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Founder Friday: Ghost Town Oats is Elevating the Oat Milk Game

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Ghost Town Oats is an emerging star revolutionizing the way baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike think about oat milk. Founded in 2020 by a dynamic team—Eric Grimm, Ezra Baker, and Michelle Johnson—Ghost Town Oats brings together 40 years of specialty coffee industry experience with a mission to create a product by baristas, for baristas. Launching initially in Chicago and Phoenix in 2022, this black and women-owned business quickly demonstrated its market resonance, selling out its first production run of 65,000 units in just six weeks—a timeline far exceeding the founders’ six-month projection.

A Powerful Launch

The company’s early success story is remarkable, with 1 million units sold in the first 10 months, propelling Ghost Town Oats to clear $1 million in revenue within its inaugural year. This achievement is attributed to leveraging powerful relationships within the coffee and barista community, underscoring the importance of genuine connections and a deep understanding of the industry’s needs.

Eric Grimm, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer, explains the driving force behind their oat milk, “Over 1/2 of the milk served in coffee shops is alternative milk (non-dairy). As baristas ourselves, we saw the growth in demand for oat milk and felt we could provide a better product.” Ghost Town Oats is not just another alternative milk option; it’s a product designed with the barista’s needs and the coffee connoisseur’s palate in mind. Grimm adds, “There is a strong sense of community in the coffee industry, and we sought to infuse this interconnectedness into our product and company identity.”

A True Market Need

Addressing a significant market need, Ghost Town Oats taps into the conversation around lactose intolerance, which is notably higher in black and indigenous populations. “Only 33% of the population can actually tolerate lactose. This leaves 67% of the population in need of alternative options,” says Grimm. By focusing on this widespread audience, Ghost Town provides an authentic connection to a substantial market of coffee drinkers seeking a milk alternative that resonates with both their heritage and taste preferences.

Anticipated Growth Phases

With expansion plans already underway into New York and California, Ghost Town Oats aims to be available in coffee shops across all 48 contiguous states by the year’s end. Looking ahead, the company sets its sights on broader horizons, including expanding into other foodservice realms and, eventually, the retail market. As Ghost Town Oats continues to grow, it remains grounded in its mission-driven approach, reshaping the landscape of oat milk and the specialty coffee industry at large.