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Califia Farms Pure Almondmilk

Posted on by Alisa Fleming in Alternatives - Milk, Product Reviews with 19 Comments
Version:
Original, Vanilla, Unsweetened, Coconut-Almond
Price:
$3.99 / 48-ounce container

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On July 10, 2013
Last modified:July 10, 2014

Summary:

Califia stands out from the almond milk pack with four intensely almond varieties that have a very rich and creamy consistency (think 2% milk). Great for coffee, hot chocolate, baking, and when those creamy cravings hit. For flavor and luxury, a solid 4 to 4.5 stars! Nonetheless, we had to knock off a star for their confusing labeling, which includes the warning at left about non-dairy-free varieties and the misleading ingredient statement (noted below).

Warning: Califia Farms has released a “Protein” line that is made with dairy milk protein! Their traditional almondmilks are still made without dairy ingredients (cross-contamination seems high risk), but the almond milk “protein” line is not dairy-free, and yet they are both labeled “Pure Almondmilk”. The “protein” line is available in Vanilla and Chocolate (at last check, there was no Chocolate flavor in their traditional almond milk line).

It would take two hands to count the number of times someone at Expo West mentioned Califia Farms and their almond milk to me. As soon as I uttered the words “dairy-free,” I was bombarded with suggestive questions: Have you tried that new almond milk? Have you been to the Califia Farms booth yet?

On the second day of the show, I finally made my way to the Califia Farms booth to see what all of the fuss was all about. I was immediately greeted by the enthusiastic founder of the Almondmilk products and an insanely cute set-up with beautifully packaged products, from the Califia Farms Almondmilk and Dairy-Free Iced Coffees (seriously!) to their aptly named Cuties juice and smoothie products.

So why the hype? For starters, Califia Farms seems to be a darn good company. They are non-GMO verified, use 100 percent recyclable packaging (BPA-Free PET bottles), and take special care in product production. While other brands of almond milk use roasted almonds, Califia uses blanched “raw” California almonds to retain more of the fresh almond taste and natural nutrients.

We concurred that Califia Farms Almondmilk does indeed retain more flavor; it has a more intense almond vibe than most other almond milks. It’s also very rich, and even a bit creamier than 2% dairy milk. It comes in four five flavors:

Califia Farms Almondmilk - Dairy Free Milk Alternative

Creamy Original – For true almond milk lovers only, this variety has just a hint of sweetness, but is rich with almond flavor. Tony loved it in his coffee. I found it a little rich for me for general sipping as did my niece, but very good in smoothies, hot chocolate, and when coupled with hearty granola.

Vanilla – Considering Califia’s penchant for richness, we were expecting some in-you-face vanilla with this flavor, but it was surprisingly mild. Just an essence of vanilla, and actually a little less sweet than the Original variety, but with the same full-bodied consistency.

Unsweetened – Pure, no sugar added, almondy goodness. I love having a good almond milk on hand without any sugar, to compliment when something is already a bit sweet, or to help out in savory dishes. The true almond flavor doesn’t work with all savories, but is great for heartier or earthy recipes.

Toasted Coconut – I didn’t think coconut would be able to compete much with the almond milk base, but it actually overpowers it! Even richer than the others, and quite coconutty, this could work as a great stand-in for half and half in recipes, as long as the coconut profile suits the dish. I’m thinking it would make a marvelous light pina colada, too! Tony liked it in his coffee, but preferred the Original Almond Milk.

*Seasonal* Holiday Nog – First released for the holidays in 2014, I feel that this nog falls under the Almond Milk category rather than busting out on its own as a special beverage. Made primarily with the Califia Farms base of almond milk and pure cane sugar, the consistency mimicked their other almond milk flavors – lightly rich, like a 2 percent milk – making for a fantastic nog-inspired or nog-flavored almond milk. It is tasty in its own right, gently sweet, perfect for baking, great in coffee and tea, and even splashed over oatmeal, but much lower on the indulgence scale than a classic “nog.” Enjoy it as your holiday milk alternative of choice for a seasonal treat!

Califia Farms Almond Milk - Holiday Nog

Beyond the taste and consistency, I loved that all four varieties had no to very low sugars. I eat enough sweets; the last thing our house needs is sugar in our milk! For those who are concerned about vitamins and minerals, Califia Farms Almondmilk is substantially fortified with calcium, vitamin D (vegan), vitamin E, vitamin B12, and more.

Ingredient Confusion? Beyond the warning about about their new varieties of “Pure” Almondmilk with dairy protein (above), I was initially thrown off by the Califia Farms “Pure” Almondmilk label and odd ingredient statement listing. When I glanced at the back of the Unsweetened bottle, I saw “Ingredients: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds)”. I immediately got excited thinking “it really is pure almond – no additives!” But when I noticed the high calcium and vitamin D, I questioned how that was possible. What I didn’t initially see was that there are more ingredients, just spaced downward and separated from the two main ingredients. They do indeed have fortification, thickeners, and emulsifiers, but the way Califia Farms lays out the ingredients and uses the “pure almondmilk” title was quite misleading for me.

Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Califia Farms Pure Almondmilk beverages are vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, and soy-free. Nonetheless, check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.

For More Product Information: Visit the Califia Farms website at www.califiafarms.com.

Califia Farms Almond Milk - Holiday Nog

Top two images from Califia Farms on Facebook! The nog images are from my home!

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About Alisa Fleming

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry. Follow me on Google+.

View all posts by Alisa Fleming →

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

19 Comments

  1. jeffJuly 10, 2013 at 3:17 pmReply

    I need it now! where to buy in Glendale AZ

  2. J'Marinde ShephardJuly 10, 2013 at 9:57 pmReply

    I saw this at my local Byerly’s Grocery store two days ago, and it was priced at $5.99. I decided to forego it at that price.

    • Alisa FlemingJuly 11, 2013 at 3:09 pmReplyAuthor

      Wow, yes, that is really pricey! It’s about $3.99 (not on sale) at the Whole Foods in my area.

  3. Connie VeilleuxJuly 11, 2013 at 4:04 pmReply

    Thanks for the great product review. I have some almond milk that I rely heavily on, but am always looking for new choices. Thanks for sharing another one.

  4. Milk Allergy MomJuly 12, 2013 at 10:21 pmReply

    Thanks for sharing. I will have to look for it! :)

  5. MarisJuly 18, 2013 at 8:34 amReply

    So glad to hear they are working on a carrageenan replacement. Woohoo!

  6. JGSeptember 17, 2013 at 9:24 amReply

    I kind of tripped over this at Whole Foods. I’m somewhat new to Almond Milk, and I liked the look of the bottle so took a chance. I purchased the “Original”. THE BEST – and the only Almond Milk that I will ever purchase.

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 17, 2013 at 6:26 pmReplyAuthor

      The bottle does draw you in doesn’t it? They did a genius job with the packaging AND the product.

  7. Matt SSeptember 22, 2013 at 11:40 amReply

    Is there a suggestion for an organic almond milk?

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 23, 2013 at 9:05 amReplyAuthor

      Most brands of almond milk aren’t organic. Two that you might trial are Pacific Foods brand (aseptic / shelf-stable packaging only) and 365 organic (from Whole Foods, but may be sold elsewhere, too).

  8. LizDecember 27, 2013 at 10:17 pmReply

    Bought this today and I must say that I really like it! I got mine at Target for $3.99, worth the price.

  9. ColletteApril 17, 2014 at 4:03 pmReply

    I have to confess, it was the beautiful dairy bottle that attracted me. So yes, I paid more cuz I liked the bottle. I just had a bowl of Cereal with the “Vanilla” almond. Then I had another bowl. OMG, this is the BEST Almond Milk I have EVER had and I will forever buy this wonderful “guilty pleasure”. It’s Creamy, delightful and simply wonderful. Nothing compares to this.

    • Alisa FlemingApril 17, 2014 at 8:26 pmReplyAuthor

      I know, those bottles are attractive aren’t they!

  10. SarahApril 25, 2014 at 9:47 pmReply

    Really bummed that they use carageenan. Nice to see they are working on a replacement, but it will likely be replaced with more gum/yucky thickener. Make your own at home!

  11. EllaMay 6, 2014 at 7:29 pmReply

    I’m upset with Califia but have myself to blame for missing the 2% of “other” ingredients listed in fine print. A ingredient/s from it caused me GI distress whereas homemade and Trader Joe’s almond milk (refrigerated) did not.

    • Alisa FlemingMay 6, 2014 at 8:29 pmReplyAuthor

      What a bummer! I have to admit, their ingredient label is definitely confusing.

  12. MadisonJuly 10, 2014 at 2:53 amReply

    The pure chocolate almond milk is not dairy free!!!! I had an allergic reaction. The bottle says 50% more calcium than dairy, yet there is dairy in it. The ingredient list says whey which I did not see before purchasing. Pure almond milk should be pure almond milk! This was so dangerous for me to consume.

    • Alisa FlemingJuly 10, 2014 at 7:17 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Madison, it sounds like you purchased Califia Farms new “Protein” Almond Milks (which do contain dairy milk). These are a different class of milk alternatives from their regular almond milk line (which don’t contain dairy milk), but I agree in looking at the packaging on their website and the name “Pure Almondmilk” makes it very confusing! Have you reported your frustration to the company? I would contact them directly. I’m going to put a warning on my review here and share it with the Go Dairy Free audience today on Facebook to hopefully spread the word.

  13. MaggieJuly 10, 2014 at 3:00 pmReply

    This sounds like the beginnings of a marketing nightmare. It’s a shame because on the surface they seem like a great company. I wonder why they would create a protein milk called Pure almond milk yet put dairy in it? They sound like confused teenagers to me :)

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