BREAKING: It's the last call for soy at Four Barrel. In the next two weeks, café/roastery will be striking 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," said Tooker.
If we're talking about GMO's, this seems an especially poignant time to make the switch -- in view of the approaching vote on California's Prop 37. Soy used to be considered the healthy "hippie milk," an alternative that was kinder to the body and land. But studies in the last fifteen 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 they are certainly the first roasting company around town to do so. Tooker tells us that the roastery would love to make their own almond milk, like Farm:Table does, 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," said Tooker. We, for one, are pretty excited.
Soy milk, out.