In a move welcomed by Hell’s Kitchen java fans, New York cafe Birch Coffee has announced that it is switching its default creamer from dairy to oat milk.

Matthew Connolly Birch Coffee
Barista Matthew Connolly taking an order at Birch Coffee on 9th Avenue yesterday. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“Beginning September 6, 2022 we are changing our default milk from Whole to Oat. As part of this change, there will no longer be any additional charge for any of our non-dairy milk options. Not to worry, you’ll still be able to get dairy milk, you’ll just have to ask for it. Furthermore, in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint and packaging waste we are partnering with Numilk This will allow us to prepare our (incredibly delicious) almond and oat milks fresh in-house,” read a statement on the company’s Instagram page. 

Reaction from heat-hardened New Yorkers, used to paying an extra dollar or two for their oat milk, was instantaneous. “I love this! I hope more coffee shops catch on to this,” commented one user, as another exclaimed, “Yesss this should be the industry standard.” Yet another added, “this is how you change the world.” Studies have shown that oat milk greatly reduces the greenhouse gases needed to produce other creamers, including traditional dairy milk (producing three times as many emissions as alternative milks) and almond milk (known for requiring more water than any other alternative creamer). 

Barista team Birch Coffee 9th Avenue
The team at Birch Coffee on 9th Avenue are ready to get their oatmilk game on from next week — Matthew Connolly, Denise Robinson and Cindy Jiminez. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“I’m a dairy milk person, but people are so excited that they are not going to be charged any more,” said West Side Birch barista Matthew Connolly.

Numilk, which manufactures plant-based milk machines and coordinated pouches, rose to fame after its founders appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, pitching successfully to billionaire Mark Cuban for a $2 million investment. The startup promises less carbon waste and a cleaner dairy alternative than store-bought plant-based milks, adding: “By shipping our raw ingredient pouches without the added weight of water, we avoid much of the carbon impact from traditional food distribution.”

Founded in 2009, Birch Coffee has quickly grown to become one of the city’s most-loved java pitstops, with locations across Manhattan (and in Hell’s Kitchen at W57th Street and 9th Avenue) and upcoming outposts at Moynihan Train Hall and the shiny new Terminal D in LaGuardia Airport. The company has long held a commitment to sustainability, choosing to purchase beans from smaller fair trade micro-farms with proven records of environmentally-sound harvesting practices

While it’s unclear if other New York coffee shops will follow suit and ditch dairy, it seems that the move by Birch may please recently arrested vegan protesters who have taken to supergluing their hands to Starbucks counters and encasing themselves in concrete blocks in opposition to alternative-milk up-charges. Perhaps everyone will be happier after a little caffeine…

Birch Coffee on 9th Avenue between W57/58th Street. Photo: Phil O’Brien

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  1. To be fair, for the prices they charge, you’re still “paying extra” for it when compared to other local spots.

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