Malk! A Different Kind of Nut Milk
When August Vega’s demanding job made it difficult for her to make almond milk for her lactose-intolerant son, she turned to the grocery store for an alternative. “I read the box of almond milk [at the store] and I thought: ‘This sounds horrible, all the gums and carrageenan,’” says Vega.
She began researching how she could make a better almond milk and came across high-pressure processing—a cold pasteurization method commonly used to make fresh juices. That was in the summer of 2013. By early 2014, Vega had founded MALK, offering three flavors of cold-pressed milks: unsweetened almond, vanilla almond and maple pecan. Her business took off.
MALK’s nut milks are made using as few ingredients as possible—MALK’s almond milk contains only almonds, water and Himalayan salt—and the high-pressure processing preserves the quality and flavor of the ingredients. The pecan milk is lightly sweetened with maple syrup because, Vega explains, unsweetened pecan milk doesn’t work very well. But absent are the gums, thickeners and binders that have given almond milk a bad reputation. “We’re the opposite of [commercial almond milks],” says Vega’s brother, Justin Brodnax, who heads MALK’s operations.
With Brodnax’s help and that of her cousin, Joel Canada, Vega went from selling MALK at Houston farmers markets and coffee shops to local Whole Foods stores to distributing her drinks to four states (Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana) in two short years. Last year, she also moved her business into its own facility, obtained its organic certification, and introduced three new flavors: cashew, chocolate pecan and a cold-brew coffee and pecan milk drink perfected with the help of Greenway Coffee’s David Buehrer.
For now there are no signs of slowing down but even as her company grows, Vega is committed to preserving the quality of her milks and the passion with which she makes them. “No matter what, as we grow, our goal is to grow with the same spirit of local that we started with,” she says. “We pour our hearts into each bottle.”
MALK (malkorganics.com) is available at Houston-area Whole Foods, Central Market, Phoenicia, among others.