Saturday, February 5, 2011

Yogurtagogo - A Yogurt Boutique

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Yogurtagogo

If a boutique is defined as a specialty store, then Yogurtagogo is definitely a yogurt boutique. Coming on the midtown scene in June 2008, it has become a favorite of many for its combination of tart yogurts, fresh ingredients, special flavors, and being self-serve.

Eric Heffel started the shop with his son with no real experience in the food business. His numerous jobs over the years have ranged from real estate to sales to technical writing. The shop had been his son’s idea and after about a year Eric realized he really enjoyed it, while his son moved on. 

Asked about the flavors, Eric explained that all of the yogurts start out with the same bases, either the cream style or the tart style. Flavors are added in a back room where the key is that they need to be able to stay in suspension in the yogurt base. The flavors might be syrups, purees, extracts, powders, or spices, but they must stay mixed. Sometimes they might experiment with a flavor only to find that it separates when it sits in the hoppers for a long period of time. 

Raspberry Pomegranate Tart

There are six machines at the shop. Four of the flavors are pretty much there all the time: chocolate, vanilla, Eurotart, and raspberry pomegranate tart. Eric said he tried to get away from the basic chocolate and vanilla but found that the customers kept on insisting on them. After all, vanilla is the number one flavor in the U.S. He tried to switch up the chocolate a bit by trying chocolate hazelnut. The flavor was tasty, but just wouldn’t sell. There are just too many folks out there not willing to make an even slight deviation.

The most popular flavors are the red velvet and the raspberry pomegranate tart. Appletini is good enough to come back every so often, mostly in the summer. There are also seasonal flavors like pumpkin. 

Since Eric mixes and creates all his own flavors, I asked him what were the big failures. He said that watermelon mint was great when they made the experimental small batch, but when they tried to upsize it for the machines it just tasted like toothpaste. That was a common problem. Just because something tastes good in the small experiment doesn’t mean that it will when it is upsized. And surprisingly the math doesn’t always translate. You would think that if you had a ratio of 1:1:3 that you could just keep the ratio but increase the portions. Not so. Sometimes it requires throwing an added ingredient that you didn’t have in the small batch to bring the flavors back into balance. 


Over at the toppings table it is the fresh fruit and the mochii that are the most popular. Eric gets all of his product locally. The mochii is made by a company here in town. The produce is always fresh. The only exceptions are the maraschino cherries and the lychees, which come from cans. Certainly fresh fruit that is out of season is expensive. Eric explained that they hunt around for the best prices and if it doesn’t calculate out to be price effective for their self-serve model, then they go without. He’ll go to Costco or Trader Joe’s as much as to the local farmers markets and produce vendors for his produce. 

Not many people realize that there are a few hot toppings over at the opposite corner of the shop. You can find berry and apple cobblers in the small, heated bins. 

If you are walking your dog, stop in and get him a yogurt too. Yogurtagogo is one of the only yogurt shops that carries Yoghund yogurt for dogs. It comes in little cartons and has no sugar. Eric says you would not want to eat it yourself, but it’s very popular with dog lovers who want to treat their dogs.


I asked Eric what made this yogurt trend different from the one that occurred in the late 80’s/early 90’s. He explained that back then it was yogurt that mimicked soft serve ice cream. It was creamy, full of sugar, and not very natural or healthy. This new yogurt is truer yogurt with less sugar and natural ingredients. It’s higher in the probiotics that people want for their health. Also, the tart style didn’t exist back then. Although the tart style found its way to the U.S. via Asia, Eric explained that actually it originated in Italy. There is an ingredient that is added to the yogurt to give it that extra tartness. I had been under the misunderstanding that it was just another version of yogurt. Eric hopes that this new, healthier tart style will be able to survive and not die out like the ones did in the 90’s.

Since Yogurtagogo is an independent store, there is pride in their yogurt, store, and place in the neighborhood. The machines are maintained more often than many other stores and it makes a difference to the quality of the yogurt. The store is always bright with friendly employees. On certain nights you can find a local artist playing music. There’s free wi-fi if you want to hang out with a laptop. And don't forget to bring your dog. 

There's more than one reason to love Yogurtagogo. Their slogan reads, "Create it, enjoy it." That's certainly easy to do when you make your own bowl using the freshest toppings and flavors created on-site with the best quality yogurt.



Disclaimer: I have a trade deal with Yogurtagogo because I truly do love their yogurt.
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