I’m a big fan of regular cow juice, but Mrs VancouverCoffeeSnob is more partial to it’s nuttier cousin, Almond Milk. So when I met Lauren, the founder, owner, and maestro of Nuez Milk, I was enthusiastic to try anything that wasn’t the crappy almond milk that you buy in the supermarket. I was so astounded at how delicious almond milk could be that I went home to try to make my own. I failed miserably so instead I buy her product and pretend that never happened.
We caught up with Lauren to chat about Nuez, orange hands and coffee shops!
Who are you and where are you from?
I am Lauren Elbe, I am a real food producer and blooming real food activist. I am from Burnaby BC.
Tell us about Nuez Milk
Nuez Milk is real nutmilk. We make the highest quality organic nutmilks with real food ingredients and without any fillers, stabilizers or preservatives. My goal for the company is to provide the dairy alternative to every high quality coffee shop in Vancouver!
What was the reason you first tried nutmilk?
I started becoming interested in the food industry while I was still in high school and studying nutrition is a passion of mine. I first started drinking nutmilks as a replacement for dairy because I became very interested in the treatment of animals in “conventional” industrial operations and realized it wasn’t something I wanted to support with my dollars. As I learned more about the food industry and health I realized that many vegetarian options are full of fillers that do not nourish the body and decided I needed to make my own from scratch. The flavour of fresh nutmilks is completely incomparable to Tetrapak almond milk I could never go back!
Your nutmilk is in some exceptional coffee shops in Vancouver. Tell us about the first place it was used and how you managed to secure that deal.
I am really excited that so many high quality coffee shops in Vancouver are seeking Nuez out. All of the Cafes we supply to are completely dedicated to quality, ethically sourcing their coffee beans, roasting themselves or supporting local roasters and using ethically sourced dairy. Standard shelf stable filler laden almond milk is so blatantly the odd ingredient out in that mix. There are so many customers who want alternatives to dairy for a multitude of reasons. It is so heartening to be working with such high end cafes who are seeking out the highest quality, highest nutrition content and best tasting ingredients for the customers seeking alternatives to dairy.
Our first big customer was Elysian Cafe. We worked with them for weeks perfecting a custom recipe that balances perfectly with coffee. The whole team at Elysian is so supportive of us, I love working with them!
We were excited to find all sorts of flavours of your nutmilks, what was the most difficult flavor to develop?
I think the most difficult flavour to develop was our barista blend. Getting our simple flavours to blend well with coffee is tricky because every coffee has different flavour notes. It took about 4 months of testing to get our Barista Blend just right! We also worked very hard to make sure that our milks make a nice thick foam when they are steamed to make a baristas life easier!
The other flavours that are tricky are lavender and turmeric. Because I am fixated on quality and freshness the only way I would do Turmeric was to fresh juice it and that is labour intensive! Lavender was a challenge because certain types of lavender have a very perfumy vibe to them and are best not used in food, we found it hard to find a supplier who had the right species of lavender for us to use that has soft and sweet notes without perfumy bitterness, we actually source our lavender from Vancouver Island and the lavender farm is part peacock sanctuary too, its a dreamy place to visit haha!
How long does it take for your hands to turn back to their natural colour after juicing turmeric root?!
About 3 days, I dont usually wear gloves because i had a wrist injury a couple years ago and it totally decreases the pain I feel in my wrist after juicing all those turmeric roots!
Why should someone that loves dairy switch to using your nutmilk?
I think there are some major problems with the conventional dairy industry and I would like to encourage everyone to do their own research about where their food is coming from. That being said there are a couple good grass fed free range dairies in the Fraser Valley that are a good option if dairy is your thing. As far as switching, I feel like my mission is less to switch people from having dairy and more about switching people off filler laden tetrapack almond milk!
What advice would you give to someone starting a new business in Vancouver
I have learned so much about starting a business over the last few years its hard to narrow it down, but if I have to it would be: Do what you are good at and seek out help for things that are not your strengths. I tried doing everything myself for the first year and ended up totally stressed out, burnt out and ineffective.
Are there any coffee shops in Vancouver that you’re excited about?
I am excited everytime a cafe decides to source nutmilks from us! We are currently in Elysian, Beaucoup, Coco et Olive, Bows and Arrows, 33 Acres, Pazzo Chow, Bjorn Bar, and a few others in Ontario and one in Vernon, BC soon!
If you could have coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would absolutely love to go to Ethiopia and participate in a traditional coffee ceremony. I am very interested in traditional foodways and love learning about how plant medicine and ceremony is interpreted culturally!
Thanks to Lauren for taking the time to chat to us today, as well as allowing us to use her incredible photos!