Boo: Starbucks is dropping free soy for Gold Card members!  »

I got two separate emails about this from irritated readers, and it appears to be true—you can see they casually add it at the bottom: “We’re saying so long to the free soy…” uh, thanks for the unapologetic heads up.

This isn’t the end of the world but as you know, I HATE being charged extra for soy. And I understand that many people signed up for this rewards program specifically because of the free soy, so yeah, they can be irritated. It’s bullshit.

Oh and the last time we talked about this, someone pointed out that the coffee shops they’ve worked at charge extra for soy because it takes more labor to make soy drinks. They have to clean out the milk pitcher so there’s no dairy milk residue or whatnot and that takes extra work. Can’t they just have a designated pitcher for soy? And I’m sure there’s a lot of things they make that vary in labor demand but they don’t change the cost based on that. People wouldn’t like that. But for soy, it’s just an accepted practice to charge more and we can’t just order something different. Bullshit!

You can go voice your opinion on their "idea zone" and you can sign this petition if you have a sec.


Which coffee shops don’t charge extra for soy milk? Let’s make a list!  »

Beautiful coconut milk latte made for me by my dear brother. He’s fancy, right? It’s beautiful.

Reader Toshio emailed me the other day:

I was wondering if you’d consider posting a list of the cafes in SF that don’t charge extra for soymilk. The only one I know of is Peace Cafe on Haight Street, but there must be more. I would walk extra blocks just to avoid the charge. Much appreciated!

Let’s ask the readers! Who knows of a coffee shop in S.F. (or beyond) that doesn’t charge extra for soy milk?

Is there a legitimate reason for charging more for soy milk? It’s generally $.50 extra to get soy milk at a coffee shop. I’ve looked at dairy milk and soy milk prices online and it does seem soy milk is a bit more expensive—not more expensive than organic dairy milk, but maybe they are all only getting non-organic. But even non-organic is only like $.40 per gallon more expensive. That’s not nothing, but the cafe isn’t using more than a gallon of soy milk in your latte. If they really want to charge more because the soy milk they buy is more expensive, then it shouldn’t be more than a few cents per coffee, if we’re actually trying to make up the price difference.

Moreover, dairy milk prices seem to fluctuate quite often and kind of drastically. If we are going by this system of milk that costs more for the cafe costs more for you, when dairy milk prices go up, there should be an extra charge, no? But they don’t do that—people wouldn’t put up with it. But we soy milk drinkers don’t have the same kind of options as dairy-drinkers so we’re pretty much stuck with whatever they want to charge us. Bastards! They are exploiting our dietary needs!

I say to you, no more! Screw these extra charges! Next time they charge you $.50, you give them two pennies and say that is all they’re getting! Better yet, we should all walk out of our way to support the non-exploitative establishments! It’s time to RISE UP! Rage against the soy milk surcharges!


Find the real milk? If it’s all the same to you, I’ll pass  »

Oh, the food lobby. In its latest move, the California Milk Processor Board is trying to discredit milk alternatives like almond and soy milk with a new website that asks you to “find the real milk.”

Anybody who regularly enjoys milk alternatives knows that non-dairy—a.k.a. non-cruelty—milks don’t look the same as the stuff we take from cows, but my mother always told me not to judge things by how they look. When it comes to what I mix with my Cocoa Camino hot chocolate, I prefer to judge by factors like an absence of cholesterol, the presence of a nice dose of protein or omega-3 fats, and the fact that my favorite dairy-free milks got into my fridge by way of neither the callous removal of male calves from their mothers minutes after birth, nor the non-therapeutic application of hormones and antibiotics to dairy cows.

I’ll give them this: Milk producers have done a bang-up job of convincing the general public that milk is the perfect food, one we must all have in our diets lest we shrivel up and blow away. This totally ignores the millions of people around the world who don’t consume milk after they are no longer breastfed, and who do just fine for it. Many people can’t consume dairy, due to allergies or intolerance, and they are also perfectly healthy without it in their diets. Dairy’s association with weight loss has also been overstated.

The fact is, there are no nutrients found in milk from cows or any other mammal that we can’t get in our diets in another way, and there are plenty of things—especially in milk from factory-farmed animals—in cow’s milk that we’d all be better off without.

So what’s your favorite milk alternative? Mine’s almond milk, for sure. If you want to avoid additives, just do some label-reading—the extras aren’t in all non-dairy milks, contrary to what the Got Milk site implies. And better still, even a culinary fool like me can make homemade almond milk!

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.

[photo by Luca Argalia via Flickr]


Hodo Soy Beanery’s new kiosk makes the Ferry Building worth entering!  »

Norm and Joe want to sell you tofus!

