For our second supplier profile, we met with the inspiring Harry Coller of Harry’s Nut Butter, keeping it local with one of our favourite Dublin 8 neighbours.
Harry’s Nut Butter was born and raised in the Fumbally café in Dublin 8 where Harry was working as a chef for five years, before launching at the Fumbally Stable Christmas market of 2019. I think it’s safe to say that Harry & Co have opened the minds of many, to the never-ending possibilities of peanut butter over the past three years.
So why nut butter you may ask? Most people’s idea of peanutbutter is something sweet, which they often spread on bread amongst other things… This is what Harry wanted to change. Being a self-confessed fiend for savoury and for spice, he started a side project adding some garlic, smoked paprika and some chilli, before loosening it out with sesame oil. This is where the original flavour was born, which hit Dublin by storm when it first hit the shelves on the Fumbally Stables market alongside our other Dublin Food Co-op friends, White Masu and Fumbally Ferments.
This flavour was the perfect way of expanding people’s opinion on what peanut butter can be and removing the common notion that it’s simply something that can only be sweet. Initially selling 20–30 jars at the Saturday market seems all the more impressive considering the jars were simply handwritten with white marker. With the labels ready for the Christmas Market of 2019, the nut butter revolution had truly started, with the selling of 400 jars over just three days!
After such an encouraging start to 2020, the exciting new brand found themselves having to adapt, re-assess & change focus once the Covid lockdown hit in March. Moving to wholesale was one of the early answers, with the Co-op being one of the proud early adopters as it was clear from an early stage that we shared a common ethos along with our other amazing local suppliers from the ever-inspiring Fumbally community. The early days of the Covid pandemic allowed the Fumbally Cafe transform into a type of community hub where it became a shop as well as a café, which helped create a community of likeminded people with a shared common interest in local produce. This allowed Harry establish connections with other shops and build a network which was ever growing at the time.
The Co-op will certainly agree that 2020 was a year where many of us started working from home, and this led to us cooking from home more too. Combined with an emphasis on supporting local, it was a good time for people to try something new, like spicy peanut butter – which they likely had never seen before! So what was next? New flavours seemed on be the answer. More flavours led to more shelf space, which led to more presence. Coco Buzz, Extra Hot and Pure Peanut soon followed in late 2020.
Coco Buzz peaked particular interest for breakfast lovers, described by Harry as a savoury breakfast butter which is sweeter than the other flavours. Made from coconut oil, hazelnut, peanut, raw cacao and coffee which gives it a bitter backbone. It particularly goes well with porridge or oats in general, but also good in smoothies, on toast or most things breakfast related.
Christmas 2020 was a busy one which marked the period where the first international orders came in as well as the time Harry admits they were beginning to support themselves. On the topic of source and production, Harry informs that the flavourful peanuts are roasted in Argentina before grinding in the South Circular Road factory which is just a five minute walk from the Fumbally. This is also where the delicious spices are added before jarring up and selling. The addition of more flavours, a crunchy, a smooth and then later the Pumpkin Spice, gave a full suite of nut butters with no immediate need to expand on those alone. It was at this point which they developed an appetising idea with an amazing chocolatier from Co Clare to make Harry’s Nut Butter Truffles.
Arriving late last year, Harry describes the latest inspiration as a dairy free alternative to truffles not loaded with cream. This has allowed the expansion into different parts of the shop as well as realising that the mixing of peanut butter with chocolate and salt has shown that the possibilities of nut butter are simply endless. With flavours such as Salted Almond and Hazelnut & Cacao, as well as Pure Peanut – it’s easy to see why Harry is so inspired at seeing how far this adventure can go.
Harry’s Nut Butter has been a winner for our members. Perhaps this is due to the diversity of uses such as toast, pancakes, toasties, smoothies or even a curry or stir fry. They’re also passionate about growing responsibly, one of the reasons why they use glass jars rather than plastic. As a company aiming to produce more good than bad, Harry was pleased to hear about this blogger’s endless uses for the wide glass jar which I personally reuse for homemade hummus, walnuts, apricots or whatever else I can get my hands on in the zero waste section of the Co-op.
What about the challenges? The fact that the majority of cafes have riverted back to being cafes rather than shops has led to a slight shift in focus ahead. Not to mention the more recent cost challenges, such as the price of glass which has increased 40% in 18 months, and peanuts, where the margins have become a lot smaller since inception three years ago. Harry describes the predicting of cost for non-native ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, sunflower oil, paprika, sesame oil, and agave, like predicting the stock market. It’s a situation many businesses will unfortunately face during challenging times.
But there are plenty reasons to be positive. Retrieving the certified vegan logo is a goal of Harry’s. One we hope they will receive very soon ahead of a fulfilling and fruitful future.