Preview #2 - Alternatives As The Regular
Next in our unofficial countdown to London Coffee Festival 2023 we wander through the alternative m*lk and soft drink carts. Whilst separate beverage types in their own right, we often find there are overlapping similarities here, and so for this we’ve merged the two and split into two parts. Tasty, healthy, fresh to impress.
As we mention, we won’t be exhibiting at the event this year, but all our team will be visiting in search for the latest in speciality coffee, meeting up with all our partner roasters and saying hey to all our good friends within the industry. To all those GUSTATORY coffee subscribers who are baristas and coffee roasters yourselves, maybe see you there over one of the Industry days? Now, onto our favourite alternative m*lk and soft drinks brands we think are worth visiting, many of which pair wonderfully with speciality coffee. Naturally
Chai Guys Chai
Think Masala, think taste, the art of chai. Meet Gabriel and Abhilash, the co-founders of Chai Guys, first meeting as new recruits at a large consultancy. Both were obsessed with food and flavours, and in particular those from India. Gabriel had lived in New Delhi as a child and Abhilash’s heritage is Indian. The guys started exploring London’s exciting Indian food scene, going to a new restaurant in the city most Friday evenings. The food was good but there was something missing: authentic Indian Chai given the sugar-filled Chai tea lattes that were on offer all a poor substitute. First came the pilgrimage to the streets of Delhi in search of the perfect Chai, talking to chaiwallahs and tea growers, and then returning home with suitcases filled with tea leaves and their minds full of dreams, next came the hard work.
It took eight months but by the spring of 2019 the Chai Guys had their recipes and branding nailed. The menu included the traditional Masala Chai, Kadak Chai and Kashmiri Chai but with a Chai Guys twist – exceptionally fresh spices and a precise method for brewing. As those from London will know, Brick Lane is known as a hub for South Asian restaurants, no better place to test the Chai Guys concept. In May 2019 Chai Guys opened for business and the distinctive branding made them stand out with their theatrical and traditional sales technique pouring the Chai from a height stopped customers in their tracks. But it was the incredible and authentic taste of the Chai that made them a success. Two months later, in July 2019, they moved into Shoreditch’s prestigious Spitalfields Market and two months after that they opened near Victoria Station. Chai Guys was up and running and today, absolutely worth a mention by GUSTATORY as worth passing by on your London Coffee Festival 2023 visit. You guessed it, chai pairs lovely with speciality coffee.
Like all great and wonderful things in life, MOMO started with an adventure. Their founders, Josh and Lisa, discovered kombucha back in 2016 while on a trip to the Big Apple. Drinking kombucha made them feel amazing, and so on return to London, they started homebrewing kombucha in their kitchen, falling in love with the process. Jobs were soon quit and diving headfirst into their dream of producing the UK’s tastiest and highest quality kombucha, MOMO Kombucha was born.
Starting MOMO was their way of living healthier, more connected lives. From the beginning the founders have made kombucha the old-fashioned, homemade way: in a small glass jar. It means they're able to produce the tastiest and highest quality kombucha, all of which is brewed and bottled from their London brewery. Completely unfiltered for a fuller depth of flavour as well as always organic, these make MOMO Kombucha better for you and better for the environment. Whilst it might not be the easiest way for them to make their kombucha, they claim it is all worth it - we agree, enjoying their kombucha several times before, its hats off from GUSTATORY for their manufacturing process; admirable really.
Sproud Pea Alternative M*lk
True or false, pea m*lk has 3 times more protein than oat m*lk, and equally, do all alternative m*lks taste as good as one another? Peas, peas, glorious peas.
Some may say pea m*lk is the healthiest, tastiest and most sustainable plant-based dairy product, and with a manufacturing process that boasts emitting less carbon dioxide than dairy, oat, almond and soy, they may just be right. And so, no dairy, no nuts, no gluten, no soy, no problems - great. Crafted for coffee, a natural pairing for GUSTATORY's multi-roaster coffee subscriptions, Sproud's peak m*lk makes for a creamy texture and silky microfoam - double great. A source of high quality protein, naturally light on the sweet sugary stuff and 100% vegan, all that goes into Sproud are pea proteins, healthy oils and fresh water.
And then comes the mic drop. Sproud are the first food brand in the world to receive ISO 26 000 verification for its sustainability work. Fairly recently, on March 29th 2023, Sproud became verified according to the ISO 26 000 standards, with this verification further evidence of the company’s commitment to maximize its contribution towards sustainable development. That's us sold.
Lemonade’s a favourite of all ours, right? Great on a hot Summer’s day, made even greater when made for a good cause. Made, made, Lemonaid.
Manufacturers of soft drinks how they should be, containing only the best organic ingredients and supporters of fair trade. So far, so delicious. But it’s not just the desire to slake your thirst with delicious soft drinks that drives Lemonaid. The brand, also owners of ChariTea, began as a project to incite and shape the process of social change. Lemonaid want to make a small contribution with each bottle, want to change the world drink by drink - a little, at least. Beyond Fairtrade, every bottle purchased supports the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation and so far, Lemonaid have raised more than £7,000,000 which the organisation can now put to good use for a variety of social projects in the growing regions.
Fairtrade-certified and packed only with organic ingredients, Lemonaid pay higher prices for their raw ingredients and, in doing so, support fair, dignified farming. With the Fairtrade premium, local farmers can afford to make improvements to their own living conditions and implement community projects within their area. Lemonaid also don’t just rely on international certificates and quality seals, with the brand regularly wanting to see for themselves exactly where the ingredients come from and know the hidden stories behind them. Every year, they travel to the farming regions to get to know the local farmers and their working conditions. Dedicated to their charity, it's a thumbs up from us at GUSTATORY.
Rude Health Alternative M*lk
With almost as many drinks awards as there are days in a month, it would be rude not to share Rude Health's good work. Starting - as ever with a humble journey - around Nick and Camilla Barnard’s kitchen table in 2005 with Ultimate Muesli, now Rude Health can be found in fridges and cupboards all over the world with a range bigger than ever yet remaining true to their original approach - quality ingredients, nothing artificial, nothing refined.
Championing real flavour over restraints and restrictions, whatever brings you joy, run with it. That thing that makes you want to shout “more!”– dive into it. Brights on a black-and-white day, cycling in the rain, extra-frothy speciality coffees with rich almond and creamy coconut, gobble it all up. As Rude Health advocates, life tastes better when you live your bright way and you’re in rude health when you shine from the inside out. A B-corp brand with 23 Great Taste awards to their name, pop on by to Rude Health at London Coffee Festival 2023, it would be rude not to.
That's it, our five alternative m*lks and soft drinks brands we're keen to visit ourselves. Even if you're not one to currently enjoy any of the above beverage types, we hope you found this useful in opening an eye to the beverage possibilities out there. Or, maybe you do drink alternative m*lk, yet just learnt of an even better alternative - you're welcome. Either or, that's our latest London Coffee Festival 2023 preview complete, keep an eye out on our social media or check back in our School & Insights for tomorrow's edition.
GUSTATORY (adjective): curating excellence in taste.