E’ville Biz Digest: Ripple Foods, Imperfect Produce, TCHO Chocolates, Highwire and Scarlet City Espresso

Published On January 21, 2016 | By Rob Arias | Local Business, News & Commentary

Five Emeryville Business that have garnered attention in other publications are profiled in this edition of our E’ville Biz Digest. The first is a Gluten-free and vegan version of “milk”. Ripple Foods is synthesizing a “nondairy milk” here in Emeryville out of plants including peas. Ripple was founded by entrepreneurs Adam Lowry (co-founded of Method Products) and Neil Renninger (co-founded of Amyris Inc.)

Imperfect Produce, whom we profiled before, recently got some national exposure from the New York Times. Imperfect is making a dent in the massive amount of food waste here in the U.S. by reselling produce rejected by larger grocers for their non-uniform appearance at a discount.

Our friends at Berkeleyside ran a recent piece profiling small coffee roasters across the East Bay. Proudly, two of these are in fact Emeryville roasters including Highwire and Scarlet City. Highwire has recently moved into the retail sector by acquiring Local 123 Cafe on San Pablo Avenue. Emeryville has a long and rich history as a home to coffee roasters including Peet’s & McLaughlin.

We also have an update of the highly anticipated TCHO chocolates tours. TCHO moved to the Berkeley/Emeryville border on San Pablo nearly two years ago.


Got milk? Ripple Foods attempts to disrupt dairy biz with peas

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By Wendy Lee (Photo: Gabrielle Lurie)
For Emeryville startup Ripple Foods, it all came down to a glass of milk. But the milk didn’t come from cows. Rather, the primary ingredient in this mystery substance was split yellow peas.

Dairy milk drinker Gabriel Kra had to taste it to believe it. Kra, a venture capitalist, was presented with a glass of “Ripple,” and as he took a swig, his skepticism subsided. His firm, Prelude Ventures, became a lead investor in the product.

The quarterly publication. How the gluten-free movement got its glam on Livestock manager Ellen Skillings (middle) and owner Jeanne McCormack (right) show McCormack Ranch in Rio Vista, Calif., on Friday, September 11, 2015. Conglomerates give Bay Area food companies a wider reach Vegan cheese selections: smoked pecan, macadamia nut, and sharp cashew on slate made at Encuentro in Oakland, California, on Friday, June 5, 2015. The Chronicle’s guide to the vegan East Bay
“It got the taste, texture and mouthfeel of milk,” Kra said. “I voted with my tastebuds.”

Ripple Foods is betting on other people voting the same way. The company, which develops dairy-like products made from plants, is entering the nearly $2 billion nondairy milk substitute market, according to research firm Mintel. It plans to first compete with products like almond milk and soy drinks. Then, the startup could take a gulp of the even larger U.S. milk market or delve into other nondairy products using other plants.

Read More on SFChronicle.com →
(Subscription required)


Getting Ugly Produce Onto Tables So It Stays Out of Trash

By Jennifer Medina

The eggplants are crooked and a little long-necked, contorted enough that they would probably lose in a beauty pageant against rounder or more symmetrical aubergines.

In the field where they were grown or in the supermarkets for which they were once destined, they would presumably have been discarded. Not because they are inedible — simply because they do not make the aesthetic cut.

But the notion that real food has curves may be as catchy as the subversive advertising campaign on women’s beauty.

“We find that it is really easy to convince people when they realize they can pay a fraction of the price to get the same kind of taste and health,” said Ron Clark, the chief supply officer for Imperfect Produce, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up that has been selling what it calls “cosmetically challenged” fruit and vegetables for the last six months. “Once one person is convinced, it doesn’t take much to get them to convert others.”

Read More on NYTimes.com →


Small-batch roasters keep the East Bay caffeinated

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by Benjamin Seto
In the food-conscious Bay Area where sourcing is essential, it’s no surprise that specialty coffee drinkers will often ask: “Who roasts your beans?”

While many times you’ll hear popular names like Ritual, Sightglass, Four Barrel and Blue Bottle (of course), more and more consumers are choosing beans from a small crew of brands like Highwire, Bicycle Coffee, Supersonic or Red Bay. They all have their own unique ways of roasting coffee, but they all have one thing in common — they make the East Bay their home.

A growing number of so-called “third wave” coffee roasters — those who roast small-batches of often hard-to-find or exotic green beans — are popping up on this side of the Bay, mostly because the founders already live here or they believe there’s a stronger sense of community in places like Oakland and Berkeley than in San Francisco. For a small roaster starting out, community can be a key to success.

Read More on Berkeleyside.com →


We reported back in April of 2014 of gourmet Chocolate producer TCHO’s intent to move from SF to the in-renovation Marchant building on San Pablo. A North Oakland neighbor on Twitter tipped off “the scent of chocolate in the air” indicating that production at the plant had begun. What residents really want to know is when tastings will begin. As of 11/23, plant tours & tastings are still not up and running. The site notes “we’ll announce it far and wide, shouting from the rooftops if necessary, when we’re finally ready!”.

E’ville Bites: TCHO Chocolates moving to Emeryville/Berkeley Border

3100-San-Pablo-Avenue-Berkeley
by Rob Arias

I still regret never having taken the Scharffen Berger chocolate tour at their 7th & Heinz Ave West Berkeley factory (I get teary reminiscing about the mimosa’s and chocolate pancakes at the neighboring Café Cacao … sniff). The Hershey Company acquired Scharffen Berger in 2005 and shuttered the doors of this historic location soon after. Seasoned E’villains may also remember Charles Chocolates prior it becoming the Clif Bar campus on Hollis. They offered tastings that paired their chocolates with wine and champagne! Another gourmet idea that failed to gain traction in the East Bay.

We’ll be given another opportunity to support gourmet chocolate as it was recently announced that TCHO “New American Chocolates” will be moving to the Marchant Building that straddles the Berkeley/Emeryville Border along San Pablo.

Read More on EvilleEye.com →

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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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