The advantages and pitfalls of selling homemade food

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Homemade. It’s one of those words that rings quality, bringing back fond nostalgic memories of grandma’s cooking. Offering this concept to coffee shop customers works well in theory due to its rustic marketability and reduced costs through cutting out suppliers. Therefore, this seems a logical step for owners to take, especially if the employees happen to be keen home-bakers. There are however, several downsides which commonly go unnoticed when weighing up whether to put home cooking on the menu. The Blend investigates as to whether it is worth the extra labour of love.

We’ll start with the bad news. Regulations – try not to fall asleep at this point. The Environmental Health department of the most local council will need to inspect the kitchen or food preparation area, ensuring that it meets the necessary level of cleanliness and operations do not present the hazard of cross contamination. This takes up work time for regular inspections, as well as the hassle of meticulous cleaning especially if gluten or nut-free items are being prepared, which all detracts significantly from the romantic idea of baking at home.

Scale is a further disadvantage to this. If a café is turning over a high quantity of homecooked goods, it can be difficult to keep up with demand, commonly leading to quality and consistency suffering. By contrast, professional bakeries can produce a great volume with superior consistency due to the use of commercial equipment yet still retain the foods homemade upside. Gemma Owens of Cakesmiths explains: “Our products are all homemade – but here! Using top quality ingredients, without cutting corners with additives and nasties.” Companies such as these are then able to offer competitive prices as they are producing on a large scale, so benefit from bulk buying, unlike a café owner operating from home.

A proclaimer of the commercial benefits of home-baking is the imaginatively named, Homemade Café, based in Nottingham. Home baking a myriad of its menu items, Homemade promote its ethos of: “Supporting local businesses by buying local produce”. This is then promoted and incentivises purchase from the local regulars to support local growers and farmers.

It essentially comes down to scale and the baking passion which a coffee shop owner has when it comes to deciding whether to home-bake – the decision is yours.

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