Dining Reviews

Sproud, Latest Alt-Milk Innovation, Comes to Coffee Cat

Coffee Cat surfs the point of non-dairy milk

Sproud is a milk alternative sourced from yellow peas and available in three versions at Coffee Cat. PHOTO: CHRISTINA WATERS

First there was Oatly. And now there’s Sproud, the latest alt-milk innovation. 

Trust the Swedes to pioneer a plant-based product that is sustainable and high-protein but actually tastes … good! (Our Nordic friends also came up with Oatly, so there’s some serious Earth-friendly tinkering going on up there.) 

Now available up at the Scotts Valley Coffee Cat, owned by Lulu Carpenter’s, Sproud makes low-carbon impact filled with high nutrition. Maybe that’s not what thing you’re thinking about when you crave that first latté of the day, but in the end a product like Sproud is on the forefront of the planet’s future. 

Ever the early adopter, Coffee Cat had three versions of the vegan pea protein-based milk available for me to sample along with its artisan coffees. These extraordinary and highly likeable non-dairy alt milks are sourced from yellow split peas—a major protein hit, low in carbs and takes 10 times less water to cultivate than almonds. There’s a chocolate variety, an unsweetened plain, and a very slightly sweetened highly foamable barista version. 

I haven’t used dairy milk or cow-sourced cream for years and have gotten used to the flavor of almond milk for my cereals. But Sproud won me over. Absolutely flavor neutral. Nope, it doesn’t taste like peas, which taste very mild anyway. And it doesn’t add any strange textural flavor spin of its own to the creamy silky richness of espresso the way that hazelnut milk can. (Sproud is very popular in European cafes, which unfortunately I haven’t been able to visit for a year!) 

The version I liked best in the Coffee Cat cappuccino was the version designed by and for baristas that makes an extra silky and frothy addition to lattés and other special espresso drinks. I also fancied a slab of house-made gluten-free pistachio cardamom tea cake ($3.25).

 No matter what milk you currently use in your espresso coffees, Sproud might persuade you to switch to this alt variety. Give it a try! You can even take home your own 33.8 ounce container of Sproud unsweetened plant-based milk for $4.49, up at Coffee Cat—and soon at all Lulu Carpenter’s fine coffee depots.  

Coffee Cat, 255 Mt. Hermon Road, Scotts Valley. 831-439-0700.

Alfaro Al Fresco

Check out the incomparable Corralitos springtime by visiting Alfaro Family Vineyards, open on Saturdays for tastings at generously spaced outdoor tables. Wine tasting from noon to 5pm includes 2018 Trout Gulch Chardonnay, 2018 Heirloom Clones Pinot Noir and 2017 Billy K Merlot. Fine wine and gorgeous atmosphere. Bring your mask! Make your reservation at 831-728-5172.

Laili Courtyard Opens

Ah the chutneys, the kabobs, the romantic atmosphere. Laili is now taking reservations for its courtyard nightly from 4-8pm. Wonderful news. 

Laili, 101B Cooper St., Santa Cruz. 831-423-4545.

Covid Coping Pro-Tip: Dining by Candlelight

Things are beginning to thaw. More outdoor restaurant dining is coming on line, just in time for warmer weather and dwindling patience. But in addition to regular takeout meals from many of our favorite Santa Cruz restaurants, we have kept things interesting during this year of quarantine

Dining by candlelight is not only something we think about, it’s what we do every single evening. Lighting candles to go with our playlist of Persian music and lots of Kate Bush has lifted our spirits and kindled our appetites throughout this long ordeal. This isn’t rocket science, simply an obvious and inexpensive way of keeping things in perspective. If you’re not dining by candlelight at your house, you’re missing a mood-inducing opportunity.

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