NICE CREAM - Vegan Gelato Delivered on your Doorstep
When I had just started my Vegan Food Instagram account, I was selected to taste and review 'NICE CREAM's Home Premium Vegan Gelato. Based in Ehime, family business 'Nourish Japan' creates natural, high quality coconut-based gelato, which up until May this year was only available in restaurants all through Japan, but is now also available for home use!
From home kitchen to 500 stores worldwide
Established in 2016 in Ehime, Nourish Japan is run by Michiko Izumitani, along with her husband and daughter. But the NICE CREAM story does not start there.
Naomi Posner is a US-based Japanese-American and the founder of one of the first vegan gelato mixes available in the US, created when searching for an easy way to teach other people her delicious gelato recipes. When she found a way to make them through pre-made powder mixes, she realized this was a great business opportunity, as not a lot of people had access to this. She emphasizes that rather than "making business", she is passionate about "making changes in society". Dairy- and gluten free, as well as vegan friendly, the mix is suitable for those usually missing out due to allergies, intolerance or dietary lifestyles. The mix quickly became popular and spread to over 500 shops, cafes and restaurants in 7 different countries, within 5 years of establishment.
Faith brought Mrs. Posner and New York-visiting mother and daughter Izumitani together, the both of whom loved her gelato so much, they wanted to bring it back to Japan.
Their collective mission is to spread happiness through delicious ice cream, by providing a high quality option for those who could not enjoy traditional options.
To your front door!
With Nourish Japan, the Izumitani family became the first and sole distributor of the Vegan gelato mix in Japan. They branded it as "NICE CREAM", as it's a nice flavor, nice to your body, nice to the animals and nice ecologically. With this they contribute to spreading a positive message and a delicious flavor, all throughout Japan.
The mix is based on coconut milk and does not include animal milk, eggs, soybeans or rice, making it a great option for not only vegans and vegetarians, but also for those with some of common allergies. With one 2500g bag of the powder, you can make approximately 8000ml of stock solution, i.e. about 80 x 100ml ice cream. With only 141kcal, 3.9g fat and 0.7g protein, the gelato mix is a healthier alternative to similar ice creams that are usually higher in calories. The fats are coming from a healthier source; the coconut, and provided that the final product isn't overly sweetened, it is a great, balanced plant based option. The mix is aimed towards shops, businesses and restaurants who can use it to make their own plantbased gelato on-site with nothing but water and an ice cream maker. Alternatively, they can opt to use e.g. fruit juice to create their own flavor of soft cream! This makes the variations endless and is the exact reason why the mix is so popular among businesses all over the world: An easy mix that allows you to offer plantbased/Vegan, healthier ice cream in any flavor you want?!
On their Instagram page, the Izumitani's demonstrate several flavors, including a coffee-, almond- lemon- and "kawachibankan" flavor - the latter of which is a local Ehime city special, which shows exactly how the mix allows for a creative, customized menu.
At the beginning of 2020 the family realized they could just as easy sell not just the gelato mix, but the finished gelato itself too! With Vegan ice cream in Japan being relatively scarce, and a rising demand for healthier, plantbased products, their offer couldn't come at a better time! With their new branding "NICE CREAM Home Premium", they recruited a number of participants on SNS to test their three flavors: Plain Coconut Milk, Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea. This is when we got selected and sent the EXACT flavor I was dying to try: Matcha!
"More importantly... how does it taste?"
The ice cream arrived frozen solid (props, 'Kuroneko'!). How was I going to get just one serving, without thawing the whole tub? Whereas this is a problem with all larger ice cream tubs, and other frozen foods (I'm looking at you, Omnipork!), I did find that the consistency and flavor are very much impacted when refrozen. So be on top of it; to scoop out your desired portion and get that baby back in the freezer asap! (Or... just eat the whole thing at once, no judgement here).
