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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

DUG potato milk review: plant-based innovation at its finest

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We reviewed Veg of Lund’s DUG potato milk in all three varieties — Original, Unsweetened and Barista. Here’s what we thought.

Veg of Lund, the Swedish plant-based company, made waves last month with the unveiling of its newest innovation: potato milk. The DUG plant-based milks are everywhere and have inspired myriads of pun-filled headlines (guilty).

It’s the world’s first plant-based milk made from potatoes, and DUG claims it’s also amongst the most sustainable. It’s 56 times more water-efficient than almonds, and uses half as much land as oats. Additionally, it is free from the 14 most common allergens.

The range has three milks: Original, Unsweetened and Barista, and we taste-tested each in four suitable ways and reviewed them to see how they fare. Here’s what we thought.

DUG Barista

New barista milks are always interesting as there’s usually always something new and innovative shining through the product. The DUG barista has 9% potatoes and has a 3% fat content like whole milk.

The other ingredients are maltodextrin, pea protein, chicory fibre, rapeseed oil, fructose and sucrose for sweetening, calcium and vitamin supplements, emulsifiers, acidity regulators and natural flavouring.

What’s it like to drink DUG Barista plain?

dug potato milk baristaRight off the bat, this is the thickest plant-based milk I have ever encountered. It’s almost like single cream, even though it’s just 3% fat.

That thick consistency also contributes to the ultra-creaminess of the potato milk in its mouthfeel. It’s lightly sweet and has a buttery smoothness. This is quite pleasant to drink, especially for a barista milk, but it does feel very heavy as a result of the extra-dense texture.

4/5

Espresso-based drinks

dug potato milk coffeeDUG Barista doubles down on its acidity regulators with both di- and mono-sodium phosphates present in the ingredient list. It’s so thick, you wouldn’t think it would froth. But even as you heat it, it foams up and threatens to spill over faster than any other plant-based milk, so it needs careful handling.

I frothed this with a French Press, as most people don’t have professional espresso machines with steaming wands in their homes, and handheld frothers just create dry foam that doesn’t do anything to the milk’s texture. It’s hard to work with because of its thickness, but it foams up really well. While there are a few bubbles, most of them go away after a few light taps on the surface.

The foam holds incredibly well, and “creamy” is an understatement in terms of the texture. The flavour itself is incredible — for the most part. If you taste just the foam, you get some of that muted pea protein flavour in the background. But let it sit for a second and taste the drink as a whole, and everything balances out to make way for a very neutral milk that celebrates the coffee’s flavour notes.

But again, its spectacular thickness is also its downfall, as it tends to make for a quite heavy drink in the morning.

4.5/5

Cocktails

vegan white russianBecause it’s so dense, I just had to know how the DUG Barista potato milk would fare in a cocktail. Keeping the coffee theme going, I used it in a White Russian.

I shook the milk with a giant ice sphere in a cocktail shaker and the result was mind-blowing. The amount of foam generated is exactly what you look for in such a drink. It sits on top of the coffee wonderfully when poured, before slowly trickling down. When you stir it, the foam settles down more quickly, but leaves a thin head on top.

Initially, the milk has a stronger flavour but after stirring, the whole cocktail comes together and tastes delicious. The potato milk happily harmonises with the other ingredients, elevating their flavours and balancing everything out, so that nothing overpowers the cocktail.

5/5

Cold brew

barista potato milkI had to try this in some form of iced coffee — and cold brew is my go-to. And boy, was this good.

The flavour of the potato milk is very neutral here and it complements the coffee wonderfully. The milk doesn’t dominate the coffee, nor does it let any bitterness overpower the whole drink.

Again, the texture is creamy, but unlike in the other tests, not as excessively so. There’s a hint of sweetness that helps balance out the natural bitterness of the coffee, but it’s muted so that the whole drink isn’t too sweet.

5/5

Read our ultimate showdown of the best barista milks in the UK.

DUG Original

The Original DUG potato milk has a 1.5% fat content, making it similar to semi-skimmed milk in texture. This is the only milk in the lineup to have 6% potatoes, with an otherwise identical ingredient list to the Barosta version, albeit with different quantities of certain ingredients.

What’s it like to drink DUG Original plain?

dug potato milk originalIt’s quite pale in colour, similar to most plant-based milks. When pouring, you can see this is light in fat with its consistency.

Upon tasting, there’s a balanced sweetness to this, as well as a hint of acidity too in the first sip, with an aftertaste resembling raw white flour. But as you drink it, it becomes more neutral and the sweetness provides a nice contrast.

However, the pea protein lends a distinct flavour in the background, which is slightly off-putting.

