Nuts about Milk
Nuts About Milk is owned and run by Rob Lewis who lives in Toxteth. He became passionate about plant-based milks after visiting his girlfriend in Manhattan and I am fortunate enough to get weekly delivery of the delicious nut milk, so took the opportunity to ask him some questions about his small business and what it is all about. His answers are fascinating and truly inspiring.
How did Nuts About Milk all start and what inspired you to begin?
From 2010 to Jan 2016 I worked as Production Manager and Sound Engineer at the Kazimier Club in Liverpool. I would often work 6 days a week on shows often until very late each night and gradually felt that both my mental and physical health were suffering but as they say “the show must go on”.
As news came down in Autumn of 2015 that the venue would close, a countdown began ticking and that New Years Eve 2015 would be the last party. This triggered a massive shift in my mind, as the space was too good to walk away from, I felt I was being subtly guided from a comfortable, well paid but self destructive situation to a new, exciting but uncertain future.
My Girlfriend (Hannah), a lifelong vegetarian, had opened the door to meat-free living and with NYC having dozens of amazing organic vegan restaurants and delis, I was in awe.
With Hannah being away I also resumed daily meditation which I had dabbled with since 2009 as a way to stave off bouts of heavy depression and loneliness. Nuts about Milk was being born in my mind through this new need for health and connection to community.
When did you decide to start up the company?
After a visit to “Caravan of Dreams” in the Lower-East Side of Manhattan. I tried two sips of an Organic Cashew Milk and was head-over heels. I was vegan on the spot and set about bringing this magic back over the atlantic to my beloved Liverpool.
Where are you based and what does a week at the company involve?
Nuts About Milk is based out of my kitchen in Toxteth, L8. I live in a retired Primary school so luckily I have lots of space. It has been such a learning curve setting everything up. I asked myself the question “is it possible to run an ethical business in this day and age?” So I just got brave and started working on it: daily deep cleans (getting kitchen signed off from the Environmental Health), installing water filtration systems and testing water, researching ever-more local and ethical suppliers is a routine that I truly enjoy.
"I feel like it's a key aspect of stabilising my mental and physical health."
Do you have another job? What do you do and how do you manage doing both?
I’m a 10 year veteran of the live music scene, having toured all around Europe as a musician, live-sound engineer and production manager. The work is in blocks so I can schedule and work around Nuts about Milk, and visa versa. I would love for Nuts about Milk to become self sustaining and for me to be able to employ a team to take over during these periods.
What is your lifestyle like? Do you follow a certain diet?
I’ve done hundreds of hours of research and real-time experimenting into ways to improve my mental and physical health. Being naturally prone to depression and anxiety it was a necessity as I didn’t want my already fragile wellbeing compromised by added pressures from any new dogmatic lifestyle regimens.
Now I do regular yoga and meditation twice a day and have transitioned my diet from Omnivore, to 'Carby Omnivegan', to Raw Ketogenic (Healthy Fats/Low Carbs) Organic Vegan with amazing results. My energy levels are sky-high!
I exercise, walk and obviously have the milk-round deliveries require cycling, early bedtimes and nice early starts, which locks me into a more healthy circadian rhythm.
Do you believe or know of any health benefits of drinking nut milks and if so, did this influence your decision when starting the company?
Freshness and quality become a metaphor for one’s life so by consuming Raw, organic and fresh foods you feel one’s body being infused with all the goodness.
Nuts are also jammed-packed with nutrients and antioxidants so combining raw activated nuts with filtered and remineralised water it’s just bottled bliss.
You mentioned using distilled water, which you filter yourselves if I am right? How does that improve the milk and what benefits do you believe it has?
There is an epidemic of single use plastic going into landfill or washing into our oceans, which has always grossed me out as they take 500 years to decompose. Seeing people litter, especially plastic, fills me with a feeling of dread too.
I felt that with Nuts About Milk I could solve these problems in one fell swoop. Using a remineralised reverse osmosis water filtration system means I never need to use single use plastic again, and the company that provides the system - based in Southport - recycles the used filters every 6 months. I’ve now learned how to install them myself, which is empowering.
From where do you source your nuts and why?
Our almonds are grown in Spain, cashews in Vietnam and are bought from Suma, which is a food co-operative based near Leeds. For those who don’t know about Suma I suggest a search online, they have a wonderful track record in the industry.
Our hemp seed is from an organic co-operative in Oxford called Hempen which, again is an amazing group to support.
The macadamias are grown in Kenya and are from a project in Germany that was set up by a group of school kids as an attempt to start an organic and ethical business.
Our oats are grown in the UK and sourced from Infinity Foods based in Brighton.
Hazelnuts are grown organically in Turkey and sourced from buywholefoodsonline and lastly we have tiger nuts from Spain via buywholefoodsonline, which makes the traditional Spanish drink “Horchata”.
The idea is to grow the business slowly and to then be able to buy bigger quantities of nuts thus reducing the transport-miles and then being more competitive, price-wise, with other less-ethical or non-organic plant milks.
What would you like to achieve with Nuts about Milk this year and where do you see the company going?
The model is to eventually provide customers with their own milkers, personalised glass bottles and water filtration systems and then deliver them a months worth of nuts so they can produce their own milks and then even sell to their neighbours and friends, making it more modular is a way to increase efficiency.
You had a stall at one of the Baltic Market weekends. Is that something you will be doing again?
Definitely, Hannah and I loved the experience but as we both have other jobs there is ultimately pressure to do other things. We’re going to concentrate on home deliveries for now. In the summer we are going to launch “Nuts About” which is a wholesale organic nut and seed delivery service too, which gets us closer to the vision of having customers have their own milkers at home. Watch this space!
What milks are available, in what sizes and how often can your customers purchase?
We have almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, hemp seed and oat, which come in 550ml or 1 Litre reusable glass bottles. We currently deliver by bike on Mondays and Thursdays in the mornings, but can do the evenings if that works better.
We do blends off all milks, almond and hemp is a real beauty. We’re also playing with quinoa at the moment as we can source from the British Quinoa Company based out of my home county, Shropshire.
Where do you deliver to?
As our HQ is in L8 and because we only deliver by bike we have set an upper-limit to our delivery radius of 2.5 miles.
Alternatively you can pick up from their HQ anytime (given 24hrs notice).