sometimes chose them because they tasted better or different than traditional milk.
Despite the Iron Bank’s plant-based offerings, McComb reported she preferred whole milk in her coffee, or sometimes half-and-half creamer. She said that it was probably a 50/50 split between non-dairy and dairy ordering customers.
Savannah Brown, a storefront employee at Fountain City Coffee said their shop currently offers macadamia and oat milks as their dairy-free options. She reported many of their customers lean toward plant-based milks in their beverages, especially oat milk.
Despite being a fan of black coffee herself, Brown emphasized Fountain City was happy to offer alternative milk options for customers.
“We’re happy to serve it however they like,” Brown said.
At Bruster’s, a local ice cream chain, manager Margaret Foster told WRBL their locations have offered dairy-free options like Italian ices for years but introduced a coconut milk-based ice cream line about two years ago.
Foster explained they switched to using oat milk last year.
“It was just a better flavor,” she said.
Foster added that it seemed like there had been an increase of lactose intolerance within the community during recent years, but also stated she thought Bruster’s oat milk-based ice creams were a great option for a different flavor even for those without dietary restrictions.