You’ve seen them at farmers’ markets around the Bay Area, hocking their delicious soys. You’ve hidden incriminating toothpicks in your pocket and covered your face with a scarf so that you could go grab another sample of their spicy yuba strips. You’ve considered selling out to the man so you could afford to eat this magical stuff every day. And now, ladies and gentlemen, you will drag your asses to the Ferry Building, past the “Praise the Lard” t-shirts and the innumerable fancy cheese shops, in order to patronize the brand-spanking-new Hodo Soy Beanery kiosk that is open as of Tuesday.

The soy has arrived, and it is good.

Hodo, which is based in Emeryville West Oakland, sells its soy milk, tofu, yuba (a.k.a. tofu skins, a.k.a. chewy manna from heaven), and some prepared foods at area markets. But they’re kicking it up a notch with their kiosk, offering new grab-and-go foods that you can only get there. Foods like forbidden rice pudding ($4), Scharffen Berger chocolate mousse ($4), yuba Kung Pao salad ($7), the sky is falling sandwiches (vegan egg salad on Vital Vittles bread, $7), and soy custard fruit parfaits ($4).
Hodo gave me free cups of the rice pudding and chocolate mousse to try, and I can report that they are both worth eating. The pudding uses black rice and lots of cardamom, and includes coconut and golden raisins suspended in the impressively creamy tofu base. Except for the sugar blast, it’s almost healthy, but so clearly dessert. Win.

The mousse was less intensely chocolately than I had hoped, but again won big on texture. I do love me some creamy tofu.

The kiosk also has exclusive drinks, including chocolate soy milk ($3), Thai iced tea ($3), and a kale avocado smoothie ($4). They gave me a free bottle of that last crazy-sound one, because it’s Joe the tofu-seller’s favorite. I found its serious undertones of cucumber and very mild sweetness both refreshing and filling. But it involves chewing chunks of kale and thus is neither suitable for beginners nor for people on a first date. Luckily I’m a pro with no one to impress so I downed the whole bottle in one sitting.

Nearly everything the stand offers is vegan (some of the granola they sell contains honey), and most of it is gluten-free as well (not the sandwich bread). They’re open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. They take cash or credit cards with their cute little iPad register. And for the moment at least, Hodo will still be doing the farmer’s market thing outside on Saturdays, in addition to the permakiosk indoors.

Main bummer: Because of Ferry Building and health code rules, they’re not able to offer samples at the moment. Let us hope they overcome these limitations.

Coming soon: recipes cards for some of the new products so you can learn to make them at home. As the proverb says, “Give a man some tofu, he eats for a day. Teach a man to tofu, and he can throw stellar dinner parties and invite you.” Or something like that. Carry on.

Sorry, Pepples Donuts, your kiosk makes the Ferry Building worth entering too, but you were closed at 6 p.m. today and also didn’t bribe me with free food.


GUEST POST: Recipe: Cheap & delicious soy milk!  »

Why blow $5+ on a two-liter carton of soy milk when making two liters of soy milk on your own would cost a fraction of that? Moreover, making soy milk is MAAAD easy, though a little time-consuming. Below is the unscientific way mom taught me. One thing to note, this natural way of making soy milk with not make it taste like regular Silk Soy Milk. The taste and consistency is closer to Silk Light.

Ingredients & Equipment:
Soy Beans
Water (filtered if you like)
Cloth strainer
Large pot

Tip: Buy your dried soy beans from Chinatown; they’re crazy cheap! But if you are really into organic, see if your local organic market has them. I recommend buying in bulk. I can’t tell you exactly how many dried beans will make however much soy milk because I’ve never really bothered to use standard measurements when I make soy milk. I’m just usually prepared to refrigerate all the milk I make, as you should be.

1. Soak the soy beans overnight.

2. The following morning, drain the soy beans.

3. Blend drained soybeans with water, in a 1:4 soy beans:water proportion, for about a minute. Measure in cups or whatever; Mom taught me in terms of rice bowls.

4. Drain the mixture through the cloth strainer and squeeze out all the milk from the pulverized soy beans—a.k.a. okara—into the large pot. [Save the okara in a separate container; you can use it for many other vegan recipes!]

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the beans have been blended.

6. The soy milk in the large pot isn’t ready for consumption yet as it is raw! Put the pot on the stove and bring to a rolling boil; then let simmer for five to 10 minutes. When done, the soy milk should not have a “raw” taste.

7.  If you like your soy milk sweetened, add sugar after simmering but while the heat is on. I think a cup of sugar will do for a large soup pot, but sweeten to your taste.

