A Sri Lankan American Perspective on the Turmeric Latte Trend
Turmeric got its mainstream western rebrand as a trending beverage of 2016. Around 2017 and 2018, turmeric lattes were at small and large coffee shops alike. There were so many new non-South Asian-owned turmeric wellness products hitting the market. Advertisements for turmeric lattes depicted instagram-able yellow lattes, honeyed rivers, and liquid gold. Here at Kola Goodies, we’ve been thinking about the conversations around the trend and what led us to create our Turmeric Latte.
The Marketing Behind Golden Milk Lattes
When we search ‘turmeric latte’ on Google, we notice that western outlets and coffee shop press releases emphasize words like ‘wellness’, ‘warmth’, ‘anti-inflammatory’, and ‘aromatic’ — all true. It’s called anything from ‘golden milk latte’, to ‘moon milk’. We noticed that advertisements and in-house articles by coffee companies rarely mention its South Asian origin. The way headlines are phrased, like “jumping on the bandwagon” or “a golden twist to your latte”, or “Have you heard of turmeric?” adds to that hip-and-happening and sensationalized feeling of the western golden milk latte. As if we haven’t used it for thousands of years. It’s positioned as something you need to drink now because everyone is drinking it. We’ve seen this happen with so many other trends with cultural roots that are rediscovered from people outside their culture of origin.
How We Created Kola Goodies Turmeric Latte
Our founder Sajani recalls, “Growing up in Sri Lanka, my family would put turmeric in everything we’d eat or use it as a face mask. Even if a recipe didn’t require turmeric, my mom would put it in because it kills bacteria.” Turmeric was a key ingredient in the concoctions she would drink at the first sign of a cold, because of its immunity-boosting property. This was always in the back of Sajani’s mind when she started Kola Goodies.
What made us launch our Turmeric Latte was the fact that it’s such a South Asian ritual. It might look different across South Asian countries or cultures, but turmeric as an immunity drink has been such a commonality for us, South Asians, growing up. Our Turmeric Latte is the first Sri Lankan turmeric latte product and among the first South Asian-American turmeric products on the market. Sourcing our turmeric directly from Sri Lankan farmers was so important for us, despite a turmeric shortage that has increased its price significantly in Sri Lanka.
We wanted the Turmeric Latte to be a yummy treat that is also good for you. We did just that with these superfood ingredients: ashwagandha (a stress-supporting adaptogen) ceylon cinnamon (good for your blood sugar) and ginger (good for digestion and circulation). We wanted to create an easy, warm, at-home latte experience — you just have to add hot water. The oat milk and coconut milk combined especially add a creamy, frothy texture and delicious taste.
There is Room for Us
Sajani would wonder: “Why aren’t we, as South Asians, at the forefront of creating these products for the market? We are in the best position to bring along the communities who are growing these ingredients or have practiced these rituals for generations. We can really tell the stories behind them and shift the conversations around trends. There is room for us.”
We think that turmeric and its popularity is great, but it’s just one of the many great things we have in South Asia. That was also part of Sajani’s thought process around launching the Super Green Latte.
Online, we searched for perspectives on turmeric from South Asians. We wanted to highlight two articles we especially loved: First, in How Indian is Your “Turmeric Latte”? Food52, Mayukh Sen speaks about encountering turmeric lattes in coffee shops, the history around turmeric, and the simplification of turmeric milk being seen as “Indian”. Second, Priya Krishna’s Bon Appétit interview with Diaspora Co. founder Sana Javeri Kadri on turmeric and the unfair compensation of Indian spice farmers, which is often missing in western media about the turmeric trend.
With our Turmeric Latte, we are bringing our heritage forward with a delicious, superfood-rich beverage, sourced with the freshest turmeric.