Based in Los Angeles, California, Coolhaus is a brand of super-premium ice cream founded in 2009 by Natasha Case and Freya Estreller on the principle of using food to spark interest in architecture. Coolhaus was built on the concept of Farchitecture (Food + Architecture) and became an artisanal ice cream brand, with the mission statement to "strive to push the boundaries of traditional dessert by creating unique, sweet-meets-savory flavors you can't find anywhere else".
Coolhaus ice cream is made at a 20% overrun compared to the 50% industry standard for super-premium ice cream, giving it a creamier, smoother and richer taste. In a People and Things Mag interview, Case explains that Coolhaus products are "all-natural, handmade and organic whenever possible". Coolhaus uses hormone-free, Real California Milk, and fair-trade chocolate. Coolhaus supports responsible sourcing by using seasonal ingredients to maximize the flavors and engage customers with seasonally-themed marketing campaigns. Coolhaus is also a certified woman-owned business.
In an Inc. Magazine interview by Laurel Mintz, Founder and CEO of Elevate My Brand, Case describes how Coolhaus plans to become "the signature millennial ice cream brand". Coolhaus and its entrepreneurial story has received coverage from CNN Money,CNBC, and USA Today. With inventive flavors such as Milkshake and Fries and Street Cart Churro Dough,InStyle called Coolhaus the "ice cream brand for every craving imaginable".
Norman Bananas Foster pint, named after British architect Norman Foster and composed of banana ice cream and a butter-y rum dulce de leche reduction swirl
While studying architecture at UC Berkeley and then in graduate school at UCLA, co-founder Natasha Case explored a concept she called "Farchitecture", or Food + Architecture. After graduation, she worked as a Disney Imagineer and continued toying with Farchitecture as a hobby—she made cookies and ice cream, and named the combinations after architects. Case met business partner Freya Estreller through friends, who told them they had "the same kind of brain". Estreller liked the idea of architecturally-themed ice cream sandwiches and together they turned the "art project" into a business. Having studied finance at Cornell and worked in real estate development, Estreller helped greatly with financial modeling and business operations.
Coolhaus was founded in April 2009 on the principle of using Farchitecture to "bring architecture to the people". By playfully naming Coolhaus creations after architects and architectural movements, Case hoped to inspire people to talk and learn more about architecture. "We think of ourselves as a marketing company for architects," Case told Architect Magazine. Flavors like "Mintimalism", "Frank Behry", and "Norman Bananas Foster" pay tribute to the Minimalist architectural movement and architects Frank Gehry and Norman Foster. The company name, Coolhaus, is itself a triple entendre, playing off of:
"There's definitely an architecture to the sandwich," Case told NPR. The bottom cookie is the foundation and must be pliable enough not to crumble, and the top cookie must be soft enough not to push the ice cream out when bitten. Case expressed her desire to use the concept of Farchitecture to "bring architectural knowledge to the masses" and shows her interest in design by creating marketing material and packaging for Coolhaus products.
Mintimalism sammie, composed of Double Chocolate cookies and Dirty Mint Chip ice cream
The co-founders launched the company with a $10,000 initial investment: they bought a 20-year-old postal van off Craigslist, converted it into a food truck, and used it to sell ice cream sandwiches at the popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Although the truck had a faulty engine—it had to be towed to the festival and back—exposure to an audience of 160,000 made the outing a success. Coolhaus subsequently went viral with Twitter followers and inquiries from the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets. Case left her job at Disney within a month and a half and committed full-time to Coolhaus.
Since then, Coolhaus has rapidly expanded its range of products and distribution channels, with an increased focus on retail distribution of prepackaged goods. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Case explained that retail distribution allows Coolhaus to reach as many consumers as possible, and gives the company a scalable business model in which "you grow the revenue tremendously without necessarily increasing overhead." Coolhaus went from 3 Whole Foods retail partner stores in spring 2011 carrying 4 SKU's, to over 2,000 by June 2014 and 2,500 by September 2014, carrying 24 SKU's as of December 2017. According to Case, Coolhaus stands apart from its competitors "because of our tri-fold approach in the marketplace: trucks, brick and mortar AND wholesale distribution. I haven't seen any truck diversify like with [sic] have with channels in grocery stores, movie theaters, stadiums and fashion retailers." Estreller estimates that over one million Coolhaus sammies were consumed in 2013 and projects nearly $6 million in revenue for 2014.
Forbes magazine named Case to its "30 Under 30" for Food & Wine, a list of "the field's brightest stars under the age of 30", in 2012. That same year, restaurant surveyor Zagat also recognized Case on its "30 Under 30" list of "rising stars" in New York City's food scene. Co-founders Case and Estreller became engaged in 2011, married in 2012, and made Zagat's Valentine's Day list of "LA's 10 Sweetest Culinary Power Couples" in 2014.
Coolhaus has received widespread attention in newspapers, magazines, television, and social media. Vogue Road Food critic Jeffrey Steingarten stated that Coolhaus "...produces and sells the best ice cream sandwiches in culinary history".Every Day with Rachael Ray conducted a taste test of frozen chocolate desserts, and selected Coolhaus' IM Pei-Nut Butter (named after architect I. M. Pei) as the Best Sandwich. Coolhaus has earned recognition in various Zagat features, and placed second in Zagat editors' 2012 ranking of New York's 8 Best Food Trucks.
Coolhaus' public recognition can be attributed in part to its active participation on social media to engage its customers and cultivate a following. Case explained to Entrepreneur that Instagram is helpful for "sell[ing] people on well-styled images of artfully-prepared food", while Facebook is a great way to address the "clubhouse" of loyal fans. The company's national and local Twitter accounts are used to draw customers to Coolhaus food truck locations and alert them to special flavors of the day. The company also posts videos to its official YouTube channel, and engages customers on Pinterest and Tumblr with product, event, and architectural photos.
Customers can also order Coolhaus products and services online, directly from Coolhaus' official website or via third-party websites such as FreshDirect and Goldbely, which allows ordering of customized sammies. Coolhaus ships frozen desserts by FedEx overnight, packed inside insulated shipping boxes with dry ice.
Coolhaus Ice Cream Book
The Coolhaus co-founders wrote Coolhaus Ice Cream Book with the help of Kathleen Squires, an established food writer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May 2014, it features easy recipes for recreating Coolhaus desserts at home, as well as the story of the company and biographies of famous architects who inspired some creations.
In reviewing the book, the recipe editor for The Kitchn wrote:
These ladies have hit that sweet spot of ice creams that are clever, whimsical, and crave-inducing (which, yes, is the M.O. for most artisan ice cream makers these days), but that are also quite easy to make. You won't spend hours making a cake only to then crumble it up ... No, most of these recipes involve just a few clever mix-ins that pair flavors for surprising creations.
^"Where to Find Coolhaus > Trucks". Coolhaus official site. n.d. Retrieved 2014-10-30. For daily menus and up-to-the-minute details on truck locations, check out our local feeds @CoolhausLA, @CoolhausNY, @CoolhausATX and @CoolhausDFW