Sophie Jurkiewicz, Aug 17
I first went to visit E5 Bakehouse 3 years ago when I was working on a summer writing project. I had a delicious breakfast of fresh sourdough in the railway arches under London Fields and I met the owner, Ben Mackinnon. While on one level he was responding to a gap in the market when he opened the bakehouse in 2011 (very few bakeries in London were doing sourdough at the time), he was more motivated by the lifestyle surrounding the bakery he’d built. He’s a creative at heart and is passionate about community and sustainability; he wanted to contribute to both in Hackney.
Since then, I’ve regularly walked across the park to collect loaves of bread but it was only recently that I booked myself onto their sourdough course. Not only was it just the best day, it was also part of a broader brand experience.
Over the last few years they’ve expanded their offer, so now they’re a bakery (selling from the storefront and also supplying restaurants), a café (breakfast and lunch, beautifully simple, seasonal dishes), a school (sourdough and pizza courses) and have plans to be an on-site wholesaler (they’ll have large quantities of grains, pulses and nuts that customers can buy in small measures to minimise both waste and packaging). They’ve even started milling their own flour, and they give the waste to restaurants in the neighbourhood to use for compost. All of their energy is from renewable sources, recycling and composting are second nature and they choose to make their bread drops using a Dutch delivery bicycle.
Additionally, every single person I’ve come across who works there is just a good person. I believe all, (if not, almost all) of the bakers began their careers in other fields – sustainability, design, illustration, other… – but they welcome passionate people who want to learn, and who represent their ethos.
I believe their success has been influenced by their strong but gentle brand. They began with a philosophy to which they’re still determinedly devoted; it’s underpinned all of their activities and continues to inform their expansion.
Experientially, it’s consistent across all touchpoints. The people are warm and knowledgeable, the bakehouse itself is rustic, low key and welcoming, the food is local and seasonal and the visual identity is simple and straightforward. There’s nothing shouty about the E5 Bakehouse brand or experience, but it’s been so well considered that every development feels organic, welcome and absolutely necessary. I’m one of a huge and growing base of loyal supporters and let me tell you, I’m going back for the pizza-making course.