Arts & Culture, University News

Cold brew coffee from Califia Farms expands dining options

Odwalla founder starts new company to create healthy, environmentally-friendly coffee drinks

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Califia Farms’ cold-brew coffee is now offered at Josiah’s and café carts in the Rockefeller Library and the Sciences Library. The four flavors available are XX Espresso, Triple Shot, Salted Caramel and Cocoa Noir.

As of the start of the 2016 fall semester, students can buy vegan, cold-brew coffee at many of the a la carte eateries around Brown’s campus. Califia Farms coffee products are currently available at Josiah’s and the cafe carts in the Rockefeller Library and the Sciences Library.

Califia Farms was founded in 2010 by Greg Steltenpohl, who is perhaps best known as the founder of Odwalla Inc. Califia originated as a bottler of tangerine juice for the Cuties brand and soon expanded its range to include almond milk.

Steltenpohl’s fascination with almond milk sprung from his former work with soy milk, a primary ingredient in many of Odwalla’s shakes and smoothies. According to Kaitlin Barton, a representative with Califia Farms, soy milk “has a lot of issues with (genetically modified organisms) and has a lot of taste issues. (Steltenpohl) wanted to make almond milk using the bounty of the Central Valley of California as the main inspiration for the product.”

Califia’s method for producing almond milk is different from many of its competitors. “We use blanched almonds to grind down into a meal and create almond milk” by adding water to the meal, while “most other almond milks on the market … basically take a roasted almond paste and add water to it,” Barton said.

This yields an almond milk that tastes more like cow’s milk than other dairy alternatives and serves as an appealing alternative for those with lactose intolerance.

Barton also alleges that almond milk brings out the natural flavor of cold-brew coffee, lending creaminess to a drink that contains more caffeine and less acid than traditional hot-brewed coffee.

This has made Califia Farms the number one cold-brew coffee product in the natural channel, Barton said.

Califia began reaching out to universities like Brown because the brand “has become iconic among millennials, who are now choosing brands that are better for the world and using their dollars to support that,” Barton said. Reaching out to universities is part of Califia’s push to break into the immediate consumption channel, which refers to places like convenience stores where consumers are buying these products to drink right away.

The fact that many universities have contracts with big companies like Pepsi Co Inc. has made it difficult for Califia to enter the scene, Barton said. But large state universities that use larger food distributors like Sysco Corp. and smaller universities like Brown that place emphasis on students’ needs have created openings for companies like Califia to get their products on university shelves.

According to Emily Lynch, a spokesperson for Brown Dining Services, Brown chooses new products based on “attributes such as popularity, quality, healthfulness, sustainability efforts, the overall product mix of the unit as well as availability and cost,” all of which align well with the Califia mission.

Lynch also said that the cold brew has been “well received” by students.

“I thought (the cold brews) were a great addition to the food carts. It’s a very easy on-the-go drink to grab between classes if I find I’m tired during the day, and it’s easier and faster to get than hot coffee,” said Gabriela De Queiroz Campos ’19. “Plus,” she added, “they are delicious.”

Barton said that Califia is still only in a handful of schools across the nation but receives a lot of help from “universities with a leadership agenda, like Brown.”

The cold brew at Brown is available in four flavors: XX Espresso, Triple Shot, Salted Caramel and Cocoa Noir. Also available is Cali Coco, a coconut smoothie drink.

Correction: A previous version of this article and its headline stated that Califia Farms’ products are organic. In fact, they are not. The Herald regrets the error. 

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