Entertainment

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.

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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!

READ: U.S. Beer Consumption Has Forced People In Mexicali To Fight Against A Major Brewery From Threatening Their Water Supply

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Topo Chico Just Released Its Alcoholic Hard Seltzer Lineup And It’s Already On People’s Shopping Lists

Culture

Topo Chico Just Released Its Alcoholic Hard Seltzer Lineup And It’s Already On People’s Shopping Lists

It’s safe to say that pretty much anything sparkly is having a moment. What started off as the sparkling water craze a few years ago with brands like LaCroix and Bubly, has now moved onto hard seltzer.

With all the commotion it’s hard not to miss the fizzy drink sensation taking over our mini-fridges and supermercados across the country. Now, Coca Cola (which owns iconic the iconic Mexican brand, Topo Chico) is getting in on the trend with its own Topo Chico hard seltzer.

And although I’m not one to usually follow trends, this one seems like one that many of us will want to get behind.

Topo Chico is stepping it up with a new line of alcoholic hard seltzers.

Following in the footsteps of hard seltzer mega weights like White Claw and Truly, Topo Chico is hoping to capitalize on its cult like status with the release of its new hard seltzer lineup.

The iconic Mexican brand (based out of Monterrey but now owned by Coca Cola Co.) has officially launched its debut line of hard seltzer drinks in several countries around the world.

It’s also worth noting because this marks the first time time in years that Coca Cola will be selling alcoholic beverages. The soda giant sold off its wine business in 1983, per the Wall Street Journal. This will be the first time in decades that the beverage giant sells alcohol in the U.S. — and what a fitting time to do so.

So far, the hard seltzer is available in Brazil and Mexico and will hit U.S. shelves in early 2021.

Rightfully so, Topo Chico is initially rolling out the product in Latin America with Mexico City, Puebla, Acapulco, Tijuana, Guadalajara and Monterrey getting the product in Mexico; while Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo will get it in Brazil.

As far as flavors, we’re looking forward to three gluten-free ones, including Tangy Lemon Lime, Strawberry Guava, and Pineapple Twist. The packaging is cool too: the hard seltzer ships in sleep aluminum cans.

And the new drinks are expected to live up to their namesake with a 4.7% alcohol by volume (which is higher than most beers) and just 100 calories per can.

A Coca Cola spokesperson said in a statement that “Topo Chico Hard Seltzer will appeal to drinkers who are looking for a refreshing, lighter alternative to other higher-calorie, higher-sugar alcoholic beverages. Most hard seltzer fans are migrating from beer, so this growth will be incremental to our business.”

Topo Chico only just recently expanded across the U.S. but it’s long been a favorite in Mexico.

Topo Chico has long been a popular water brand across Mexico and in a handful of U.S. states. It’s already carved out a niche market that has made it a cult favorite in places like Austin, TX. Popular for it’s “throwback image” and cool design, Topo Chico has seen massive growth, over the last year U.S. sales jumped 39 percent to nearly $130 million, according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.

The secret behind Topo Chico is its mythical origins. The water is sourced from a limestone spring concealed under a mountain in northeastern Mexico. The drink was built on a legend of the thermal waters of the Cerro del Topo Chico, which is where the drink got its name. The story goes that the hidden spring water cured an Aztec princess’ illness. While there’s no way to verify the myth, Topo Chico indeed does come from the same underground spring since 1895.

And as the brand gains recognition across the U.S., it seems only natural that the company would start to add more products to its lineup. In fact, recently the company also released a “lemon-lime” version of its water that’s very much like a limonada.

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These Latina-Owned Businesses Are Winners Of The El Pollo Loco Grants

Fierce

These Latina-Owned Businesses Are Winners Of The El Pollo Loco Grants

El Pollo Loco announced a grant program to help Latina-owned businesses in the Los Angeles area. The grant, which is $10,000 and mentorship to grow their businesses, went to several businesses ran by Latinas. Covid-19 has devastated the small business community and women have been the hardest hit. El Pollo Loco’s grants offered some businesses a necessary lifeline.

Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen

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Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen started in 2013 and aims to offer people healthy juices to help with their own health goals. Tatiana Pacheco’s own journey in weight loss with the help of juices inspired the company to be.

“It means a lot for AHK and we are going to be forever grateful for all the support we received from our clients, friends, followers and family,” Pacheco said. “The amount of love was unbelievable during this contest. I cried with every single nomination because they all had a special memory or reason to nominate AHK.”

Milpa Grille

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Desyi Minera Serrano created Milpa Grille to connect people with their Mesoamerican ancestors through food. The most important part of the Milpa Grille experience is the use of the all-important ingredient: corn.

