Joanna Brennan, co-founder of Pump Street Bakery

It’s the Suffolk-pink bakery in Orford that produces not only the finest sourdough bread, pastries and cakes, but scrumptious artisan chocolate too. We meet Joanna, one half of the father-daughter duo behind the beautiful Pump Street Bakery to find out about life with a fantasy job:

Where’s home? 

I am very lucky to live between London Fields in Hackney, and Orford, Suffolk. I love the contrast between the two. London Fields is a community but still feels very urban, with a great creative spirit, real diversity and dynamism. Suffolk has wide open skies, beautiful landscapes, tradition and warmth and the familiarity of village life. I like that both are home to so many great small businesses like our own and feel very supportive towards them.

What’s it like running a family business?

My father and I understand each other so much better now than before we opened Pump Street, and I have learnt so much from him. We are efficient and complement each other well, tho of course we don’t always see eye-to-eye entirely. Possibly the best thing about running a family business is the way that I feel our relationship has informed the way our teams work – we have a shared vision of building something lasting.

Beginning as a bakery with a focus on sourdough, what was behind the decision to go into chocolate?

We started making chocolate more as an experiment than as a business decision. After making sourdough for a couple of years my father (who is the sourdough expert) wanted to explore making something else with a reliance on fermentation and quality of ingredients and process, and chocolate was a natural next step.

Is the job as wonderful as it sounds and do you eat chocolate every day? 

Yes! The job is as wonderful as it sounds, and though I eat chocolate most days, I only eat a square or two unless I am running a tasting. I like to try all of our chocolates and other ones too regularly to keep my palate calibrated. But it’s not the chocolate that keeps the job wonderful, but the amazing team we have both in the bakery and in the chocolate factory and the chance to delight people by offering them something really delicious.

The original site is your beautiful pink shop in Orford. Where can Londoners find their piece of Pump Street?

We are lucky to be stocked by lots of independent shops like Quality Chop House in Clerkenwell, The General Store in Peckham, Sally Clarke in Kensington and Yardarm in Leyton. You can also buy our bars at Harvey Nichols, Fortnum and Mason and Liberty. And we have an online shop which is always stocked with the full selection including some limited edition bars.

What’s the Pump Street Christmas bestseller?

This year it has to be our Christmas Box – a gift box with four delicious spiced seasonal bars including our Eccles Bar, a Grenada Milk and Nutmeg, and two brand new bars – Gingerbread and Panettone.

What does Christmas look like for you?

Christmas to me is very traditional, a family day with lots of food and merriment! This year we will be at my parents’ house in Orford, and I’ll be cooking roast turkey and all the trimmings and a chocolate yule log, of course.

Do you have any sacred traditions?

We’ve started a new tradition of taking my son to Snape Maltings in Suffolk for their screening of The Snowman with a live Orchestra. It was certainly his favourite thing about Christmas last year so I can’t wait to do it again.

What do you have for breakfast on Christmas morning?

We drink mimosas and have scrambled eggs and Pinney’s Smoked Salmon (smoked in Orford) on sourdough. That keeps us going (well, that and a few chocolates…) until Christmas dinner. But the breakfast is probably my favourite part of the day!

Joanna Brennan, Pump Street Bakery
1 Pump St Orford Woodbridge, IP12 2LZ
— Daisy Allsup
28th November 2018