The Importance of Eating Earnest 

Andrew Aussie, founder of Solana Beach healthy oatmeal brand Earnest Eats, wants you to eat a healthy breakfast, with a higher consciousness

For marketing vet and former Kashi exec Andrew Aussie, a bowl of oatmeal should be more than simply a quick way to squeeze in a meal in the morning. “I wanted to create something that had a higher consciousness,” Aussie explains. “That’s why we created Earnest Eats. That’s why we called it Earnest Eats.” In addition to making something delicious, Aussie wanted the company to embody our healthy West Coast lifestyle, with a “greater good” philosophy that informs every company decision. “I think of it as a San Diego lifestyle mentality infused in there, and that’s back to the ‘earnestness’ — it’s not just having fun at the beach, but really caring; this idea of doing good by doing better, and that really is a part of what we try to create.”

Headquartered in the Cedros Design District, the company of nine, which Aussie co-founded in 2006 with Mark Mandel, still functions like a family company. The staff includes real family (Aussie’s wife’s company, Solana Beach-based RKPR, even handles their publicity) as well as other ex-Kashi staffers, including Mandel. The product suite includes single-serve cups and multi-serving bags of oatmeals (Aussie calls Cherry Almond his favorite), whole food and granola bars, and a detox oatmeal line, for those looking to eat “clean” without starving on a juice cleanse, all of which are created under the supervision of a dietician and a holistic nutritionist.

With distribution growing nationally (you can find them locally at Sprouts), yet another unique element to the company is where else you’ll find them: coffee shops. Their internal motto — adapt, innovate, overcome — pushed them to reinvent their go-to-market strategy, and they shifted more than half their effort into food service. “Differentiation is not always about product; sometimes it’s about how you go to market,” says Aussie.

Earnest Eats isn’t your run-of-the-mill, just-add-water instant oatmeal packet. “Oatmeal was boring. You tear a package open, it’s half sugar, looks like gruel,” he says. “I wanted to reinvent it.” With already adventurous ingredients from quinoa and amaranth to dandelion and artichoke (yes, really!), Aussie is proudest of the introduction of coffee fruit to his products. After discovering this magical ingredient — the outer “fruit” that’s wasted when coffee beans are extracted from its center — Aussie learned of the health benefits packed into this previously thrown-away by-product: protein, fiber, and antioxidants similar to better known super berry açai. The bonus? With no previous uses, coffee fruit “just piled up where the coffee is harvested,” says Aussie. Activating a new use for coffee fruit not only creates health benefits for the consumer, but also supports coffee farmers who’d previously struggled to find an effective way to dispose of it, while generating additional income for them as well. Add to that the company’s commitment to partnering with International Rescue Committee, in place since nearly day one, and Aussie’s mission is alive and well. earnesteats.com   DEANNA MURPHY