Vegan caffeine-lovers can rejoice, as Costa Coffee is officially trialing an entirely plant-based self-serve machine in the UK.
The British chain confirmed to Plant Based News (PBN) that it has launched a Costa Express machine that serves only oat milk in Buckinghamshire.
“Costa Coffee is committed to providing our customers with more choice when it comes to drink customization,” a spokesperson told PBN.
“We offer a range of milk alternatives across our stores including coconut, oat, almond, and soya, and keen to ensure that our on-the-go customers also have the chance to opt for a milk alternative in their favorite Costa coffee.”
The oat milk is available at their self-serve at a Shell site in Beaconsfield (postcode: HP9 2SE). Costa told PBN that it is currently unable to share further information on plans to roll it out across the UK.
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The rise of plant-based milk
Plant-based milk has seen a staggering rise in popularity in recent years.
According to a 2020 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) survey in the UK, milk consumption has dropped 50 percent since 1974.
In May of this year, it was reported that half of Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) feel shame around ordering dairy.
The study found that, while most of the respondents did drink dairy milk, more than half intended to give it up in the next year.
The rise in dairy-free milk can largely be attributed to the rise of veganism, as well as greater awareness of the ethical and environmental costs of the dairy industry.
Animal welfare in the dairy industry
Cows raised on dairy farms must give birth in order to produce milk, and they will generally have their calves taken from them within hours. They will often cry out in apparent distress for days afterwards.
Dairy cows have also been selectively bred to produce 4.5 times more milk than they naturally would, meaning they often suffer from mastitis, a painful bladder inflammation.
When their bodies are too worn out to produce milk, they will be sent to the slaughterhouse.
While the public tend to associate cows with fields, a growing number are factory farmed in the UK. It is thought that around 20 percent will be raised in intensive barns and never see the outside.
The environmental costs of dairy
Animal agriculture is terrible for the environment, and contributes to at least 14.5 percent of global emissions.
Cow farming is a particularly significant contributor to the climate crisis, as the animals are responsible for around a third of the world’s methane emissions.
A recent assessment from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) found that cutting methane emissions would be “key in the battle against climate change.” It cited agriculture as the “predominant source.”
The oat milk Costa Express machine can be found at Shell, Beaconsfield Services, M40 J2, Hedgerley Lane, Beaconsfield, HP9 2SE.