Co-founders (and lactose intolerant sisters) Carolyn and Susan Flood were researching almond milk when they realized that what they were buying from supermarket shelves wasn’t exactly the product they thought it was. “Here’s this beverage being marketed as a health product, when it’s essentially water, a small amount of nuts, and then just filler that’s mostly sugar or doesn’t have many nutritional qualities to it,” Carolyn recalls realizing.
Their shock quickly turned to motivation, and before long the siblings began making their own nut milk—a proprietary blend of almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and cashews (plus water and dates for a bit of sweetness) that swapped the sugars and shelf life-extending stabilizers for the freshest, cleanest, simplest ingredients.
Since officially launching in September 2014, the duo has experimented with new flavors (including Honey Lavender, Chocolate, and Coffee, for which they partnered with downtown cafe Ground Support) and different avenues of availability; you can order online, shop it in select stores, pick it up with your CSA, or—most exciting—get it delivered, throwback style. Prices start at $8 for 16 ounces.
“We do the old ‘50s and ‘60s style of nut milk delivery, using glass bottles that we bring directly to your doors,” says Carolyn, who notes that they usually go by bike or foot to reduce their carbon footprint. “We deliver what we promise: Fresh, all-natural ingredients, with no artificial preservatives, all by hand.”
What’s the difference between what they make and what you’d find in your Almond Breeze? (After all, your FreshDirect guy might not be as friendly, but he too brings your smoothie base or coffee sweetener straight to your door.)
Set aside the taste (which is much cleaner and, arguably, more delicious with the fresh stuff) and the use of hot topic ingredients—the carrageenan debate rages on—and it’s really what you won’t find in boxed nut milk that Carolyn thinks is most important: nuts. While the average carton of almond milk is comprised of just two percent nuts, NotMilk’s homemade blends clock in around 12 to 14 percent. “What we call ‘almond milk’ that’s on the shelf for $1.69? That’s not nuts; it’s a lot of other stuff,” she says.
And there’s one other big difference: NotMilk wants you to eat the waste, too. Once they’ve strained their homemade concoction through a cheesecloth and bottled the milk, they take the remaining nut pulp, dehydrate the meal, and turn it into flour… which they then bake into donuts, cookies, and other edible treats. “We recognize that [nuts are] our most expensive ingredient, by far, so to waste any of it hurts,” admits Carolyn, adding, “It’s all good for you!”
Sounds nuts? Maybe—but the sisters think that, like with pre-packaged juice versus the fresh-squeezed stuff, consumers will start to taste the difference. “There’s a growing awareness about what’s in [people’s] food, and they’re interested in what they’re consuming,” says Carolyn. “The simplest ingredients are pretty compelling to people.” —Rebecca Willa Davis
Not in the New York area? Here’s how you can make your own nut milk at home. And here’s why we think small-batch nut milks are going to be huge in 2016.