Oat M*lk Revolution: Q + A with Jonathan Chiu from Minor Figures
WRITTEN BY Coffee Supreme
27 November 2018

Soy, almond, oat... Whether for health issues, animal welfare or the future of the planet, plant based foods and ‘alt-milks’ have never been more popular. For us, at Coffee Supreme, that meant partnering with the best alternative milk we could find. And we think we have found it in Minor Figures Oat Milk.

Minor Figures Oat Milk is developed by baristas, for baristas. The flavour of Minor Figures Oat Milk enhances the taste of the espresso, has neither the sweetness of soy which causes burning and lumpy texture, nor bitterness of almond, and it steams as easily as cow milk.

Minor Figures began life in the UK, founded by two Aussies and a Brit who were keen to develop an coffee-friendly milk from a sustainable crop. Earlier this year, co-founder Jonathan Chiu headed back to his home town of Melbourne and is now leading the charge on Oat Milk sales there.

We sat down with Jonathan to find out all we could about this Alt Milk revolution...

Q + A with Jonathan Chiu, Co-founder, Minor Figures

What is your role at Minor Figures? How long have you been there?
I am one of the founders of Minor Figures. We started the business in London four years ago. Two of the three founders are Australian so when we decided to open a second office, Melbourne was the obvious choice. I moved back to Melbourne to open and run that office.

What is Minor Figures and where are you based?
Our base and (coffee) brewery is in Hackney Wick in London and we have an office in Melbourne. Our products include Nitro Cold Brew Coffee, Barista Oat Milk, Chai and CBD Oil (Post Coffee Drops).

Where did the name 'Minor Figures' come from?
Minor Figures was inspired by a Biggie Smalls lyric. Our Minor Figures feature on our packaging. They are Lenny, Bruno, Hitoshi, Penelope and Willow. Everyday people doing their thing.

Why Oat Milk? Was there a lightbulb moment that sparked it?
In 2017 we changed our cold brew coffee range to be all non-dairy. Oat Milk was the best non-dairy milk for taste and texture, that we tested with our cold brew. With a few tweaks we were able to get the oat milk to steam perfectly without the need for gums and acidity regulators and taste amazing with hot coffee. Soon enough we had a Barista Oat Milk ready to go.

What’s been the biggest challenge Minor Figures has faced and how have you overcome it - or are working to overcome it?
We are often first or early in market with new products. Two recent examples in Australia and NZ are our Nitro Cold Brews and Barista Oat Milk. Being first has its benefits as well as fair share of hard yards and heavy lifting. Partnering with respected and forward thinking businesses in each market has been key in launching well.

Is there someone/something emerging in the industry that you're keeping an eye on?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, for sure. We have just launched our CBD oil 'Post-Coffee Drops'. This is a big toe in the water as we feel that CBD in drinks could be the next big thing.

Do you have a favourite cafe?
Got to be the Abbotsford Club

What’s your morning routine?
Morning routine is mayhem. The negotiating skills required in the morning with my two kids dwarves anything that is thrown at me during my work day. Espresso to start the day and then filter in the office.

And finally, if Minor Figures was a car... What would it be and why?
Something cruisey. Window down, warm breeze.

How to purchase Minor Figures Oat M*lk

If you would like to purchase wholesale for your cafe in Australia or New Zealand, visit the contact page here. We'd love to hear from you!

You can find Minor Figures Oat Milk for retail purchase in New Zealand here and in Australia here.

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