Comune Co-Founder Brings Oat Milk Business to Life
When plant-based restaurant Comune launched in late 2018, it quickly shot to the top of the list of go-to spots for diners in Central Ohio. Not content to coast, Co-Owner Brook Maikut saw an opportunity to develop a new product that was missing from the food local ecosystem.
“I always am asking myself how can I do better as a human and how we can do better as a community,” explained Maikut. “One flaw in our local system I noticed was that there was no one making a local plant-based milk. Not even in the entire Midwest. Especially when the Midwest has some beautiful grains to showcase.”
From there, he decided to conceptualize what a small and sustainable Oat Milk company could look like and OAT was born.
Maikut says that his product differs from other companies in the production process, as he blends oats with Ohio maple syrup and salt after soaking them to round out the flavor.
“I put it through a double straining process to relieve it of some of the intense starches that oats can produce — no oil, so there’s no added fats,” he said. “Thats my original flavor, and from there I create my different flavors.”
Current flavors offered include chocolate, strawberry and peach with plans to add banana with cardamom, peanut butter, and something unique this fall known as “Spice”.
“That one is inspired by a recipe my neighbor’s grandmother would make for him in Ecuador,” said Maikut. “It’s similar to Horchata but definitely different, as he likes to remind me.”
The original plan for OAT was to launch in 2020 with products sold at local farmers markets, but with many shut down during the Coronavirus Pandemic, Maikut has taken a slow and steady approach with online orders and more limited event availability.
“This has given me time to really look at what this project could and should be, how it could supply our community with a great product, and all the ways I could make it an Eco-Centric based system,” added Maikut. “One that takes all beings and life systems into account.”
Some of the ways that OAT is committed to being eco-centric include the use of refillable glass bottles, biodegradable labels (coming soon), and spent oats being re-used at a local dog treat company.
“A percentage of OAT profits will always go to a group called Arc of Appalachia whom are dedicated to rewilding southern Ohio,” added Maikut. “I believe that with this community’s support we can rethink and rebuild our local food systems to be smarter and more sustainable. I believe people want products from people they know within their community and made from someone they know cares about them and their world.”