What’s your story? How did your business start?
Fed up with our daily grind in London, we went on BBC1’s Escape to the Country to find a home in East Anglia and moved to Suffolk in late 2017. We always knew we wanted to move to Suffolk to set up a food/drink business, but it was all about finding our niche. Luke had spent his entire career working in the cheese industry and I had grown up in the hospitality industry, so we pooled our ideas together and eventually settled on Brownie and the Bean. The premise was originally to adapt Luke’s Mum’s secret brownie recipe and sell coffee from our beloved converted horse trailer Beryl, but Covid changed everything for us. Unable to make use of our coffee van, we decided to develop more brownie flavours and do doorstep deliveries across East Anglia. Thankfully things took off really well and we now have a thriving bakery selling a massive range of baked goods and fudge.
How many people are in your team?
On the day-to-day, we have three core team members working across the business, however, we are very fortunate that Luke’s family moved out to Suffolk last year and all help us in peak times. Whether it’s driving, packing, baking, or festival/events, we truly are a family business through and through.
What makes Brownie and the Bean a cool place to work?
The “Kitchen Disco” in the bakery, with the hard wired disco ball and disco lights obviously! Not only do we get to eat some utterly scrumptious treats day in, day out: we do it to the most marvellous soundtrack.
What makes your products unique?
Unlike a lot of our competitions, we handcraft every aspect of the bakes, from the meringues to the salted caramel sauce, the candied oranges and much more. Everything is baked in small batches, with love and we think this shows.
What’s your inspiration behind the baking?
Luke’s Mum is our biggest baking inspiration. We adapted her special brownie recipe originally and the best has sprung from there. To this day, she still tests every single prototype we do. We take her feedback on board and amend it accordingly. If we’re ever stuck on how to perfect a particular flavour, we always get her to create a few versions to give us some inspiration. It’s like having your very own Mary Berry on speed dial!
Best business moment?
I think one of the best moments for us was initially getting our products in at Suffolk Food Hall. It’s such an incredible place to visit, with the highest standard of products, a sort of “Hall of Fame” for food and it’s an absolute honour to be in there amongst the best British produce.
A valuable lesson you have learnt?
There’s more than one way to cook an egg: When the chips are down, there’s always another way to make things work. Determination and problem solving are two key values that every entrepreneur should practice. Never accept defeat and keep pushing forward.
What’s your favourite product?
We honestly love everything we do. We never tire of eating them and creating new flavours really helps to keep us feeling excited about our brand.
The fudge that we’ve just launched is sensational and I also love our blondies in the Summer.
How many products do you make?
We make hundreds and hundreds of different varieties every single year, but generally we probably stick to a core of around 20-30 flavours per month.
What’s your inspiration?
The challenge of creating a brand based on excellent quality ingredients really keeps us fired up. We love working with the seasons to create flavours and we love the idea of simple, yet delicious food.
What’s next for your business?
We have some very exciting Christmas products which will be launching later on this year, but for now, we are focused on growing our wholesale business throughout East Anglia and beyond.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without..
Apart from food (obviously), we definitely couldn’t live without music! It has a central feature in our bakery (our electric disco ball) and is the perfect companion for those late nights of baking and packing.
Favourite song and why?
Charlotte: Anything by Prince is guaranteed to get me boogying, also any form of disco music. But if I had to make a decision, it would have to be Kiss by Prince. It’s impossible to stand still to that number!
Luke: Spaced Out by Cloud One. Fantastic disco tune to bake to!
What’s your best joke?
We’re both absolutely hideous at jokes, but when Luke and I first met and he worked in the cheese industry, and told me that people were constantly telling him cheese jokes. His best was:
What is the best type of cheese to hide a horse in?
You’re a husband and wife team but who does what in your business?
Luke is the baker and I handle everything else, from social media to orders to packing etc. When we first started out, I was going to be helping Luke bake, but he’s such a perfectionist, it was best to just leave him be! We never really designated roles when we initially started, but we both naturally evolved into the areas we were strongest at.