Spotlight :: Treehouse Milk

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kate Carter (left) and Bess Weyandt (right)

My Spotlight Series continues today, featuring a Q&A with Bess Weyandt & Kate Carter, founders of Treehouse Milk. Full disclosure -- I am head over heels for Treehouse Milk! After reading this article in the NYT about Almond-Macadamia Milk, I have been waiting with bated breath for someone locally in Atlanta to craft nut milks..... Well, the wait is over! Bess and Kate are making THE most delicious and creamy assortment of nut milks -- handcrafted with only the simplest & pure ingredients needed.

The pair launched their business this Summer and are receiving overwhelming rave reviews & support -- so much so that they are selling out everytime they make a delivery to Candler Park Market. You can also find them at additional locales around town and ordering is available through the website (be sure to check if you fall into their delivery area).

*Read more below about  Bess, Kate and Treehouse Milk.........

Kate and Bess, are y'all originally from Atlanta?  If not, where are you from and have long have you lived here?

Kate: I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, perhaps the only place more humid than Atlanta. My family drove through Atlanta on our way to get to pretty much anywhere, and I landed here permanently in 2004. Since then I've lived in Candler Park, and my family has grown to include two sons and two dogs.

Bess: I am an Atlantan, through-and-through.  I was born and raised intown, in Morningside. I left for college but came back and have been here most of my adult life.

How did the two of you come together to form Treehouse Milk?

Kate: Bess and I have known each other for six years. Among her many other talents, she's a powerhouse fundraiser and worked for my husband's political campaigns. I was a newspaper reporter and editor, and then taught high school journalism at Grady High School, in midtown Atlanta. Bess and I lived through my husband Jason's bid for governor last year, and we are thrilled to tackle a new and very different adventure in the nut milk business. Bess had thought long and hard about bringing fresh, small batch almond milk to Atlanta, and the two of us sparked our partnership during a walk on the Beltline last spring.

Pecan Milk and Cashew Milk

Could you provide some insight into the spark that ignited the idea to make homemade Almond Milk -- and is almond milk the first type you tried making? 

Bess: A few years ago, when I attempted to transition to a plant-based diet, I started drinking almond milk.  I’d known that it was something that could be made at home, but didn’t really get curious about it til last winter, at which time I started doing some research and learned about all the gross additives they put in the commercial brands.  When I couldn’t find anyone locally who was making fresh, two-ingredient almond milk, and started to see how almond milk was dominating the milk aisle, I thought, "wait a minute, there could be something here..."

Almond milk was the first thing we made.  But we started experimenting with other nuts pretty quickly. 

Do either of you have any sort of formal culinary training or has this process been learn as you go?

Bess: This process has been entirely learn-as-you-go.  I’d say that both of us like to cook and use healthy, local ingredients.  There was a lot of trial-and-error in the kitchen -- especially with the pecan milk.  But getting that one right was well worth it. 

Almond Milk and Cacao Almond Milk

Could you describe some of the details that go into your crafting your milks?  The time frame it takes from nut to actual milk, amounts that y'all are producing, where you're sourcing your nuts, etc.....

Kate: Before we started, we researched everything there is to know about nuts! We spoke with farmers, we interviewed agriculture professors, and looked at what other companies in major market cities were doing. We tried out many recipes, juicers, nut bags, and held tastings for friends. We landed on nut farmers that we feel great about, and we're especially excited about our Sweet Georgia Pecan Milk, which is made with Pearson Farm's Georgia grown pecans. We use an old-fashioned process for making the milk, and while most companies are higher tech, our made-by-hand process turns out to be the most delicious every time.

Where can shoppers find your milks currently?  And for those that have already been buying Treehouse, what is the overall feedback?

Kate: We are really excited about the feedback we're getting.  We've heard people say that once they tasted ours, they couldn't stomach the mega store brands, which are stingy with the nuts but heavy on the chemicals and water. We deliver to many neighborhoods in intown Atlanta, and customers can easily sign up for home delivery on our website, Treehouse Milk.

Our milks are flying off the shelves at Candler Park Market, and we're selling our milks through Fresh Harvest, a terrific CSA home delivery company. You can also find us at Morningside Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, at Grant Park Farmers Market every other Sunday, at Buttermilk Kitchen in Buckhead, and at Ponce City Market's Spiller Park, where they're using our pecan milk to make ridiculously good lattes. The list keeps growing, so we will keep people updated on social media.

Sweetened Almond Milk and Macadamia Milk

What is your outlook for the business -- how would you like to see Treehouse Milk continue its success?

Bess: We’re still pretty early.  Some days we look at each other and say, “can you believe we’ve only been doing this for X number of weeks?”  We pride ourselves on being local and we love Atlanta, so we want to do as much here as we can.  For instance, we’d love to see school cafeterias here offer fresh nut milks.  And we also want to share the magic of Georgia pecan milk with the world.  There are a lot of directions we could take this; that’s what makes it fun.   

Would you like to share any upcoming happenings for Treehouse on the horizon? 

Kate: Well, we're just really excited about what's on the horizon for Treehouse Milk. A significant percentage of households are non-dairy, and there's no other company in Atlanta that is focusing on making fresh, pure nut milks. We think there's a hole to fill, and we're extremely excited to be in the right place at the right time. We both love Atlanta and feel like our brand encapsulates a lot about the ethos of our city, which is embracing a healthy and outdoor lifestyle with a focus on the Beltline, an old-school meets new-school charm, and infusing nature into the urban landscape.

Images Treehouse Milk
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