“This El Pollo Loco [grant] is huge for us. It will ease my mind knowing that we have the fund to catch up to those bills that piled up during COVID. But most importantly that you have organizations/companies that are willing to help and assist others during a time where the hospitality industry has been hit the hardest,” Minera Serrano says. “Having such a huge company like El Pollo Loco help us professionals is such a privilege. We’re going to ensure that the professional help is applied to Milpa not only to better us as a team but also see how we can share what we applied so we thrive as a community.”

Alchemy Organica

Chef Denise Vallejo is a first-generation indigenous Xicana who is bringing plant-based foods to everyone who finds her on social media. Alchemy Organica is a pop-up restaurant, lifestyle brand, and product line with roots in the plant-based heritage of Mexico.

“My main focus has always been the creative. I consider myself an artist first and this business cannot exist without the passion I feel for my art. However, I look forward to having expert business & financial advice to support me as I continue to grow. I come from a very humble background & working class family,” Vallejo says. “There’s so much for me to learn about running a sustainable business & becoming financially literate. I grew up seeing my father self-employed & running his own businesses, but I often wonder how much more successful his businesses could have been if he had access to more resources. It feels like I’m being supported by the universe to break generational curses now.”

Yucas LA

For decades, ‘Mama’ Socorro Herrera has been offering delicious bites from the Yucatan and people cannot get enough. According to their website, Mama and her husband Jaime first got customers by promising that they’d love it or they’d get double their money back.

Mama was touched to see the letters of love a support they received in the nomination process for the grant. Mama says that the grant to Yucas LA has “provided a breathing space financially, and an invaluable opportunity to be mentored in a specific area of business. I feel like I’ve been allowed free rein of the candy store! The campaign itself has generated a buzz that improved business.”

Café Santo

Owners Pilar Castañeda and Marlon Gonzalez are giving people a wonderful taste of Latino coffee culture with their coffee cart. The pop-up coffee business is also in the process of creating a modern Oaxacan coffee shop in California.

“We’ve put all of our heart and soul to bring our community quality coffee and a great experience to take home,” Castañeda says. “This grant will help Café Santo reach the next step in our journey, using these funds towards opening our first contemporary Oaxacan coffee shop in the Eastside of LA. El Pollo Loco’s professional mentorship will help guide us in building a solid foundation for our growing small business, something that will create long-lasting change for us as an emerging business.”

La Llorona Bakes

Adriana De Casas’ business, La Llorona Bakes LLC, is an example of a hobby becoming a profitable career. It was the kind of hobby that went from YouTube tutorials to making money with the support of friends and family.

“It means the world to me that friends, family, and customers took the time and effort to nominate me. What may just be one post to them, it means everything to me,” De Casas says. “It means they believe in my dreams, that they support me wholeheartedly. But more so, it’s honestly just reassuring like I can do this, I AM doing this.”

East Los Sweets

Baking was a part of Laura Martinez’s life since she was younger. The LA Central Bakery has been in her family since 1984 and working in a kitchen was never her plan. However, it quickly became where she was the most creative.

Martinez is grateful for the El Pollo Local Grant for giving her a chance, as a one-woman operation, it make investments in her business.

“Since gatherings are on a smaller scale because of Covid, this grant will help me buy equipment that would have taken me twice as long to save up from my orders,” Martinez says. “El pollo grant also provided finance/accounting mentorship that will help me further grow more as a small business.”

Todo Verde

Jocelyn Ramirez is a woman of many talents, including a deep knowledge of plant-based cooking. The college professor, chef, yoga teacher, and businesswoman is on a mission to create delicious plant-based foods deeply rooted in the flavors and techniques of Mexico and South America and they might be coming to a grocery store near you.

“This grant is going to our payroll for our team and will also help us continue to pivot our business,” Ramirez says. “We have been dreaming of launching consumer packaged goods available in grocery stores for the last couple of years, but have been too busy to get it off the ground. Now, we are ready and working with an amazing team to make it all happen!”

Salsaology

Lori Sandoval created Salsaology in 2013 when she was fresh out of college and needed to create a career. She knew that food was the path but didn’t plan on culinary school. With that idea, Salsaology was born in her kitchen.

“The response from our customers and friends was a humbling experience to me and the team. We feel inspired by everyone’s support; it has given us a gust of wind to keep going especially through these difficult times,” Sandoval says. “We really do strive to service and offer our community food that is clean and good for you without compromising our culinary traditions. So when we see this outpour of love and support, it motivates us to keep showing up for our community.”

READ: El Pollo Loco Announces First Round Of Latina Business Owners To Win $10K Grants

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