Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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original way—maybe naïve, but original." Steltenpohl points out that because they are soaking the almonds and pressing them, they can dissolve more of the total almond solids into the solution than a typical industrial process, which, he says, is partly why Califa's product behaves well under heat and tastes great at higher temperatures. Jeremy Tooker, owner of Fourbarrel in San Francisco, used Pacific Series Soy in his cafés before switching to Califia almond milk. It was a well-considered decision. "We did a bunch of tests—cold, steamed, with coffee and without, blind cuppings—to determine quality," Jeremy says. "Califia was hands-down the best." Though some customers protested the change, Jeremy says, "Twenty to 35 percent of our customers on the weekend order almond milk drinks. Although it wasn't our intention, we've seen an increase in our bottom line since introducing almond milk." Califia produces four almond milk products, but the Creamy Original is advised for café use. Steamed and paired with espresso, it is delicious—silky in texture with a pleasant nuttiness that accentuates the nature of the drink. The only drawback to using Califia milk in a café setting is that, being a perishable product, it is not distributed through the usual channels. Whole Foods will sell it by the case at a discount nationally, and a growing network of dairy distributors who are jumping on the plant-based milks movement are working with Califia to bring it to cafés in California and, soon, New York. PACIFIC NATURAL BARISTA SERIES ALMOND MILK The other great almond milk option is Pacific's Barista Series, which hit distributors' catalogs in January. Working hand-in-hand with some world-class baristas, including Nathanael May and Devin Chapman, the food scientists at Pacific have spent the last two years tackling the unique problems of creating an almond milk that a) tastes good with milk, b) steams well, and c) handles easily. "We realize espresso is the start, and our goal is to have something that complements the coffee, not fights with it," Debra Kaminski says. Devin and Nathanael weren't the only baristas who did multiple blind tastings of various almond milk prototypes and gave targeted feedback. Nathanael enjoyed the testing and says the end product is "shockingly good. The perfect texture—the right amount of fat and butteriness and texture. I don't know what black magic they're using at Pacific Natural, but it's amazing. And they are able to take feedback well—their food scientists nod and smile, then go back to the lab and blow us away with their abilities to translate that into the product." Devin, who did the photo shoot for the box, views Pacific's almond milk as the ideal nondairy tool for baristas. "When it comes to a product like this, what we're trying to do is not necessarily create something exactly like milk. It's going to stand up to the flavor of coffee, and stay together, which it needs to do, and you can get good texture and pour good latte art with it. As a barista behind the bar trying to making my guests happy, the Pacific Barista Series Almond Milk is a very robust tool to have." OTHER MILKS While soy and almond milks continue to dominate in a café setting, there are plenty of other dairy alternatives from which retailers can choose. They're less prevalent, which means they might be harder to obtain—but it's always great to have choices. Hemp, oat, seven-grain, coconut, rice, hazelnut—the list is endless and the varieties extensive. Most of these milks are very difficult to texture and react strangely to heat. The choice of which and how many 75

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