Wednesday afternoon, the Sharpe Refectory will begin offering a line of locally produced plant-based milks.
The new milk dispenser will feature oat, coconut, almond and chocolate pea milk from Uproot: Plant-Based Milk, a company founded by Kevin Eve ’18 and Philip Mathieu ’17. Brown’s Office of Sustainability announced the new line of milks in a Facebook post in which they heralded the company’s environmental efforts, writing, “Uproot’s milks are sustainable, generating fewer greenhouse gases, requiring less water and using 56 percent less packaging waste than (their) dairy counterparts.”
Uproot notes on its website that plant-based milks lead to an average of “80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and require 77 percent less water to produce compared to dairy milk.” In addition, the dispenser eliminates the need for individual cartons or bottles, reducing waste by 1000 pounds per year.
The company is unique because each milk is dispensed from concentrate, Eve said. Unlike juice served from concentrate, water is not removed, but added to create the creamy milks that are now available to add to a cup of the Ratty’s signature Rwanda coffee, or a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
While Cricket McNally ’22, who is vegan, says that the University generally offers a significant number of vegan options in the dining halls, she has eagerly anticipated the addition of the Uproot milks to the Ratty. “I am so excited,” McNally said. “I don’t really like putting soy milk in my coffee, I’d rather put almond milk. And almond milk is also better in cereal.”
Eve and Mathieu founded the company last year, after working together extensively on the Brown Formula Racing team. Throughout their time on the team, “we had talked about building something or starting a company,” Eve said.
“The company came out of Philip’s and my passion to build something, and then inspiration from this love for plant-based milk and engineering innovation,” Eve said.
Inspired by his own dairy allergy and an internship with SharkNinja, a cleaning and kitchen appliance company, Eve decided “to make a company that could increase the sustainability of plant-based milks by dispensing them from concentrate.” From there, Uproot: Plant-Based Milk was born.
“I formulated all of the recipes pretty much myself, in my apartment mixing them up during the fall, which was a lot of fun,” Eve said. Eve and Mathieu taste-tested each recipe, bringing their products to student gatherings to elicit feedback. “We eventually arrived at some plant milks that taste great,” Eve said.
Plant-based milks have taken off in grocery stores and coffee shops globally. The New York Times recently chronicled “The Humble Ascent of Oat Milk” last January, and the milk-substitute was introduced to five U.S. Starbucks locations earlier this month, joining the ranks of soy, almond and coconut.
Uproot decided to add chocolate pea milk alongside their more recognizable offerings because “peas have a lot of protein, so you can have a beverage that is sweet and chocolatey, but also has six grams of protein,” Eve said.
“One of the things that we would love to do is make plant-based milks that are so good that people will start choosing them over dairy,” he added.
The Ratty’s Uproot milk dispenser will mark the company’s first installation. Eve and Mathieu have held testing events at Salve Regina University and Johnson and Wales University. Moving forward, Eve said they hope “to expand to at least one other college in the Providence area, as well as start selling to coffee shops, restaurants and other food services.”