Founded in 2010, by foodie father-daughter duo Chris and Joanna Brennan, Pump Street Bakery is situated in a highly Instagrammable pink building in the beautiful Suffolk village of Orford. In 2012, they started making their own chocolate and have been setting mouths watering far beyond the East Anglian countryside ever since.
As you can now pop a bar of Pump Street’s unspeakably good chocolate into your Papier greeting card order, we wanted to get to know Joanna and Chris a little better. So we had a little chat to hear how they find working en famille.
Joanna: Pump Street Bakery evolved out of my father’s baking hobby and my desire to open a café. My father had been baking at home for some time and was experimenting with new recipes and bigger batches, but finding he had far too much bread to eat! So he began to sell it at the local market.
The demand for real bread was far greater than we had anticipated, and as I had always wanted to open a café, we began to dream about how the two would work together. Serendipitously, a space became available in the village and it seemed perfect for our dream bakery. We opened almost a year later. (It needed some work!)
Chris: About a year after the bakery opened, Joanna bought me some single origin chocolate from various craft makers who had emerged in the US and UK. We used to sit around the dinner table and taste them, comparing the flavours and exploring our preferences.
I found it fascinating that like bread, chocolate is very simply made using one ingredient. It depends on that ingredient (the cocoa beans) and fermentation for its final flavour. I had to try making some of my own. It started small, playing around making micro batches with just a few beans, and then in 2013 we launched our first three bars.
Joanna: My dad sees things differently than I do. He has a very analytical, process-driven mind, whereas I am more intuitive. I think we push each other to see everything from both angles which is really important. Especially when you run a business like ours that involves both highly technical production and elements like sales, marketing and customer experience.
Chris: It’s occasionally difficult because Jo doesn’t work in the same way I do. I like to tackle something then and there, and get it done. She likes to take more time to consider everything. I get impatient sometimes.
Joanna: I think we have disagreements a lot more than we would if we were just colleagues because we know each other so well. Also, at this point we have been doing this for so long, we know that we are not ever going to fundamentally have a problem with each other. Sometimes we just both feel very strongly.
Chris: In the ten years since we opened, Joanna has learned so much about business. When we started I had a thirty-five year career at IBM behind me and Joanna’s background was as a Speech and Language Therapist. She has learned how to run what is no longer a small, village café but a nationally-known brand, whilst still retaining the ethos of its origins.
Joanna: I think I am most proud of my dad’s kindness. It would be easy to say his intellect, as he is easily the smartest and most dedicated person I know, but through working with him, his compassion and care has really come through in a way I didn’t understand previously.
Chris: Jo understands and appreciates the good things; delicious food, wine, chocolate of course. The best thing about working with her is that we get to do that together.
Joanna: I think what makes Pump Street Chocolate so delicious is this unique approach that we have to chocolate, having been bakers first. The taste of the finished chocolate is the most important thing, and we make sure that we source the best beans and make the chocolate in the simplest but most effective way to bring out the great flavour of the beans. Because there is simply no point in chocolate that isn’t superb.
When you next send a Papier greeting card to a loved one, you'll be able to make it an extra special delivery by adding Pump Street Chocolate and Good & Proper Tea before you get to the checkout.