3.5/5

Pancakes

veg of lundWith this test, I wanted to see if this could turn into a buttermilk-like liquid for fluffy pancakes. The DUG Original milk doesn’t split when you add apple cider vinegar to it, which validates the presence of the acidity regulator. But that also means you can’t make buttermilk out of this. However, as it sits, you can see some degassing happening, with tiny bubbles popping up.

The resulting pancakes are super fluffy, with a little savouriness and some wonderful buttery notes headlining the flavour. The sugar in this sweetened version doesn’t really come through, though.

4.5/5

Cereal

unsweetened potato milkThe flavour of the sweetened potato milk — and the pea protein — in a chocolate cereal is quite strong, even after some of the cereal’s flavour seeps into it.

It takes on a nice colour and doesn’t taste either artificially or overly sweet, unlike many plant-based milks. It acts as a good vessel for the cereal and doesn’t let it get too soggy very quickly either.

4/5

Cold brew

potato coffeeAlong with drinking plain, cold brew was the only other common test for all three milks, as they all have acidity regulators, which means that, in theory, they won’t split or curdle when added to coffee. I didn’t think it was fair to test the non-barista versions of the DUG potato milk in espresso-based drinks, just because there’s no guarantee they would froth up.

With the Original milk, there’s a very delicate hint of sweetness from the fructose and sucrose. This is visibly weaker and thinner in texture than the rest.

The flavour of the coffee is more prominent than the milk — as it should be. The plant-based milk complements it well and weirdly, has a slight almondy flavour. It’s pretty pleasant, but quite diluted and not milky enough.

3/5

DUG Unsweetened

DUG’s Unsweetened potato milk is a 3% plant-based milk with a 9% potato content — just like the Barista edition. The ingredient list is quite stripped down compared to the other two milks, with no maltodextrin, chicory fibre, sucrose or fructose.

What’s it like to drink DUG Unsweetened plain?

dug potato milk unsweetenedThis is quite thick — not as much as the barista edition but certainly more than the Original sweetened potato milk. As plant-based milks go, this does resemble whole milk, and it’s the whitest out of the three in the lineup.

It tastes like a muted hemp milk, with that pancake batter-like aftertaste. The milk has a thick mouthfeel and coats your mouth. As you taste it, the floury notes make way for a more neutral flavour with the slightest hint of that hemp, which is quite pleasant.

However, the pea protein still lurks in the background and dampens the experience.

3.5/5

Béchamel

potato bechamelSince this is unsweetened, testing it in savoury recipes was a must. I made a béchamel-based white sauce for a pasta dish to see how this fared, similar to a test I did for oat milks last year.

It was such an experience. The milk thickens quickly and mixes in really well with the roux, and it doesn’t spit or splig when hitting the hot, which is a great sign.

The DUG potato milk makes for a great béchamel; it clings to the pasta really well and that floury flavour aids the flavour of the sauce itself. And the mostly neutral notes ensure that the aromatics and other components are the heroes in the dish.

5/5

Read our ultimate showdown of the best oat milks in the UK in 2020.

Oatmeal

potato milk reviewTrying out an unsweetened milk in oatmeal seemed more suitable as it would help identify the flavors better. And I’m so glad I did.

Potato milk porridge is wonderfully thick and creamy and slightly savoury, which is very pleasant. The gelatinisation of the oats works well with the fat content of the DUG Unsweetened milk, and it all comes together very quickly.

It tastes remarkably like dairy on its own, and that flavour is only enhanced and elevated when you add some toppings. It’s probably the best-tasting porridge I’ve ever had with plant-based milk.

5/5

Cold Brew

dug potato milk ukThe milk is so thick that it foams up considerably even when you’re shaking it in the packaging. It also means that it needs a stir to settle and incorporate properly in the cold brew.

A faint hint of that hemp flavour comes through in what is a largely nutty profile. It doesn’t take over the coffee but does highlight a little bit of its bitterness.

Even though it’s creamy in texture, the flavour doesn’t reflect that all the way through. And there’s no natural sweetness, which would turn this into an even more flavourful drink.

3.5/5

Verdict

Do the DUG plant-based milks taste like potatoes? No. Do they taste great? 100%. These surprised me to my core — they’re all very versatile and perform brilliantly in most applications.

The only major downfall is that pea protein flavour — tone that down and this will be many people’s new favourite milk. It’s currently in talks with retailer to get stocked, but you can still buy them online, with the cheapest price being £1.99 for each 1-litre milk, and a six-pack costing £12.50.

That’s not a bad price point for a product of this quality. It’s generated a lot of buzz in both vegan and major media outlets — it warrants all that. The DUG potato milks seem to be heading straight to the upper echelon of plant-based milk products.

The DUG potato milks are available for purchase on DUG’s website, Navesu and Amazon.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.