The Untold Truth Of Califia Farms

A leader in plant-based products, Califia Farms is known for many things, including making some of the most popular non-dairy milks on the market. Whether you're a fan of almond milk, or maybe love the creaminess of oat milk or need the sweetness in coconut milk – with the range of products Califia Farms has, there's something for every need in the kitchen. From non-dairy cold brews and creamers for that morning pick-me-up to plant-based milks that can be used in baking, or even making dinner like vegan mashed potatoes, they have it all.

But what makes this plant-based milk company stand out in a growing field? Maybe it's because Califia Farms makes its products so delicious and natural, without sacrificing the environment. As the official website points out, the company makes this focus clear in its mission statement: "We believe food must be returned to its original nourishing purpose. We do this with the power of plants and by working together for the good of the planet."

In fact, Califia Farms shows how dedicated they are to a mission of sustainability even down to their warehouse facilities. Originally founded in partnership with a farmer's co-op in California's San Joaquin Valley, its current manufacturing plant in Bakersfield, California is powered entirely on renewable energy, according to a press release. As well, to source the ingredients for their ever popular almond milk, the company works primarily with local providers, one of which is a third-generation family operation, and it's said that "more than 80% of the almonds Califia buys are grown and processed within a 20-mile radius of their bottling facility," according to Forbes.

But that's not all there is to love about this naturally wholesome brand.

Califia Farms started as a juice company

Califia Farms didn't instantly become the almond milk powerhouse that it is today. In fact, the company actually rose out of the ashes of an idea to make citrus drinks in an attempt to reduce food waste by juicing imperfect fruit, according to Forbes. Its founder and former CEO Greg Steltenpohl (who sadly passed away in March 2021) had previously co-founded Odwalla Juice Company, which was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2001 (via CNN). Odwalla, which shut down in 2020, was known for making a popular line of smoothies and other juices.

When Califia Farms was founded in 2010, it continued to make fruit juices, but Steltenpohl soon noticed the rising appeal of non-dairy milks and wanted to offer a product to the masses, differentiating his range with more flavor options that are normally not present in regular dairy. According to CNBC, Steltenpohl decided to create interesting product flavors, including cinnamon horchata and chocolate cinnamon plant-based milks. This creativity and great taste has allowed Califia Farms to skyrocket in popularity as a brand beloved by vegans and non-vegans alike.

"With nearly two in five households buying plant-based dairy alternatives, Califia is uniquely positioned to provide consumers with the healthy, delicious beverages they are seeking," said current CEO Dave Ritterbrush in a press release, signifying he plans to carry on Steltenpohl's original mission. "We remain committed to creating a future where plants replace dairy without compromise."

You can still buy juice varieties from Califia Farms, with current flavors including Meyer Lemonade, Ginger Limeade, and Tart Cherry Lemonade, as seen on the website.

Its unique bottle shape has won awards

It's easy to spot Califia Farms products in stores that carry the line because of the brand's usage of a unique, vase-shaped bottle. This revolutionary design is both iconic and functional, and has led the company to win awards for its unique look. In 2015, Califia Farms won top honors in Beverage World Magazine's Global Packaging Design Awards, as noted by a press release. 

But how did the company even come up with the design? It is clear in its mission statement (as seen on the brand's website) that Califia Farms prioritizes its environmental impact, and that focus is manifested in every part of its products — from design to production. The company states that its bottles are made out of recyclable packaging, including PET or HDPE plastic, as well as glass or aluminum bottles and cartons. 

As for the functional and aesthetic aspects of the packaging, former CEO Greg Steltenpohl said they were designed that way "based on the classical, feminine proportions featured in a Greek Amphora" (via Packaging Strategies). In 2017, the company even released a curvier container for its line of coffee creamers. This specific design, says Califia Farms, aids in getting the "right" pour into coffee and overcomes spillage issues.

The company has also won additional awards in its decade of existence. They were honored as a Top 10 Challenger Brand by the Seurat Group while Beverage World also named them a Breakout Brand andPrevention added them to the list of the 100 Cleanest Packaged Foods. Steltenpohl also received his fair share of accolades, known as being an "eco-friendly revolutionary" and one of the beverage industry's Top 50 Disruptors, according to the press release.

The logo is in honor of a mythical queen

Another part of Califia Farms' iconic design lies within its logo and the reason for its name. The female character featured prominently on all their products hails from folklore. Queen Califia, popularized in 16th century literature, according to Post News Group, was a woman warrior who assembled her own female militia and ruled over an island nation where gold was in abundance. 

Known as the namesake for the state of California, Califia Farms soon adopted her likeness and story for their brand as former CEO Greg Steltenpohl felt that having her as the company's icon intertwined with its missions revolving around sustainability and health.

Califia Farms is also currently headquartered in Los Angeles and Steltenpohl grew up in San Bernardino County, according to the Los Angeles Times, which further makes Queen Califia the perfect figurehead for the company. In fact, the team continues to pick the citrus for its juices in the San Joaquin Valley of California, according to their website

Califia Farms consumers are mostly millennials

It's no surprise that millennials, who have largely spearheaded the non-dairy movement (according to the Downey Patriot), are a good chunk of the demographic audience for Califia Farms. Even as far away as China, many 25- to 35-year-olds have resonated with Califia Farms' focus around sustainability, while also enjoying the delicious, plant-based drinks that they have put to good daily use — even mixing them into into staples such as bubble tea and fruit tea (via Alizila).

According to BEV NET, millennials are also essential in the company's innovation strategy, as the company sees them as influencing parents and grandparents from other generations to switch to plant-based dietary options. This word-of-mouth ambassadorship inadvertently helps Califia Farms reach a wider market, attributing to its place on The Spruce Eats' list for having one of the best non-dairy milks of 2021.

And according to Farm Design, a multi-disciplinary design agency, the plant-based beverage company is doing a pretty good job of attracting millennials as an audience. Its case study found that this demographic enjoys environmentally-friendly, delicious, and simple products — all of which Califia Farms encapsulates in its branding.

Not to mention being "the most recognizable brand in the plant-based dairy aisle," says Forbes who notes that the company's recent capital funding of $225 million will be used for more "global domination." 

Califia Farms was named Beverage Forum's Small Company of the Year in 2021

Califia Farms is still and up-and-coming, despite being founded just over a decade ago. Though it recently raised $225 million in funding (via Forbes), it still falls underneath the "small company" category — but that hasn't stopped it from reaping big accolades. Califia Farms was recently named Beverage Forum's Company of the Year in the small company category in May 2021. 

"Califia Farms is a true innovator in the beverage space," Chairman and CEO of Beverage Marketing Corporation Michael Bellas said of the distinction given to the plant-based provider. "Califia continues to expand its line of dairy alternatives with unique and on-trend products like Protein Oat and its latest Barista Blend releases: Mushroom Oat and Hemp."

According to a press release, Califia Farms still stays true to its objective of having plants replacing dairy without the sacrifice of taste or quality, and also has a lofty goal to be fueled by "100% renewable power by the end of 2020," says Forbes.

We can only imagine (and support) the success of Califia Farms going forward as they continue to produce delicious, plant-based goodies for everyone to enjoy and with a functionality that is good for the environment, too. Califia Farms products are available in a good number of supermarkets, and once you get them home, head to the company's blog page where you can find delicious recipes, from a Cereal Milk Latte to White Pizza.