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Joe The Baker

What inspired you to set up a bakery?
In short, my love for baking bread, especially sourdough. But I also had the desire to make a start in a new kind of business. Something simple, that was good and nourished the community around me. My original idea was to create a soup product, called 'just soup' but, down the line, I could see it becoming soulless, the competitive marketplace just put me off. It took me 4 years, and some self-growth, to realise what I wanted to do, to create something personal of my own that could be wholesome for my community.

Who buys your fresh local produce?
Everyone, I’m fortunate enough to have a very wide customer base. People of all ages love sourdough, from the elderly to teething babies, who chew on the heels of the loaf. Apparently, it's very comforting. I sell through a collection of retailers and restaurants in the town, but my market stall on a Saturday morning is very popular. I use the time to sell my bread and make connections in my community, all types of people from different ethnicities and economic backgrounds come to buy the bread. There is a blossoming Syrian community in Enniskillen and I’m trying to make a connection with them so we can eventually swap some recipes!

Have you noticed an increase in interest in sustainable food after the pandemic?
I’m not sure, that’s a very hard question for me to answer. I know during stages of strict lockdowns, when I could keep the stall open on a Saturday, it felt very important to my community, more so than ever before, to have those chats with people. I felt like a priest in a way, I was the only point of contact for some people. As things opened up, this obviously changed. I’m not sure if there has been a dramatic increase, but I think any interest is positive and, even if 1 or 2 more people have joined the conversation, I’m happy.

What are your best sellers?
The bread I make the most of is the traditional sourdough, using organic wheat and rye flour. I make 10 times more of that than any other bread combined. My morning bun, which is naturally leavened pastry, is also really popular, its like a lighter flakier cinnamon bun. Although, my favourite breads to make are baguettes and bagels. I find it so fun because of the intricacies that go into making them.

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