To drink, to smile
Having fun with new local almond-milk company
“We gave it a name that would make people curious about our business.” That’s how 20-year-old Arielle Danan responded when asked why she and her business partner, 21-year-old Ade (pronounced “Ah-day”) Porter, named their fledgling almond-milk company “Beber.”
Beber—the word means “to drink” in Spanish—has been in existence since September of last year, and has been a fixture at the downtown Saturday-morning farmers’ market since December. Indeed, market-goers appear to be increasingly curious about what goes on at the Beber stand every Saturday. It is not uncommon of late to see a small throng of potential buyers assembled at the booth, tasting samples of fresh, raw almond milk in creative flavors such as lavender-vanilla, Aztec chocolate, green tea-coconut or ginger-pear, depending on what Beber’s flavor of the week is. Cups of the refreshing, delicious stuff are available for $3 each; quarts cost $8. “There’s been a different flavor of the week every week since Beber was started,” said Porter proudly.
Beber’s honey-vanilla almond milk, which is available every week (by the cup for $3 or by the quart for $7), is my go-to flavor. The crisp taste (and scent) of recently made, raw almond milk sweetened with a touch of local honey and organic vanilla is one of the divine pleasures of my farmers’-market visit each Saturday. Ditto for my 12-year-old daughter.
And for more practical tastes, there’s Beber’s plain unsweetened almond milk ($3 per cup, $6 per quart). Commendably, Porter and Danan encourage quart and cup buyers to bring their own containers for a 25-cent-per-container discount.
Danan first got the idea to make almond milk in the spring of 2012 when she was working on a farm in Israel, the second country she visited on a three-country trip that included Italy and India.
“We had a bunch of almonds from a neighboring farm given to us,” she explained. “And a friend taught me how to make almond milk.
“I just sort of fell in love with it, the idea that this product that I had previously only seen in stores, I could make myself. I love the freshness of the taste and how you can taste the difference between what came from a box versus homemade.”
Porter and Danan source their almonds locally and, while they are not certified organic, the producer, Vanella Farms in Durham, “uses sustainable practices,” said Danan, adding that “we plan to convert to completely organic when the new almond crop comes in.”
“We make the milk every Friday morning,” Porter said, “and that way, it’s at its freshest.” He explained the process, which occurs in a commercial kitchen: The almonds are soaked overnight in water (a technique Danan learned in Israel) before the almond-water mixture is pureed in a Vitamix blender and then strained through a fine-mesh “almond-milk bag.”
Soaking the nuts in water “removes an enzyme inhibitor in the skins, which makes [the almond milk] easier to digest,” Danan pointed out.
“It’s so simple,” said Porter of the whole process, which Danan proudly described as producing “zero waste products.” And the ground-up almond pulp does not get discarded. It is dehydrated and turned into naturally gluten-free flour, which sells for $5 per half-pound, or $8 a pound. (Brownies made from the almond flour are usually available at the booth as well for $2 each—very yummy!)
“We strive to keep it as pure as possible, with as few ingredients as possible,” Danan said of the almond milk.
“We take what we do to heart,” Porter added. “We listen to really good music and have really good conversations [while we prepare the milk and flour]. We care about what we do. But most important, we have fun with what we’re doing.
“Right now, my favorite part of this whole experience is working at the market,” he added. “It’s one of the cheeriest events that happens in Chico, and I love the interactions!”