This Is the Local Vegan Milkman Almond Milk Addicts Are Freaking Out About
“The first day I opened at the Collingswood farmers’ market, I was like, Oh lord, please let someone buy a bottle of this almond milk besides my mom,” Jake Deleon, owner of the newly founded, South Jersey-based almond milk company Origin Almond tells me. That was this past Halloween, and turns out all that worrying was totally unnecessary: He sold out of his freshly made almond milks — they come in four flavors: Original, Matcha Green Tea, Golden Turmeric and Dark Cacao — that first day, and when he got to the farmers’ market the next week, there was a line of thirsty folks waiting for him.
So, why are people freaking out about this almond milk? Well, for one, it tastes really good (more on that later); two, it’s free of the the long list of ingredients involved in most almond milks you find at the grocery store, including thickening agents; and three, Deleon delivers — usually just a few hours after bottling the almond milk he’s bringing you. As he says, “I’m like the modern-day vegan milkman.”
Deleon spent the last decade in Singapore and Hong Kong working in marketing for Starbucks and Procter & Gamble. Over there, fresh almond milk is all over the place, so he would treat himself to a glass of it regularly. When he came back to the states nine months ago, he went on the hunt for some good almond milk. The hunt didn’t go so well. “I went to ShopRite and got some and I was like, Whoa, this stuff is REALLY nasty,” he says. “So I decided to make it myself.”
Deleon, who makes his almond milks in a commercial kitchen in Magnolia, New Jersey, says the process takes 36 hours, and he usually gets the milk to his customers’ doors within a few hours of bottling it. Each of the milks are made with raw, organic, non-GMO, unpasteurized almonds (a mouthful, I know), filtered water, and organic agave, with additional ingredients like matcha, turmeric or dark cacao in the flavored options. He also offers seasonal specials — right now he’s got a cold-brew coffee concoction and a Thai coconut/almond milk blend. Each 16-ounce bottle will run you eight bucks, which yes, is a lot for almond milk. But it’s also on par with a fresh-pressed juice, and it’s intended to be the same sort of luxurious treat. As Deleon says, “When you drink it, it’s like a completely different experience than drinking something like Silk — like La Colombe versus Folgers.”
And we have to say, his almond milk is the bomb. We tried the four signature flavors here at the Be Well Philly HQ and I’m going to have a hard time going back to Almond Breeze. The texture of the milk is not as creamy as commercial brands (because there aren’t any thickeners to bulk it up), so as Be Well Philly editor Emily said, it might not make for the best coffee creamer. That said, it’s delicious on its own. My favorite was the Original, which was perfectly sweet, thanks to the agave. I also really loved the Matcha Green Tea, which tasted a lot like green tea ice cream, though it wasn’t a big hit with the other taste-testers. The crowd favorites were the Golden Turmeric, which reminded us all of chai tea, and the Dark Cacao, which wasn’t super sweet but would certainly satisfy a chocolate craving. Deleon also leaves some almond chunks in the milk, which I really liked, though I can see it bothering some, the same way orange juice pulp can be a deal breaker. Another downside is that the milk has to be consumed within five days of delivery — but when you think about, so does most fresh food.
Since the Collingswood farmers’ market shut down for the winter, Origin Almond has been a strictly online business, with Deleon delivering almond milk twice a week to customers, mostly in areas of South Jersey like Cherry Hill and Haddonfield. But lucky for us, he seems to be making his way into Philly. He tells me he should be sampling at Reading Terminal’s Fair Food Farmstand this weekend (he’s hoping they’ll end up carrying his milks), and he’s accepting Philly delivery customers, as long as he can keep up with demand. If you’re in Philly and interested, he says it’s best to email him here with your order. Just note: There’s a $5 delivery fee per order and, once you taste it, you will have a hard time going back to the regular (much cheaper) stuff.
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