Saturday, May 05, 2007

There's a new gluten free bakery in town

I had heard rumors for several months now that there was a new gluten free bakery in St. Paul and that their products were really yummy. No one seemed to know the name or where it was at. I tried googling gluten free and St. Paul a few times but only came up with Bittersweet Bakery, which I already use and love. But finally last week, my googling paid off and I found the new bakery: http://www.cooqiglutenfree.com/index.shtm

Today after swimming, we ventured out to visit Cooqi and see if they are as good as Bittersweet. Their hours are more friendly for us - a two parent working family. They are open every Saturday until 4 and Wednesday through Friday until 6. It was easy enough to find at the corner of Marshall and Cretin. It is a very attractive shop and very kid friendly. My son was immediately drawn to the play kitchen and started making pretend muffins and cakes while we waited our turn. The products were very beautifully displayed and prices were marked on a chalk board that is so common in cafes. The gal that waited on us was very pleasant and friendly.

They had a tables to sit at and eat and they sold coffee as well. It was kind of a coffee shop and bakery combination.

The list of ingredients were not printed out or listed where you could see them and the employee behind the counter didn't seem to know her ingredients very well. When I enquired if the products we were buying were dairy free as well as gluten free, she seemed to think that eggs were dairy. When I corrected her, she stated she knew they weren't but some people think they are - well, I don't care what some people think - eggs are not dairy - I wasn't asking if they were vegetarian. Luckily Andy is not super sensitive to dairy in baking so I'm not worried about a reaction - but they really should have the ingredients listed or a more knowledegable staff. If you don't know what dairy is and isn't, how can you answer questions about what is in the proucts?

They had a better selection of breads than Bittersweet - a white sandwich bread, a whole grain bread with and without seeds and focacia bread. The bar, cupcake and cookie selection seemed about the same as Bittersweet. We purchased one loaf of sandwich bread, 2 brownies and 1 cupcake and left $15.98 poorer.

The brownies were super yummy - much better than the ones at Bittersweet and on a par with the ones I make myself. The brownies were $2.50 each compared to $2.00 for a brownie at Bittersweet. The cupcake was fine - about the same as the ones at Bittersweet - but much more expensive ($2.50 vs. $1.20 at Bittersweet). The bread was not as tall as what we purchase at Bittersweet - we had a loaf at home to compare it to. The bread from bittersweet is 3.5 inches tall and Cooqi's is 2.5 inches. It had a better texture to it - you could actually eat it without toasting it without it crumbling apart. The flavor was good. I like Bittersweet's better, Dan thought it was a toss up and Andy liked Cooqi's better. It tastes a lot like the bread I used to make from the Bob's Red Mill Mix. But at $7.95 a loaf, it is $1.20 more than Bittersweet's bread. They did have lots of bread available and you did not have to pre-order it like you do at Bittersweet. They also gave you the option of buying the bread frozen for 50 cents cheaper.

The conclusion for us is that we will probably continue to give Bittersweet most of our bakery business. I make good bars and cookies so for us, the bread is the deciding choice and Cooqi's bread is smaller and more expensive. However, if we want focasia style or can't get to Bittersweet or a store that carries Bittersweet's products, we will go to Cooqi. For those of you who live in St. Paul and not between the two bakeries like we do, Cooqi is a great choice.

It is exciting to live in an area where we have more than one gluten free bakery to choose from. Next week I am going to venture over to Minneapolis to check out Madwoman Foods' bakery. Andy loves their pizza, so I really need to check out their other products - even if they are not as conviently located.

Cooqi - if you are reading this - list the ingredients and price list on your website and print out the ingredients on fliers that patrons can take with them. You have a beautiful shop and I hope you thrive. We need all the gluten free businesses we can get.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, thank you for posting your comments about our bakery. There are a couple of things I want to clarify, and that also concern me a bit about your experience with my business.

First of all, we do indeed have a list of the ingredients, both on a laminated set of cards for reviewing in the store, as well as printed on a sheet to take home. I am fully aware of how crucially important it is to know what is in your food, especially when following multiple restrictions. I have trained my staff regarding this, and frankly, I am stumped as to who it could have been who would be unaware of either the ingredients or the lists we have available. I am very sorry this was your experience; it is unacceptable.

As to your specific question, the only dairy product we use is butter. Butter is indeed present in our cookies, brownies, and frosting. All our breads, including our pizza crust, and all our muffins are gluten-free and dairy free. In addition, many of our bread products and most of our muffins are sweeetened only with organic agave nectar, an all-natural, low-glycemic extract from a cactus plant.

I also want to say a few things with regard to our products and our pricing. Unlike most other gluten-free bakeries, we use mostly organic ingredients, including whole-grain flours, and we use no refined sugars, preservatives, or trans-fats. We feel this is extremely important, nutritionally, environmentally, and ethically. The down side of this is that it can make our ingredients more costly, and places our pricing in a more "premium" category. We understand that the prices will not work for everyone, especially since gluten-free stuff is already pretty spendy, but we do invite people to consider the benefits of eating (and feeding their children) foods that are high in fiber and nutrients and free of many common toxins, AND gluten-free. We believe the extra cost is worth it.

Please continue to send us your feedback, we love to hear what our customers are thinking!

thanks so much, and we look forward to many years of serving the Twin Cities gluten-free community!

Judy Malmon
Cooqi
Gluten-Free Delights