It's the last call for soy at Four Barrel. In the next week, the café and roastery will strike soy milk in favor of almond milk as their non-dairy option. We anticipated the change might have been a reaction to customer demand, but after talking with Jeremy Tooker, owner of Four Barrel, we discovered the choice was a broadly ethical one. Tooker reminded us that, politically and nutritionally, soy's got nothing on almond milk.
"Honestly, I never really understood the soy phenomenon. It's not that good for you, unless it's fermented, and you've got this whole GMO problem behind it," he says.
Soy used to be considered the healthy "hippie milk," an alternative that was kinder to the body and land. But studies in the last 15 years have called it into question. Attacks on soy have highlighted suspect agricultural practices such as slash-and-burn farming, the clearing of rainforests, and genetic manipulation of the seeds. Soy is a problem even closer to home, too — any barista will tell you the milk is a notoriously fickle beast under the steaming wand. Happily for folks behind the machine, almond milk should smooth out the issue.
But most importantly, "almond milk just tastes way better. It's delicious," says Tooker. Four Barrel is still experimenting with a few brands of almond milk, considering such factors as the compatibility of the milk's emulsifier and taste with coffee, as well as the practicality and waste of packaging. Four Barrel is not the first coffee venue to make the switch, but it is certainly the first local roasting company to do so. Tooker tells us that the roastery would love to make its own almond milk, like Farm:Table, but the resources required are unavailable for now.
Lastly, we're curious. Will soy lovers be angry? Will there be soy riots?
"I don't think so. I'm sure that some soy fanatics will come out of the woodwork, but I don't think we'll have much of a problem," says Tooker.
Soy milk, out.