Beat the Heat with Coconut Bliss
An Allergen-Free Choice for Ice Cream
Ah, ice cream. That magical dessert that can turn a blistering hot summer day into a blissful one. Though ice cream is delicious no matter how you scoop it, not all frozen treats are created equal. While some companies simply mass produce ice cream, Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss adds a bit more time and care into their products. The Oregon-based company focuses on community and sustainability, all while producing allergen-free ice cream.
Coconut Bliss got its start with a $1.50 hand-crank ice cream maker in the home kitchen of Luna Marcus and Larry Kaplowitz in Eugene, Oregon. They both had food sensitivities, yet they had a passion for ice cream. The couple decided to experiment with different dairy-free ingredients. Luckily for them (and consumers), they discovered the perfect way to make dairy-free ice cream by using coconut milk.
Luna and Larry knew they had stumbled onto something special as soon as they took their first bite. They started with organic coconut milk and agave syrup, and from there added non-GMO, fair trade ingredients to create a variety of flavors, most of which are free of the eight most common food allergens.
Much like the ingredients used to make their ice cream, the company grew organically. They started spreading the word about their ice cream by organizing taste parties where their friends, family, and local community members would gather and taste the new flavors that Luna and Larry created. Since the couple was very active in the local health community, the news traveled quickly and enthusiastically to local stores.
In 2006, Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss made its way into Whole Foods Market. They had finally arrived in the big-name stores. Today, the company is in all Whole Foods Markets in America and Canada, and many other health food stores and conventional supermarkets.
Despite its growing success and popularity, Coconut Bliss maintains the same standards it has had since the beginning, one of which is the commitment to knowing exactly where ingredients originate. The company takes special interest in its two main ice cream ingredients: coconut milk and agave syrup. The company sources coconut milk from a family-owned farm in Thailand that has been growing organically for generations. When the company decided to buy from this farm they wanted to connect with the family, so Luna and Larry visited the farm, met the family, and built a relationship with them.
Coconut Bliss also wanted to establish a relationship with the agave syrup source, so the General Manager of the company traveled to Mexico to learn more. “We’re real people making real food and we want to know the real people who are part of that whole process,” said Elizabeth Reilly, Marketing and Communications Manager of Coconut Bliss. “It’s about establishing and maintaining community, and that is true for all levels in what we do.”
Maintaining a sense of community is not only important for the company’s relationships with its suppliers, but also with its customers.
This idea of community began when Luna and Larry conducted their taste parties in the early stages of the business. From there, it was the local health community in Eugene who helped to get the company off the ground and into health food stores. It is now the communities of allergen-free, healthconscious individuals throughout the nation who have helped make Coconut Bliss such a success.
In return, Coconut Bliss makes a point to give back to the community, whether the company is participating in food expos, providing a blog and forum to discuss gluten-free and allergen-free living, or donating to non-profits. As a tribute to the original tasting parties that Luna and Larry hosted, the company puts on an annual celebration from which 100% of the proceeds benefit educational and sustainability-focused groups.
The practice of sustainability is particularly important to the people at Coconut Bliss. Not only do they use fair trade, organic ingredients, but they also make sure to be economically and environmentally friendly in the production and manufacturing of their ice cream. They do so at their headquarters by composting, recycling everything that qualifies, using part solar or wind energy to power their building, buying recycled paper supplies, and even making employee company lunches using locally grown produce.
“Supporting those practices in the making of our products then expands into a larger vision which we have for our company and its place in the global community,” Reilly said.
Sustainability, community and high quality ingredients are what make Coconut Bliss a step above the average ice cream manufacturer. So this summer, when you want something creamy and cold, remember that with Coconut Bliss you’re not just eating ice cream – you’re becoming part of a community.
Written by Malory Speir