Seed feast, dark mountain rye, country, corn kamut, walnut, black pepper Parmesan, whole wheat, apricot sage — whatever sparks Josey Baker’s interest, he makes.
His bread creations are now available at his bakery, The Mill, which opened on Feb. 13. The Mill is located at 736 Divisadero St., between Grove and Fulton streets, just a short 10-minute walk from Urban.
“I love slashing the bread dough right before I load it into the oven, and then watching it transform from a little lump of dough into a delicious loaf of bread,” says Baker, an amiable 30-year-old San Francisco-based bread baker.
Despite his name, Baker never planned on becoming a baker. He was working at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley, designing activities to teach kids science while also writing children’s books. Then he changed his course to focus on what he loved to do: Bake bread.
For the past two years his business has been reliant on the ovens in San Francisco restaurants Nopa and Mission Pie. Customers could pick up Baker’s bread in the Mission or sign up for deliveries, which Baker would make by bike every week.
Josey-supporters could also purchase his bread through Good Eggs, an online marketplace emphasizing the importance of local food.
Now that Baker’s first bakery, The Mill, is open, his bread is likely to become more accessible and more well-known in the city.
“More and more people are trying the bread all the time, and I am really excited to bring the bread to more people with The Mill,“ Baker says. “We will be baking bread every day, as well as a bunch of other goodies like cookies, brownies, coffee cake, etc. (It) should be a blast.”
Baker will not let the charm of his bread be lost in the expansion of his business, though. “I am really interested in keeping the business small and manageable, and baking the best stuff we can,” he says.
The small-scale management of his bread pays off — buyers love it.
“Josey is a baking god!” says Gabe Kaufman (’13). “I’ve only tried his bread once,” but for Kaufman, “it was love at first bite.”
“I think it is really great that (Baker) could pursue his passions and start a successful business,” said Sarah Clowes, Urban science teacher and the faculty adviser for Green Team, which has been in close contact with Baker because of their mutual connection to Good Eggs. Good Eggs delivers a portion of Baker’s bread to pick-up spots around the city, including Urban, thanks to Green Team.
“I’m impressed by his commitment to following his dreams,” Clowes said.
Baker is one of an increasing number of artisan breadmakers in San Francisco, a city known for great bread.
It all started in 1849 when Boudin Bakery first opened. Since then, San Francisco has continued to exemplify its reputation for superior bread. Take Tartine, a San Francisco-based bakery that is famous for its exceptional bread. In 2010, “Tartine Bread” was published, and became one of the top bread baking books in the country, according to Amazon.com.
But even in San Francisco, Baker’s business won’t be protected from the pitfall of small businesses. In the U.S., small businesses only have a 35 percent success rate after 10 years of business.
Baker has to make enough dough to keep the bread dough rising. Supporting his local business is the best way to make sure The Mill is a success. Buying local is also super important for the local economy and is more environmentally friendly than buying from big box stores.
“I love supporting folks from (San Francisco) and surrounding areas,” he says, “Just the other day I bought a bunch of walnuts from one of my customers’ brothers, who has a walnut farm in Modesto.”
Baker hopes to see Urban students at his bakery very soon. “Come say hey at The Mill in February!” he said.