Baker’s Dozen with Jessica

We asked Jessica, head of our coffee team at GAIL’s, our Baker’s Dozen of questions one chilly morning to find out more about her breakfast, daily bread and, of course, coffee.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
6:30-7am – gives me enough time to make a hand-brewed filter coffee before I head out.

2. How do you take your coffee?
Usually black. Preferably a filter coffee made with specially selected coffee beans from a single origin such as the Dutezimberikawa, Burundi that we are serving in several GAIL’s bakeries.

3. What do you usually have for breakfast?
Coffee! I try to keep my breakfast protein-rich: greek yogurt with muesli, pumpkin and flaxseeds. I’ve got a sweet tooth so I often have it with a dollop of honey. In the winter, I’m more likely to make porridge with oat milk and seeds.

4. How long have you been working for GAIL’s?
8 years – I started with GAIL’s shortly after my move to London.

5. What’s the first food you remember loving as a child?
There’s a Filipino rice pudding my great grandpa used to make – it’s called Suman – that is made with glutinous rice, coconut milk and palm sugar. Before he passed, he taught my mother how to make it for us at home. It’s best steamed in banana leaves but he would often bake it in a tray and cut it into thick slices for us to devour.

6. Have you ever baked bread? How did that go?
My mother taught me how to make bread when I was little. We never used a recipe – just looked for a specific consistency, kneaded thoroughly and punched it down at the right moment. Some of the most fun we had was rolling up sheets of dough for cinnamon buns and cutting the rolls with a length of thread.

7. What does the smell of freshly baked bread remind you of?
Family. My great grandma was a tremendous cook from West Virginia and she used to make cornbread for big family dinners. We’d eat it freshly baked, with the crust still crisp and the inside steaming.

8. What do you spread on your toast?
I love a nut butter.

9. What is the best part of your day?
I like the quiet bit of the morning, before the day starts.

10. What’s in your ultimate sandwich?
A Bramley Apple Sourdough grilled cheese with chilli jam – use a pungent washed rind or farmer’s cheese. Amazing.

11. If we could give you a lifetime supply of anything from GAIL’s, what would that be?
Porridge Sourdough.

12. Our bread is made with three primary ingredients. Four if you include time. What are the main ingredients in your life and work, concrete or abstract?
Creativity and care. Constant learning, creative thinking and attention to detail are big parts of my working life. And working with direct-trade specialty coffee means that I can practice sustainability and ethical sourcing on a daily basis – and know that how we buy our coffee can make a difference both here and abroad.

13. What would you do for a living, if not this?
Creative expression is extremely important to me – I’m also trained as an artist and academic. I find working in coffee very rewarding because it gives me so many opportunities for creative thinking. Care is also a big part of how I want to approach learning and educating. I love that my job focuses on giving others the tools to develop a craft skill. And who knows, maybe I’ll find some time to write a book about it!