Yoi, a brand-new plant-based food and beverage company, has launched in Bay Area independent grocers this month with its one-of-a-kind Probiotic Nut and Seedmilks. Yoi crafts its deliciously tart and subtly flavored beverages in small batches from simple organic ingredients including almonds, coconut, and pumpkin seeds.

"We're thrilled with the beverage that we created," shared Ellie Wells, co-founder. "It was a non-negotiable for us that Yoi be organic and with a great nutritional profile — a high count of probiotics plus prebiotic fiber and plant protein, without added sugar — while also tasting good. So we went through quite a few different ideas and iterations before we landed on the products we wanted to bring to market." 

In fact, "good" is actually the company's namesake — Yoi means "good" in Japanese. In creating their company, Wells and co-founder Tosh Nakagawa were inspired by the ancient art of Japanese fermentation and the concept of ikigai. "Ikigai means 'your reason for being,' or what gets you out of bed in the morning," said Nakagawa. "We want to make products that help people feel good so that they can do good. That is our ikigai."

Finding their shared ikigai was destiny: After working together in the dairy industry for over a decade, Wells and Nakagawa ironically found themselves and their families moving to a primarily plant-based diet. They noticed their communities doing the same: from cutting back on meat and dairy and incorporating more plants into their diets to going full-fledged vegan. Reasons cited for making the switch included sustainability, animal welfare, and overall improvement of their health. "We saw the opportunity and thought, 'How can we apply our knowledge and experience in cultured dairy foods to create healthy and tasty plant-based cultured foods?'" explained Nakagawa. 

Today, people can find Yoi Probiotic Nut & Seedmilks in local independent retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The 10oz bottle is offered in Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Pineapple, and Cacao Nib flavors for $4.99. Yoi is also available in a large 23oz bottle in Plain Unsweetened and Vanilla Bean for $8.99.