In our new Meet the Maker series, we're shining the light on the many gifted producers behind some of Ireland's best food and drink brands. Today, we chat to Natalie Keane of Bean & Goose
Could you tell us a bit about the history of Bean and Goose?
Bean and Goose is 5 this July! It has been an amazing, eventful, and inspiring journey so far. We are using our 5th birthday this month as an opportunity to further evolve our brand with the launch of new flavours, new products, and new packaging.
Bean and Goose is a luxury craft chocolate brand that blends the best of Irish inspiration and ingredients with the world’s best single-origin chocolate to create joyous and generous gifts for customers around the world. We are Karen and Natalie, sisters and founders of Bean and Goose and for us, chocolate signifies good times, memories of growing up and family holidays back home in Wexford. We make chocolate at Last Tree Farm based in the Wexford countryside. We are a single-origin chocolate brand inspired by Irish designers, food producers and other makers to create exciting and beautiful chocolate. We source our cocoa ingredients from all over the world, but our flavours are inspired by our surroundings in the Wexford countryside. We use ingredients that reflect and celebrate the Irish seasons. Bean and Goose reflects contemporary Ireland.
The idea for our business came in 2014 when we were looking for a way that we could work together, Karen and I are best friends as well as sisters. I developed an interest in the world of premium chocolate. We spent time with Benoit Lorge in Kenmare learning the process of hand tempering chocolate on marble slabs. We loved the patience and rhythm involved in this age-old technique. From here, the beginnings of Bean and Goose were born. For the first two years of our business, we made our chocolate the traditional way on marble slabs. We used the Dublin food markets to test our products, meet our early customers, and gather our first stockists along the way. We knew quite early on that our gut feeling had been correct and that the time was right for a new Irish chocolate brand.
Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?
Bean and Goose is based in Last Tree Farm, Co Wexford. Our location is the inspiration behind our brand and the passion for using seasonal, natural ingredients. It makes sense to us to use what can grow in our gardens and can be foraged locally. We are surrounded by countryside heavy with elderflower, lovage, gorse and blackberries. We are inspired by our herb garden full of lavender, mint, bay, fennel, rosemary and thyme. We have summer fruits and orchard trees growing nearby and we have the pleasure of using edible flowers such as violas, marigolds, borage and scented roses.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
Making sure that our products are available to customers when and where they want to buy them.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
Consumers are rightly demanding sustainability and traceability with their chocolate products. This is something we have spent the last number of months addressing. We now work exclusively with Original Beans for our raw cocoa ingredients. Original Beans create the most beautiful couverture in the most sustainable way. It has been a long-held ambition to source ingredients from Original Beans, scale has allowed us to do this.
Customers are also demanding thoughtful packaging, for us that is about creating simple designs making sure that our materials are compostable and recyclable.
The other big trend that is exciting to see is a move towards more natural, higher quality ingredients. Customers want to understand the ingredients in their products and how they are produced
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your industry?
It would be great to see the movement towards natural ingredients lovingly produced continue to grow. This is where Bean and Goose is at home.
What has running your own business taught you?
Believe in your vision and do not take too long making decisions.
Our gut feeling has nearly always been right, we need to learn to be more confident that we are making the correct decisions for our business.
Stay true to your vision, from day one Karen and I said that Bean and Goose was about a simple luxury based on craft. Our products would be joyful and indulgent and be made form the most beautiful ingredients. This will always be the vision.
Who are some other Irish foodie brands you draw inspiration from?
There are so many! But if we had to choose, we really admire the people behind Keogh’s Crisps. They have built a strong business that exports around the world and they have done that with a premium product in a mature market.
What’s next for the company?
We will be launching our new bars and packaging later this month. We have worked with Aran Quinn on the designs. Aran has told the story of each bar and its ingredients in the most vibrant way. We cannot wait to see them in stores and online very soon.
We also have three new products to launch this year. All three have been on hold due to the current crisis. We are hoping that as things change we can bring them to market. These products are some of the most exciting we have ever created.
Find out more about Bean & Goose here!