Lots of juice bar owners don't realize that you can make super low cost, highly profitable nut milk with the right kind of almond butter.
Want to learn how to make almond milk for less than $2.89 / gallon? Keep reading.
What You'll Need
- The correct type of bulk almond butter (read more below)
- A handheld immersion blender
- A large mixing container - I recommend a 5 gallon bucket if you're making a large batch. You can use a smaller container if appropriate for your batch size.
- Date paste and vanilla extract for flavor (optional, but recommended).
Choosing the right type of almond butter
Not all almond butters are created equal. There are two main methods for producing almond butter:
- Almond butter made using a mill
A mill is a type of grinder similar to a mortar and pestle, and essentially grinds the nuts into smaller particles. This is the most common method of processing nuts for almond butter. Almond butter created using a mill is not ideal for making almond milk, because the particle size is too large and too inconsistent. It leads to a thinner almond milk and more sediment on the bottom of the container.
- Almond butter made using a Comitrol
A Comitrol is a more controlled, more consistent method of reducing particle size of dry ingredients. The machine essentially shaves down the nut particles until they are the correct size before letting them pass through, so the result is that the particles come out much smaller and more consistent in size. This type of nut butter blends better with water and the almond milk comes out much richer in taste and more consistent in texture.
Pro Tip: Comitrol processed almond butter is not only the best type for making almond milk, but also much better when using in a squeeze bottle application for smoothie bowl toppings or toasts.
Not sure which almond butter to buy? We recommend using Virtue brand almond butter, available in bulk in the Goodnature Marketplace. Virtue produces their almond butter specifically for juice bars that have multiple uses for almond butter, including making their own almond milk. Virtue-roasted almonds are passed twice through the Comitrol in order to guarantee ultimate creaminess and consistency. One 16 lb. pail of their bulk nut milk can make an astonishing 40 gallons of nut milk (when following the method below)!
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Bulk purchasing size and separation
When buying almond butter in bulk, it's important to buy a large size in order to keep costs down, but keep in mind that almond butter will slowly separate and the oil will eventually rise to the top.
If your almond butter goes unused for a long time, you will need to mix it by hand using a stir stick. This is quite manageable in smaller size containers, but once you get up into a size larger than 2-gallon pails, it can be quite laborious and difficult. For that reason we recommend that most juice bars purchase almond butter in 2-gallon (16 lb) containers and not the larger 4-gallon or 5-gallon containers, unless you will go through the full amount soon after it's received.
How to make almond milk from almond butter
The process of making almond milk from nut butter is super simple. You basically just combine water and almond butter and mix it using an immersion blender until you reach the consistency desired. The shelf life is approximately 4-5 days if kept cold in a refrigerator. We will go over two types of almond milk:
Option 1: Utility Almond Milk Recipe
Almond milk that's going to be used as a base in smoothies or smoothie bowls can be made slightly thinner with less almond butter. For this use case we recommend:
- 2 lb - Virtue almond butter
- 5 gallons - Water
- 1 lb - Date paste for sweetness
- 3 Tbsp - Vanilla Extract
This recipe will yield about 5 gallons of almond milk at an incredible cost of $2.85/gal (calculated with almond butter at regular price). Yes that's less than three cents per ounce!
If you want to test this with a smaller amount, the ratio is about 0.8 weight ounces (23 grams) of almond butter per 16 fluid ounces of water.
Option 2: Bottled Almond Milk Recipe
This is a thicker, creamier almond milk that can be sold as it's own beverage in 12 oz or 16 oz bottles.
- 1 lb - Virtue almond butter
- 1 gallon - Water
- 0.5 lb - Date paste for sweetness
- 2 Tbsp - Vanilla extract
This recipe will yield approximately 1 gallon, which is eight 16 oz bottles, or eleven 12 oz bottles. The ratio for this creamier option is about 2 weight ounces (57 grams) of almond butter per 16 fluid ounces of water. The cost on this is approximately $7.00 / gallon (calculated with almond butter at regular price).
Compared to making almond milk from whole almonds
If you own a real juice press like a Goodnature X-1 Mini, you can definitely make almond milk from scratch using whole almonds. This will give you the best quality almond milk available, but at a much higher cost. So although I think this is great for bottled almond milk that you selI to your customers, I recommend at least considering the almond butter approach for the almond milk used in smoothies and bowls to save on cost.
Compared to using pre-made almond milk
Many juice and smoothie bars simply buy cartons of almond milk to use in their smoothies and bowls. There are some major downsides to this, including:
- Customer perception
When serving fresh, homemade products like a smoothie, customers want to know everything is fresh and made in-house. If a customer sees a staff member pouring almond milk from a carton it gives the perception that your products are actually not fresh at all.
Most premade almond milks are loaded with additives including gums, sweeteners, and preservatives. Raw almond butter is made from almonds only, so you can control exactly what ingredients are in your final almond milk product.
Making almond milk from almond butter can actually be a lot less expensive, depending on which brand of premade almond milk is being purchased. There are definitely cheap carton brands out there, but they are total garbage.
For these reasons, making almond milk from almond butter is highly preferred for a juice bar over using a carton brand.