From humble beginnings in a garage on Hardgrave Road in 1997, Sol Breads now sell their organic artisan loaves all over Australia and overseas.
Sol Breads owner Kim Carrigan is not a baker by trade, but has always been passionate about bread. After returning from living in Europe for a number of years, he and his wife Meg struggled to find bread they liked in Brisbane, so they decided to do something about it. “We couldn’t find the bread we wanted in Brisbane. We could not buy sourdough bread. That’s why we’d been looking for a bakery because we wanted to buy bread to eat and there was nothing.”
Kim joined forces with bakers Phil Dean and Sean Kavanagh and they initially operated out of the garage under what is now Mondo Organics in Hardgrave Road. Within a few months they moved down the street to the building where their café still is today. Kim’s daughter Kira now runs the café and the bread making has moved elsewhere. “About 2002, it got to the point where the volume of product we were putting out of this building was just ludicrous for the resources of the building … the whole place was ready to explode, from the people in here, to the amount of flour coming in, to the bread going out and the trucks on the pavement. It was an absolute nightmare.”
Production moved to larger premises in Newstead where it remained for eight years. Today all the baking is done at an even larger facility in Darra. But despite the massive growth in production all the bread is still handmade. “It’s not like conventional baking where you stick a bit of yeast in and 40 minutes later you can have the bread out of the oven,” says Kim. “Because of the sort of dough it is, sourdough, it has no yeast at all; you can’t easily use machinery on it. So the whole process, even today, is still handmade, handshaped, handcut.”
Sol Breads is now sold all over Australia and they have their sights set on overseas markets too. They recently started shipping to Japan, after a major Japanese organic company made contact. “They were in Australia and they were looking for organic flour at the time actually, because they wanted to make organic breads in Japan. But then they realised that A, they couldn’t make bread, they had no idea, and B, the duty on flour in Japan is 100 per cent.
So, the cost of the flour, plus the lack of skill, they came and talked to us.”
The company in question already owns 30 cafes under their own brand in Japan, but has plans to open a separate Sol Breads chain too. The first shop is flagged to open early next year. “Based upon this model,” Kim says, in the surroundings of their West End café, “they actually want Kira to go to Japan and help with the set up … they want to draw from the history of West End. That’s how they want to promote it and market it in Japan.”
Words by Leah Carri | Images Stayc Connelly