Pour a little camel milk into your next cup of coffee and discover the creamy goodness of the ‘white gold’ alternative to cow’s milk. By Naina Atri
The 21st-century hunt for the next best ‘superfood’ has produced some interesting finds, from cricket flour, as in the actual insect, to pearl powder made of boiled and crushed saltwater pearls. While it may be hard to distinguish between actual benefits and just plain old marketing hype, there is one superfood that deserves attention — camel milk.
Camel milk isn’t a new find and has been a staple in many African, Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Nomadic African tribes have been consuming milk for its nutritional benefits for thousands of years. With higher quantities of Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium, camel milk is a nutrient-dense alternative to cow’s milk, albeit more expensive. But there are even more benefits that add to the allure of this ‘white gold’ — it is better suited to those who are lactose-intolerant and is even low fat, with a higher concentration of healthy fats that help control cholesterol levels. Camel-rearing is also said to be far more sustainable and is being heralded as the future of climate change.
The erstwhile traditional milk is now finding its way to trendy cafés all over the world. The Kulan Café in Nairobi, Kenya, is one of many that has included camel milk into its menu – from camel cappuccino to a camel pizza. For many, camel coffee taps into the nostalgia of the Somali culture.
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Like in Kenya, traditions are being modernised in the United Arab Emirates as well. In 2013, the British coffee chain, Costa Coffee, became the first international chain to offer camel milk as an alternative to cow’s milk at its UAE locations. The brand had also launched the Strawberry Camel Milk Cooler – a blend of fresh camel milk, strawberry and vanilla. In Abu Dhabi, the Ritz-Carlton, in that same year, hired a ‘camel milk mixologist’ to make camel milk non-alcoholic cocktails for Ramadan.
For many, camel coffees are an exciting novelty. In 2016, an Australian café called The Glasshouse Grind hit the coffee scene with its ‘camelccino’, a white camel milk cappuccino. The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, Scotland introduced the ‘camelccino’ in its menu in 2019. The larger goal of the addition was to raise funds for female Kenyan camel milk traders.
The first #camelccino in Scotland!
Head to the @willowtearooms today to get yours, and support our work in #Kenya. #CamelMilk #coffee #Glasgow pic.twitter.com/qODvmrxMLj
— Mercy Corps – Europe (@mercycorps_uk) May 29, 2019
A UAE-based company, Camelicious, introduced a powder version in the USA, which hit Walmart’s virtual shelves in 2021. The powdered milk has gained popularity amongst health enthusiasts and those who struggle with the heaviness of cow’s milk.
So, while some caution is advised when judging ‘trendy superfoods’ when it comes to camel milk, there is centuries-old traditions and modern research that’ll make you feel at ease as you pour some white gold in your next cup of coffee.