Beckmann's Bakery with Kristen Tatroe
Just as much as a neighborhood farmers’ market relies on fresh fruits and veggies, a stop at the Sunday stalls would not be complete without visiting the bakery section. And at center stage usually stands a stall manned by friendly faces and filled with the warm scent of freshly baked breads, pies and cookies: Beckmann’s Bakery.
If you haven’t seen Beckmann’s at your local farmers’ market, you’re in for a treat. Hailing from Santa Cruz, this 35-year old bakery provides the Bay with the sweetest baked treats and highest quality bread, built upon “eat local first” values.
Beckmann’s Old World Bakery was founded by Peter Beckmann, a German immigrant, in 1985. Beckmann apprenticed in bread-making in Germany before bringing his delicious crafts and love for baking to the U.S.
Beckmann’s Bakery entered into wholesale, expanding over the years to supply grocery stores all over the greater Bay Area. Along with grocery stores, including locally-owned independent stores, Beckmann’s also visits around 40 farmers’ markets.
The presence of Beckmann’s in almost every neighborhood in the Bay has not gone unappreciated. This year, even with the pandemic, Kristen Tatroe, the assistant manager and events sales coordinator at Beckmann’s, said their signature whole wheat bread, plus other goods like pies, were snatched from grocery store shelves before the day even ended. Beckmann’s popularity doesn’t stop there — Kristen said that they’ve sold out within the hour at farmers’ markets.
So what makes people so crazy about Beckmann’s? The answer involves a number of factors hinting to the dedication and love the Beckmann’s family pours into their baked goods.
Beckmann’s magical baking occurs at their production space in Santa Cruz. According to Kristen, the bakery is home to around 80 production employees, including bakers and packagers. There, every individual product is handled by Beckmann employees, who work around the clock to produce 50,000 loaves per week.
“We don’t have an automated factory system,” Kristen said. “Everything we make has been handled by our amazing production crew, who are the real heroes of the bakery.”
Beckmann’s also mills some of their own flour — and only what’s needed that day to ensure the ingredients used are the freshest they can be. As for other ingredients, they focus on sourcing locally, from Emeryville flour to San Francisco Herb Company spices. As Kristen said, quality ingredients truly matter when it comes to creating that perfect taste at the end.
“If the taste doesn't follow the look, what's the point?” she asked.
An example of Beckmann’s refusal to cut shortcuts in terms of flavor is their fan-favorite sourdough. The secret to its success? No yeast.
“I get questions from customers like, ‘I don’t understand how you can have sourdough without yeast,’” Kristen said. “Bakers use yeast to get a faster rise and therefore faster production, because time is money — we don’t believe in doing that because we want to stay true to our flavor profiles.”
Beckmann’s instead uses a slow fermentation process where the dough rises slowly for 2 days — in turn developing super complex layers of flavor.
Beckmann’s whole wheat bread is also carefully crafted. Starting with all-natural whole wheat, their loaves are packed with nutrients using only high-quality ingredients and no artificial preservatives. As Kristen said, they want children to be able to read the ingredient label and know what's in their sandwich bread.
And with the kids staying home nowadays, the importance of Beckmann’s is even more crucial. On the onset of the pandemic, Kristen said the bakery anticipated a lack of business, but because of the stay-at-home orders, their sales instead went through the roof. Kristen attributes some of this to parents needing bread to quickly make sandwiches for kids in between work breaks, and maybe even getting the kids involved themselves in learning about how to make good food.
Kristen also gave credit to farmers’ markets organizers for supporting local farmers and vendors during the pandemic by advocating to have markets labelled as essential services. Older customers found grocery stores scary and stressful in terms of staying distant, so the outdoors markets provided a safer alternative.
And of course, visiting a local farmers’ market is better for the community as well — a belief that Beckmann’s holds dearly.
“Peter spearheaded the 'Think Local First' campaign in Santa Cruz as a way to bring the community back to local businesses instead of corporations like Amazon,” Kristen said.
Additionally, Scot Adam, the sales manager at Beckmann’s, worked tirelessly to build up Beckmann’s farmers’ market department and create a loving local community of Beckmann’s fans.
And that's not all Beckmann's has to offer in showing its commitment to being a top-tier local business.
“We have a female CEO, we’re independently owned, and we like to support our local producers and businesses. And of course, we produce good food and real food,” Kristen said.
At the end of the day, the taste of freshly baked bread and delectable desserts is enough of an experience to get customers hooked. If you can’t make it to your local market, let us bring this experience to you with our Beckmann’s products, currently in our market.