At the recent National Restaurant Association Show, I got a chance to chat with Mika Manninen, who in the role of “Chief Oat Optimist” is the creator of the OatShake line of products from Simpli. Winner of NRA’s Innovative Product Award, as well as BevNET’s Best of 2011 award for “Best Smoothie or Meal Replacement,” I aimed to discover what all the fuss was about.
When you break it down, OatShake is a dairy-free shake, made from rolled oats. Sounds crazy, right? A shake from oats? Mix in some water and cocoa powder, and you end up with a pretty awesome tasting chocolate milk-like product! Who doesn’t like chocolate milk?
Mr. Manninen started his story by telling me that he unfortunately could not drink dairy due to lactose intolerance, so he had long been looking for good-tasting alternatives, spending time with soy, etc. However, back in Finland, where OatShake is produced, they started experimenting with using “sustainably farmed and harvested aromatic whole oats” to create an alternative, and I’d say they succeeded.
The flagship product, OatShake Chocolate, comes in a 8.45 oz Tetra Pak, with the packaging design crafted by his wife. The drink is dark brown, just like a chocolate shake, with the scent similar to opening a can of Hershey’s Cocoa Powder.
The flavor isn’t too sweet (like, for example, Crave), but it’s definitely chocolaty and bold. The aftertaste is slightly different from chocolate milk, in that it doesn’t have a dairy feel, but rather more of a “I just ate some crackers” type taste, with a bit of chalkiness. That may sound gross, but in reality, it’s not a big deal. It’s hard to believe that this isn’t a dairy product. Overall, it’s quite awesome!
Water, oat flakes, sugar, cocoa powder, rapeseed oil, tricalcium phosphate, carrageeenan, gellan gum, salt, Vitamin D.
A 8.45 oz Tetra Pak box contains 120 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (1 g dietary fiber, 20 g sugars), and 2 g protein.
This drink is being positioned as not only a dairy alternative, but also something to quench food cravings, or even after exercise. Made in Finland, it’s free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), high fructose corn syrup, and lactose. Yum!
But wait, we’re not done. Time to open up a box of OatShake Coffee. Take the successful blend from the Chocolate flavor, but this time add coffee powder and “natural coffee flavors”. Now, it should be known that I’m not the greatest coffee enthusiast, but I really thought this stuff tasted pretty good. My wife, on the other hand, is a coffee fan, and she enjoyed the flavor quite a bit. Perhaps it was a tad on the weaker coffee side; it tasted more like a coffee blend with a lot of cream and sugar added.
This beverage was lighter brown in color, with a slight hint of coffee scent. The overall taste was creamy, sweet, and with just the right amount of coffee flavor, in my opinion. Die hard coffee drinkers may disagree. You’ll also get a slight boost from the 25 mg of caffeine in the product, which breaks down to about 3.0 mg/oz, which is slightly less than what you’ll find in Pepsi or Coke.
Water, oats, sugar, oat betaglucan, coffee powder, tricalcium phosphate, salt, glean gum, natural coffee flavors, carrageeenan, Vitamin D.
A 8.45 oz Tetra Pak box contains 120 calories, 1 g fat, 130 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (2 g dietary fiber, 16 g sugars), and 3 g protein. Caffeine content 3.0 mg/oz.
Finally, we taste the last of the currently available flavors, OatShake Tropical Fruits. Unlike Chocolate and Coffee, this is quite a different type of drink. The Tropical Fruits entry is more on par with a smoothie, rather than a shake, as it contains not only oats, but also pears, oranges, and passion fruits. The color is milky white, with a hint of yellowish tint. The scent starts like a strong orange juice, but mellows.
Right away, you notice this is quite different from the Chocolate and Coffee flavors. It feels less heavy, more fruity. (Duh, the flavor is “Tropical Fruits”… go figure!) One of the selling attributes with this flavor is the 8 g of fiber. You don’t notice the oat base at all with this flavor, either. It tastes like a traditional smoothie, to be honest. The orange is one of the stronger flavors that comes through, though other fruits provide a balance that takes the edge off the citrus. It’s an OK blend; nothing amazing, but nothing horrible either. If you can’t tell, I’m more of a fan of the Chocolate and Coffee flavors.
Water, oat flakes, oranges, pears, passion fruits, sugar, polydextrose, pectin, tricalcium phosphate, Vitamin C, Vitamin D.
A 8.45 oz Tetra Pak box contains 160 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (8 g dietary fiber, 23 g sugars), and 2 g protein. Caffeine free.
Overall, it’s nice to see a high quality product with pure ingredients that tastes so good. Granted, these drinks are a bit on the pricy side, with a suggested retail of $2.39 per box. Here’s hoping customers seek out quality before someone like Quaker Oats comes up with a cheaper knock-off version with lesser ingredients. I love the fact that these are oat-based products, yet taste so incredible. They are worth tracking down and supporting, because everyone should have a chance to drink the awesome!
Official Website: LiveSimpli.com
Full Disclosure: This beverages were provided compliments of Simpli