8. Turn off heat. If you like your soy milk flavored with vanilla or something, add at this point [Ed.: cookie dough soy milk is possible!?]. Let soy milk cool.

9. Once cooled, drain the soy milk into a pitcher (or whatever kind of container you’re using) to store it. If a skin has formed on the top of the soy milk, just remove it.

10. Refrigerate and use at will!

Today’s fabulous guest post is brought to you by Daniel W.K. Lee! Daniel is a burgeoning cultural juggernaut. He gives sex advice as a “Wise Guy,” works “pimping,” and shares vegan recipes here! He is a writer and artist living in New York City.


Review: Ritual Coffee Roasters!  »

Ritual makes all right coffee. They charge 50 cents extra for soy milk, and I’ve never seen soy milk on the bar for drip coffee, though I imagine they’d give you some out of an open Tetra Pak (TM).

They are really, really proud of their coffee, the espresso especially, but the reason I go there is because they sell People’s Donuts, which have become more and more delicious the longer they’ve been in business, and this vegan sherry cake that no one seems to know the provenance of but most everyone agrees is excellent. It comes in standard (yellow) and chocolate flavors, and you can’t go wrong either way. With People’s Donuts it is always a fun surprise to see what flavors are available, and which of those flavors looks the best, and a lot of the time the Ritual employee will have as much knowledge as you on the donuts—i.e., you’re both eyeballing them—so don’t be afraid to say that you want the on the left in the back, or wherever, because they stack them on a plate all willy-nilly and if you want the only chocolate one, that helpful employee might have to move some other donuts around for you.

We will give People’s Donuts its own review later on; they definitely deserve one! For now, know that they are good and tasty and available at Ritual for $2.50 a donut, the average price citywide.

As for the coffee, OK, I don’t know. The drip coffee is fine; better to take it to go and use your soy creamer at home, I think, if you are partial to cream in your coffee; I am, particularly with Ritual’s, which gives my delicate tum a terrible ache when I drink it without whitening it down. If you take it black, then why not stay? Here’s why not: no atmosphere. It’s often very hot, and loud, not just because of the machines but the music (80 percent of the time good!) and the yap yap yap of the patrons, some of those jerks will NOT shut up. Granted, it is not a library, but when everyone around you is silent, maybe you don’t have to talk at volume level 25, you know? Ugh, loud people, it is so hard for them to realize the difference between THE LEVEL OF THEIR VOICES and the level of a normal person’s voice. It is all right when you want to talk at loud bars/shows/&c. but Ritual is none of those places. Shut it, jerks.

Ritual espresso is very bitter, and quite often tastes burnt. Why is this? They go on and on about how they were a runaway success, roasting their own coffee and training their baristas to be AWESOME and ORIGINAL and MAKE FANCY DESIGNS IN THE FOAM, but I swear every single flat white I had in New Zealand—essentially a latte—was tastier and creamier and better foamed than anything I’ve had at Ritual, and there were no delightful seitan cheesesteak sandwich shops or fancy gourmet non-dairy-ice-cream-selling groceries across the street from the place where this work of art came from. Just a big glacier. Yet, everywhere, even at highway rest stop cafes where there was not one vegan food item, there was vegan soy milk and someone with the skills to really foam it. Having never had a espresso drink made with dairy milk at Ritual, I cannot speak to the baristas’ ability to foam cow’s milk, but if they are good at that and just aren’t trying with the soy…? I don’t know what the damn hell ass problem is, but I’m tired of paying extra for soy milk and getting inferior foaming. Either bring your A-game, or stop charging the extra money, or WHY NOT BOTH, because COME ON, JERKS, how much money are you losing on those Tetra Paks that unopened stay good FOREVER that you have to gouge the vegans and the lactose intolerant for our conscientiousness and/or dietary needs.

The sherry cake is really good though! Ideally, get sherry cake at Ritual to go and make coffee at home, allowing you to have delicious coffee exactly the way you want it AND sherry cake at the same time in quiet and comfort. Besides, Ritual has free wifi, but no outlets, so it’s not like you’re encouraged to stay there to work unless you’re talking over everyone and everything else anyway, and we already established how obnoxious that is. Hide yourself away, watch television shows on the computer in your pajamas, dip sherry cake in your coffee, maybe gluttonously eat two pieces and feel all warm and good and full. There’s no place like home when you’ve got quality baked goods. And are an agorphobe, but focus on the sherry cake, Ritual’s the only place in the city that sells it.

[people’s donuts photo via the studied casual; flat white photo by the author]

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