The rise of plant-based dairy alternatives has crept into the mainstream and influenced brand launches. That’s the case with Rise Brewing, a New York-based coffee company that specializes in canned nitro cold brew coffee.
Since launching, Rise has come out with unique coffee flavors like lemonade and blood orange, but now the company has turned its attention to a new line of lattes.
Rise operates two cafe locations in New York City that it uses as flavor innovation labs, and the team observed a spike in demand for non-dairy drinks.
Melissa Kalimov, COO of Rise, told DairyReporter, “Not only was there a huge leaning toward non-dairy--more than half of the people asking for a milk in their coffee were asking for non-dairy--but oat was starting to take the lead of non-dairy options that people asked for.”
Rise took this and ran with it, developing its new RTD drinks in Oat Milk Latte and Mocha Latte, which is made with the oat beverage. There is also a third latte in the line called Classic Latte that is made with traditional dairy creamer.
According to Kalimov, the team did not take the dairy versus non-dairy debate lightly. And after agreeing that both options offered a different taste, they decided that incorporating both into the launch was the best choice.
Grant Gyesky, CEO and co-founder of Rise, told DairyReporter, “If we thought that there was any sacrifice by using a dairy alternative than to what the dairy equivalent would have been, then we probably wouldn’t have launched it. But we think the oat milk latte, or oat milk in general, is a better tasting pairing with coffee than perhaps dairy milk is.”
But it wasn’t easy to land on oats as their plant-based source. Even though it was popular among customers, Gyesky and the team still tested out several other options like almond, cashew and soy before concluding that oats were the best choice.
Following the decision, Rise struggled with sourcing an oat-based product that was up to their standards. The company places a strong emphasis on organic ingredients and sustainable sourcing, and the market for oats as a dairy alternative just isn’t expansive enough in the US.
“When we went to market to find an oat milk to use in the latte, there were no organic oat milks that we were able to source,” Gyesky said.
Instead they developed their own. They get oats from a farm in Finland as northern Europe is a few years ahead of the curve in using plant-based non-dairy drinks like oat. Rise also incorporates sunflower oil from France to balance the texture and uses sugar from Colombia.
Gyesky likens it to the way people view coffee in general as a very local product in terms of drinking at local coffee shops, while it’s actually internationally produced.
“We wanted to celebrate the fact that you’re already bringing ingredients in from very remote parts of the world [for coffee], so what if you’re able to deliver in a single can the very best ingredients? It’s a unique product to be able to do that,” he said.
Gyesky and Kalimov anticipate Rise continuing to innovate using both plant-based non-dairy and traditional dairy in their products, as consumers respond well to both. They are also considering a standalone launch of the oat beverage used in the new lattes to sell to other beverage entrepreneurs and consumers as its own high-quality ingredient.
The Rise latte line debuted September 15 and can be in retail chains like Whole Foods and Safeway, as well as online on Amazon and the Rise website.