My second finding, while trying to get in a decent photo, was that... it melts VERY quickly - But don't we all in the Japanese summer?! As mentioned repeatedly on my blog, I am absolutely no food photographer and I'm not the one to portray food-"porn". If I would, you would now see a beautiful, high glass bowl or cocktail glass, filled with the mouthwatering green ice cream, dripping from the sides, topped with chocolate shavings, crunchy granola, sprinkled coconut and a pinch of actual Matcha powder maybe?
But... here's 'my one cute bowl' and my spoonful of cacao nibs, hemp seeds and muesli, which were later recycled into my yogurt at lunch because... sh*t's expensive! (#justbeingreal).
My first impression was that although the coconut flavor is definitely not strong or dominating, people hating coconut will probably not get over this, as the smell and hint of flavor are definitely there. I am personally very particular when it comes to coconut and hate when it's too strong or gritty; it definitely IS NOT in this ice cream.
Loving all things Matcha, I was picturing Stabuck's Matcha latte and other similarly strongly flavored sweets and cookies, before trying this nice cream. It was definitely not as strong as these examples, which, looking at the ingredients, makes a lot of sense:
Ingredients: Coconut Milk Matcha（抹茶）
Vegan cane sugar, NON-GMO coconut, Glucose, Organic Matcha powder, Modified food starch, salt, cellulose gum, Xanthan gum, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Acacia fiber
Although Vegan sugar (! note that regular white sugar is often made with bone char, so this is definitely a plus) is used, the ice cream isn't overly sweet, nor contains unnecessary fillers or flavor enhancements. The flavor comes from organic Matcha powder, making the flavor authentic, and mild. Whereas I like the kick of a strong Matcha flavor, I very much appreciate the clean ingredients, along with their mission to offering a "healthier" and lighter ice cream alternative, that can be enjoyed by all ages and especially during the hot summer.
After a few bites, the ice cream really grew on me and I had to stop myself from defrosting another portion... (whether I succeeded to do so, I'll leave up to your imagination).
Final verdict: I definitely grew to love the Matcha Nice Cream and would recommend it to anyone liking a lighter, healthier alternative to heavy, very sweet and creamy soft cream. I don't think you will easily get sick of the nicecream, even after several portions (not saying I speak from experience....). And if you do like more of a punch, you can of course play with toppings like fruits, nuts, chocolate and whipped cream. Just head over to NICECREAM's SNS pages for inspiration!
What's not to love?
Yes, the product is obviously key! But I love to buy and support companies that are run by passionate and ethical individuals, and looking at NICECREAM's website and SNS pages, they are just that!
Showing a video of how to easily work with the gelato mix? Modestly giving all credit to Naomi Posner and sharing her, rather than their own, photo and story? Blogging about PETA's findings that coconuts could be plucked by enslaved monkeys, while ensuring us the coconuts used in their gelato mix are from a proper, ethical farmer? An in-depth interview in both English and Japanese with Mrs. Posner about the motivation behind the product and their shared mission? Their excitement in sharing new flavor combinations on SNS? Their latest campaign where they will send 4L of icecream to businesses considering switching to plantbased alternatives? And their very honest first introduction to their new Instagram followers, saying they "don't know much about veganism, but are exciting to connect and learn from the Vegan community"...
I love the honesty, authenticity, transparency, passion and family feeling of this business and look forward to try their other flavors in the future!
NICECREAM is a family run business in Ehime, offering a successful plantbased gelato mix, created by US-based Naomi Posner. They this year also started offering gelato's for home use in three flavors, providing a great healthier, vegan and mostly allergen-free alternative to traditional dairy soft creams.
Verdict: A delicious, mild, easy-to-eat icecream with less calories and cleaner ingredients than many traditional alternatives. Their mission is to make their icecreams suitable from children to elderly, and I think they nailed it with the not-overly sweet flavors, that definitely suit the Japanese palate.
➡️ Read all about NOURISH, their story, blog and products here
➡️ Full interview in English with Naomi Posner here