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New mint candy and Blue Bottle coffee-in-a-carton at Natural Products Expo

A new ready-made coffee
Blue Bottle, the high-end coffee, partnered with Clover organic milk for iced coffees.
(Mary MacVean / Los Angeles Times)

Caffeine is an essential at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim — thousands and thousands of food and personal care products and crowds as big as nearby Disneyland. Which is what led me to one of my favorites of the 2014 show last week.

Blue Bottle Coffee and Clover organic milk — together. In a little school-size milk carton, with chicory and sugar. I can hardly wait for these to get to markets, which should happen this year.

Blue Bottle founder James Freeman said he had tried other ready-to-drink coffees on the market and rated them “from terrible to horrible.” His New Orleans iced coffee was popular in Blue Bottle coffee bars, so he set about trying to package it. The cartons don’t have the shelf life of cans and bottles, but he says the quality is much better and it’s a trade-off he’s happy to make.

Another booth I found appealing was that of Mike and Candy Seely, who grow mint in Clatskanie, Ore. Their mint patties and bark were terrific. But they never meant to make candy.

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In 2007, the farm lost $100,000, Mike Seely said. The market for mint had fallen apart. So they went to the Portland farmers market to poke around and see what business they might take up instead.

But what they saw was that no one was selling mint, Seely said.

They returned to their 80-acre farm and decided to try to make another go of it. They grow native spearmint and heirloom Black Mitcham peppermint.

To show prospective customers what they might do with their peppermint, Candy Seely made mint chocolate patties, as an example of how to use mint oil. But when people tasted the candy, they no longer wanted the oil, they wanted her patties.

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Now they make candy, tea, extract and are coming out with an all-natural flea killer for dogs and cats. Their candies include beautiful handmade ribbon candy as well as chocolate sandwich patties and more.

Their four children are taking over the various farm jobs. For now, their products can be found online and in 400 stores, none of them in Los Angeles.

ALSO:

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The great Los Angeles coffee scene

Mary.MacVean@latimes.com

Twitter: @mmacvean

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