Califia Farms announced Monday a new on-premise partnership with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, launching the company’s Barista Blend Almondmilk nationwide in select cafe locations. The deal brings Califia Farms’ total on-premise presence to roughly 2,500 locations, making its barista-focused business the fastest growing segment of the company, according to Senior Vice President of Sales Dan Mader.
Speaking to BevNET, Mader said Califia Farms had contacted The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf several times over the last few years hoping to secure a partnership to no avail. But it was finally the California-based coffeeshop chain, which has 500 locations nationwide, that now reached out to the almondmilk producer about its Barista Blend.
Califia Farm’s Barista Blend is a specialty dairy-free creamer formulated specifically for latte making. By using blanched almonds, the blend has a creamier texture that foams up when added to hot coffee.
“The years of persistence somehow had an osmosis effect on igniting the conversation,” Mader said. “We were really excited to engage in a conversation with them and get things rolling.”
Many of the cafes carrying the Barista Blend are in the Southern California region, along with other select stores across the country. Mader said there is strong potential to expand within the chain.
Stores will advertise that they are using Califia Farms-branded almondmilk in drinks prepared behind the bar and the companies are currently working together to review the menu.
Although sales for the barista line still only comprises less than 5 percent of Califia Farms’ total business, its sales were up more than 80 percent from last year, Mader said. Since its launch in 2014, the Barista Blend Almondmilk has proved to be a successful sales driver in the on-premise segment for the company, with roughly 90 percent of sales servicing restaurants and offices.
Califia Farms Barista Blend products are also used at a number of other chain coffee shops, including Philz and Pret-A-Manger.
“It’s an important item for us, it’s a power SKU,” Mader said. “It’s one of those things where we’re starting to reach some critical mass where we have more national players like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf take notice. From quality to ability to execute we see this business getting bigger over time.”
The barista line currently only features almondmilk blends, however future extensions could include other nut-based varieties.
“Quite frankly the barista almond has been a runaway hit so there hasn’t been a lot of pressure to fill a void, but we pride ourselves on innovation,” Mader said. “We’re an innovation company, we’re definitely driven that way in retail and it will carry over into our on-premise strategy for sure.”