All about the almond
Young entrepreneur takes love of alternative milk to market (and beyond)
From the day Arielle Danan first learned how to make almond milk, she was hooked. That was in 2011, a year Danan spent traveling abroad after graduating from Chico High, working on organic farms and learning about sustainable agriculture in northern Israel and other countries. She made a lot of almond milk—she just couldn’t get enough. “I remember all the other volunteers and workers at the farm having to kind of stop me at some point and remind me that the almonds were communal because I was just using them all the time,” she recalled.
Danan brought her newfound obsession home with her when she returned to the States, where she started making fresh, organic almond milk in her kitchen for friends and family. It didn’t take long to realize that she had access to the resources she needed to start marketing and selling her product—after all, she was living in the “almond capital of the world.”
In December 2012, Danan started making small batches of milk to sell at Chico’s Saturday farmers’ market. She named her company Beber after the Spanish word for “to drink.” Each week, she sold out and made a point to bring a bigger batch the following week. “I think the farmers’ market was really the gateway for us, because we were able to start on a really small scale,” Danan said. It was the perfect way to support small incremental growth without a large start-up investment. Six years later, with the help of her longtime production manager, Ade Porter, Beber Almondmilk is sold at 11 farmers’ markets and in about three dozen grocery stores between Chico and the Bay Area—including Chico Natural Foods, New Earth Market (in Chico and Yuba City) and S&S Produce.
At 25 years old, Danan is only getting started. Her vision for Beber Almondmilk includes full West Coast distribution in regional grocery stores and coffee shops. She plans to move her business from Hamilton City to a spot in Chico next spring. That location, which is three times bigger, will allow her to expand her product line (honey vanilla, chocolate, lavender and “pure” almond milk) to include yogurt, ice cream and coffee drinks. She remains focused on California for the time being, however, and with good reason: “The nature of our product is that it’s fresh and that’s what makes it so special. So, my priority is the quality of the product first. I’m not willing to compromise quality for national distribution.”
“I love the product that I make and I love the people that I work with and the work that I get to do, but what keeps me going through all the late nights and early mornings is the fact that I like problem-solving,” she said. “I like a challenge.”