Peanut Butter Americano ~ 5 Years of Making A Difference–One Jar of PB at a Time
The Business: Peanut Butter Americano
The Owner: Jeff Malkoon
The Purpose: Create delicious, nutritious nut butters while focusing on charitable giving
By: Laura Stoddard
Jeff Malkoon is a bit nutty. Don’t get me wrong! He’s a friendly, visionary, philanthropically-minded soul of the best kind—but he’s got nuts on the brain, all the time. Peanuts, to be exact. The obsession started about five years ago when he was living in Uruguay, volunteering with a nonprofit organization called TECHO (transitional housing builders in Latin America). While there, he came upon a mystery of sorts, and set about trying to solve it. He learned that Uruguay grew and exported massive amounts of peanuts (most likely to be made into peanut butter) but noticed that none of the locals actually ate peanut butter. It was nowhere to be found. And that struck Jeff as very odd, especially since Uruguay is where the peanut was first cultivated 3,000 years ago.
“Children were going to school with Dulce de Leche on their sandwiches,” he says, “which is delicious, but it has no nutritional value. I couldn’t figure out why they were growing peanuts but not eating peanut butter. It’s protein rich and has a lot of great health benefits.”
He learned that Uruguay sends its peanut crop to the United States (to be made into brands like Skippy and Jiff), and then the U.S. exports those big-name nut butters to the rest of the world. So why not back to Uruguay as well? Well, very simply, Jeff learned, because Latin Americans don’t like the way our peanut butter tastes. They like Dulce de Leche, they like Nutella, they like sweeter, creamier things. “So when I started to make peanut butter,” he says, “I developed flavors that were a direct response to that, and our trajectory from the beginning has been to bring a more palatable nut butter to the world.”
Jeff became so obsessed with the idea of creating a delicious, nutritious peanut butter that would appeal to the masses, that he almost extended his stay in Uruguay indefinitely. “I told my friends, ‘I don’t think I’m going back to the United States—I’m going to stay and start this company’. I lost my mind for peanut butter! I was so fascinated by this mystery, by this idea.” Eventually, one of Jeff’s friends shook a bit of sense back in him. “So, I came back to the states, which made sense anyway. I mean, you have to create it, and that takes resources, so I decided this was going to be a long-term plan.”
Back home in Arizona Jeff got started right away. He figured he could probably produce about five pounds of nut butter at a time and start selling at farmers markets. And so, with only the food processor in his mother’s kitchen, a whole lot of peanuts, and a grand vision, the business was born. Five years later, Peanut Butter Americano isn’t just surviving—it’s thriving. Jeff’s peanut and almond butters are now a staple at festivals, farmers markets, and other foodie events around the valley (where they generally sell out), but they aren’t just sold locally.
“We primarily do wholesale,” says Jeff, “So we’re focused on selling to retailers like Sprouts, Wholefoods, and Fry’s. We’re trying to get into the exporting world too. We just did our first export deal to Canada (we got into 110 stores across the country), and we’ve been starting to attend national consumer trade shows and conferences—really getting out there. We just went up on Amazon Prime last summer, which is going really well. And we do retail out of our headquarters when people request it. They can special order their nut butter and pick it up.”
PB Americano offers six creamy, sometimes crunchy, options: Choco Blanco, Dark Chocolate, Classic Almond, Cinnamon Almond, Classic Peanut Butter, and Cinnamon Honey (flavored with local honey). I’ve tried them all and let me just say this—I think even the people of Uruguay would approve! Not only are they scrumptious, but they’re also healthy. “Everything we make,” says Jeff, “is under four grams of sugar and under three net carbs. I wanted to make something that was delicious, but still healthy; without just dumping a bunch of sugar in. We make these every week right here in the valley, roasted and ground, so they are 100% natural nut butter.” With non-dairy, non-gluten, and sugar-free options, these are literally a hit with everyone.
Along with making an awesome product and running a successful business, Jeff believes in giving back; therefore, Peanut Butter Americano gives back. To date, through it’s giving arm, Fund for the Americas®, PB Americano has donated over $14,500 (a summation of both monetary contributions and donated nut butter), to further its mission of aiding community development, education, children’s services, and poverty relief efforts across the Americas.
“[After all],” says Jeff, “the entire idea for our company was inspired by TECHO and their work. PB Americano was born as much as a way of continuing to serve their relief efforts as anything else. We had the opportunity early last year to visit their regional headquarters in Colombia and Costa Rica and learn more about how these dollars have been spent. Our expanded giving also includes organizations like St. Vincent de Paul, St Mary’s Food Bank, Jewish Family Services and the wonderful Andre House Soup Kitchen, where we coordinated a volunteer event and served 400+ meals to folks living on the streets of Phoenix.”
As this is PB Americano’s fifth anniversary year, they’re celebrating with special promotions, events, and giveaways throughout 2018. Jeff always has a few new ideas in the works, and this year they’ve started putting “Golden Tickets” in one random online order a month. If you’re the lucky customer who finds the Golden Ticket, you win prizes ranging from gift cards to free nut butter to apparel. They like to keep things fun at PB Americano, so why shouldn’t loyal customers get to join in too? For more information on the 5th Anniversary, or to sign up for their newsletter or upcoming sponsored volunteer projects, visit www.pbamericano.com/celebrating-five-years.
Jeff Malkoon is a class act, and living proof that it’s okay to be a little nutty.
eat | drink | share | peanut butter
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