La Familia Hard Ciders Is Giving Our Favorite Agua Fresca Flavors A Boozy Twist
Growing up in a Mexican or Mexican-American family, you probably tasted the sweetness of jamaica in an agua fresca. You’ve also experienced the salty notes of tamarindo when you wanted to have a refreshing drink. Now those nostalgic flavors of your childhood are growing up with the help of La Familia Hard Cider.
Family-owned La Familia is giving people a delicious and boozy taste of our favorite agua fresca flavors.
Photo courtesy of La Familia
La Familia bills itself as the first jamaica and tamarindo ciders in Oregon, and was named the first Latino-owned cider company in Oregon by several cider and craft brewery outlets in Oregon. It might even be one of the only Latino-owned cider producers in the country!
The Oregon-based company is a craft cider brewery started by Mexican-Americans Jose Gonzalez and his wife Shani, along with his two children, JJ, 24, and Jazelle, 22.
Photo courtesy of La Familia
A couple of years ago, after joining his wife on a mini tour of some taquerias, a thought popped into Gonzalez’s head and started brewing. Jose thought up the novel idea of bringing agua frescas into the craft brewery scene.
“[I told my wife], wouldn’t it be great if someone offered ciders with agua fresca,” Jose says.
“We never made a hard cider and believed we could,” he says of how his business idea started to take shape.
Jose was serious about making his agua fresca cider company and sought out the expertise of one of Oregon’s top cider makers to turn his mother’s agua fresca recipes into a bubbly brew.
Once the recipe was perfected, it came to settling on a name for the company, and the family looks inward to their family roots and recipes.
The company officially launched on Cinco de Mayo weekend in 2017 and recently celebrated its two-year anniversary by launching its ciders in a new 12-oz can.
“When La Familia came out, we kept thinking about our family, how we’re doing it for family—let’s just call it ‘la familia.’ The name comes with lots of responsibility,” Jazelle says.
The flavors of ciders the company makes include jamaica, tamarindo, manzana, and their seasonal best seller—guayaba. La Familia’s jamaica cider has won two medals in cider competitions so far.
Each family member has favorite flavor: Jazelle’s is tamarindo, JJ’s is jamaica, and Jose loves the guayaba flavor.
Jose prides himself on using natural ingredients to make all the ciders. He says the recipes include fresh 100 percent apple juice, along with hibiscus leaves for the jamaica cider, tamarind paste for the tamarindo flavor and fresh guava for the guayaba seasonal cider. He says the hardest part at first was getting all the ingredients to Oregon.
“The first challenge was finding the ingredients bc they weren’t commercially available locally. All [the ingredients] come from Mexico, and we found a distributor in California,” Jose says.
Jose adds that the ciders contain no artificial flavors, just some “cane sugar to balance it out a little bit.”
Jose is currently working on opening a tap room in Salem, Oregon and getting more distributors to stock his family’s ciders across the state. La Familia also wants to start distributing and create a tap room in California.
“We want to introduce new flavors—every agua fresca that makes sense with cider,” he says.
“Our goal is to be the Corona of the hard cider world, and grow as big as we can,” he adds.
Besides being the Corona of ciders, La Familia also wants to make an impact in the Latino community of Oregon.
Since its inception, the company has donated to local immigration advocacy groups. In 2017, the company donated to Causa Salem, which was helping DACA youth at the time. In 2018, the company made a donation to Innovation Law Lab, Portland, a nonprofit immigration legal services organization.
A Latino-owned company helping its local community one cider bottle at a time. That’s something to raise our glass to—cheers!