The search for the best almond milk was a challenge. I hate what almond milk does to espresso. That watery, chalky nut milk never fully mixes with the luxurious, roast-y medicine I pull through the Marzocco in the BA Test Kitchen every morning. I used to be faced with a choice: I could use full-dairy milk in my iced espresso, which tasted incredible but had a habit of making my stomach…not happy, or I could use almond milk, which made my stomach happy but my taste buds fall asleep. Notice I’m using past tense here. I found a solution. That solution is an almond milk that demolishes the standards society has caged it in. Califia Barista Blend Almondmilk, I am talking about you.
The Barista Blend (or BB, as I affectionately call it) is not your average almond milk. What makes your average almond milk terrible is the fact that almonds aren’t the best nut. They’re fine. They’re good to snack on, sure, but they have minimal fat, a chalky texture, and a cardboard flavor. They’re not something you really want to drink. And when you do, almond milk separates in coffee, is impossible to steam (due to the very watery body), and lacks a backbone to stand up to the flavor of your beans. It ends up diluting your coffee. Which, when you’re five minutes out of bed, is not a good look.
BB addresses and champions all of these issues. It’s essentially Califia’s regular almond milk hyped up on a little thing called “thickeners.” The almond flavor is full and concentrated. It holds its consistency. And you can steam it. Successfully. Generally, soy and hemp are better non-dairy alternatives, if you’re looking for that creamy, frothy body that cappuccinos or cortados are known for. BB though? Even better. The adjustment of the ratio of binding agents in Califia’s regular almond milk, paired with the introduction of calcium carbonate (a healthy, naturally-occurring chemical compound) gives Barista Blend a structure that other almond milks lack.
And before you ask, yes, there’s sugar in here. And yes, BB is a little more expensive than regular almond milk (16 cents and ounce, compared to 13 cents an ounce, on average). But guess what. It’s absolutely worth the extra change. The sugar is low-key; it’s whispering sweet nothings into your ear. It feels personal. It feels professional. The name Barista Blend fits.
I’m not even a barista! This isn’t mine. It isn’t the Delany Blend. But I still feel like this almond milk was made for me. And it does give me a misplaced sense of professionalism or competence when it comes to coffee. If you catch me opening up a cold brew cart, playing Bon Iver, and misspelling people’s names on their cups, it’s not my fault. Barista Blend Almondmilk made me do it.
Next up, vegan horchata latte. Yes.