Something Good from Bold Bean Co
We've been super excited about this one, and were thrilled to get to speak to Amelia, founder of Bold Bean Co this month. Bold Beans are, from the heart, one of our very favourite products in store, we honestly can't get enough. I'd say between us all here we eat them most days, a personal favourite being straight from the jar, or mashed onto sourdough. Perfection.
It's not just the taste and versatility of beans we love, it's their healthy planet promoting properties. Beans are great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as along with lentils and peas they work with bacteria that convert atmospheric nitrogen into useful ammonia or nitrates. Legumes actually improve soil fertility and reduce the dependence on energy-intensive fertilisers. They are also highly water efficient.
We chatted to Amelia about what life looks like, beyond the beans, and how something as simple, and staple, as the humble bean, can quite frankly, save the world.
This is such a good read, so if you can, take 10, pop the kettle on and enjoy.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the journey that led you to Bold Bean Co?
Years of working in the food sustainability space exposed me to many of the problems facing our food system, including soil health, food security and climate change. I realised that beans, with their millions of varieties and soil rejuvenating properties, were the answer to so many issues and decided to do something about it. Going back to the moment where my bean perception changed forever (my Erasmus exchange in Madrid where I first tasted a heirloom bean), I decided to bring these to the UK and launch a brand "on a mission to make you obsessed with beans, by giving you the best of beans".
How did you find yourself working in the food sustainability space after university, and what were your top takeaways?
If you love food, you naturally become interested in the food system and feel an urge to protect it. So when I first heard about a role going at Foodchain (working to build more transparency into the supply chain and empower small suppliers), I asked to meet up with the founders and begged for a job. Luckily, a few months later, something came up. We were working with top London restaurants like Lyle's and Spring and some of the most passionate food producers we have in this country. These are the thought leaders in food and the land that it grows on - I learned a lot about regenerative agriculture, soil health, and food security, all the while falling deeper in love with beans and how they can solve the problems we face.
What more can we be doing on mass to make a positive impact when it comes to our food consumption?
For me, the food system is completely governed by our consumer culture. So we need to change the desires of the people before we can change the food system. It's all very well growing fields and fields of beautiful British bean varieties to build resilience and soil health, but if the end product is fed to livestock we really aren't going to get anywhere.
Change starts with where we spend our cash.
Let’s talk beans…
Why are yours different?
Our beans are heirloom varieties - which mean that they are grown for flavour over yield. This is a huge reason why ours taste so much better than others. The other reason is the cooking method, our beans are slowly cooked with a pinch of salt to bring out their natural flavour, whereas tins need to be heated to a higher temperature, impacting the flavour and texture. Ours are so good you can eat them straight from the jar.
Why do better beans matter?
They matter because they taste better, but otherwise, consuming any bean really is a great step towards a better food system. We’re just trying to show how that can be pleasurable too!
How do you enjoy yours?
I love our queen butter beans, doused in good quality olive oil and with the zest of a lemon. Great to have with good bread or crackers.
Can you share your processes with us - from growing and sourcing, to preparing, cooking, packaging?
We source our beans for flavour, so we buy from the best possible climates to produce certain bean varieties. We then soak the beans for 12 hours, before scalding them (to remove the skins) and then cooking them long and slow with a pinch of salt.
If you weren’t in the bean industry, what would you be doing?
Somewhere in the beautiful world of food.
What have been your greatest challenges since launching Bold Bean Co?
The period prior to investment, when I was working on the business alone with funds that I'd scrabbled together to support it. With no-one to share the journey with, or even be accountable to, challenges become your own only. Prior to fundraising you also don’t have a reason to reflect on how far you have come and the true potential of your business.
And your wins?
In my last role, I was working with incredible chefs in the hospitality industry. Recently, I’ve been contacted by a few asking to set up an account with Foodchain (my previous employer) and I apologise, telling them I no longer work there as I run a bean business, sending them a link to the website. On two occasions, these chefs - people I admire hugely - have said that they already buy my beans, and had no idea it was me. Seeing your brand move beyond friends of friends “supporting you” and into something that exists outside of you as an individual feels incredible.
What does ‘a day in the life’ look like for you?
I am not a morning person. No morning meditation, run or lemon tea for me. I get to my desk within 15 minutes if I’m working from home with a black coffee to get me going. I know, it doesn’t sound like “Successful CEO vibes” but I've learned to understand how I’m wired and play to my strengths, that means as much sleep as possible. Every now and then the emails, pitches and follow ups are disrupted by Hannah, our Marketing Manager coming to my flat and we cook a recipe video together - this is a huge part of our marketing strategy and it’s a really fun change of pace for the day, followed by a delicious meal which we sit down together and enjoy. The afternoon rushes by with calls to buyers, bean partners and strategy discussions. Before I know it, it's evening. I’ll try and go for a quick run, but often fail to. I send voice notes to friends en-route to the supermarket, trying to keep on top of their news as compensation for my lack of attendance to birthday drinks parties. After rustling up a dinner, Fred (my partner) and I usually relax with some TV drama or reading our books.
Is there anything in the pipeline that you’re excited about, and want to share with us?
The United Nations have launched a new campaign called “Beans is How” - we’re working closely with them on their goal to double bean consumption within 5 years. I’m really excited about the impact this can have!