Founders Blog – Ben Mackinnon, e5 Bakehouse.

Founders Blog – Ben Mackinnon, e5 Bakehouse.

What is the origin story of E5 Bakehouse, how did it all begin?

The e5 bakehouse began following my course in the essentials of sourdough baking at the School of Artisan Food.  Having worked in sustainability I wanted to put words into action, and turn my hands to a craft that I could be proud of.  Coming home to Hackney I made a woodfired oven in the corner of a railway arch.  I baked sourdough bread using locally milled, organic flour, and then the wood oven fuelled by carpenters’ offcuts.  Making fresh bread is exciting stuff and soon a small team had assembled under the arches, along with a coffee machine.  Next, sandwiches and cakes were added to the menu.  The wood oven was superseded and the company moved into its own railway arch further along the street.

Why did E5 Bakehouse become a founding member of the Guild 10 years ago?

e5 Bakehouse came about because of the local Hackney community who had decided they wanted to support local businesses like ours.  We shared that vision; by working together, and interconnecting we would be happier, healthier and more secure.  So creating a Guild of local businesses made a lot of sense and we were delighted to join.


Bread dough being measured and shaped into loaves ready for rising and baking.

What has been the most valuable aspect of Guild membership for you since you joined?

When Network Rail put all of their commercial property up for sale we, and our neighbours, were understandably nervous of what this might mean for our buiness. EETG helped us to connect with other businesses who had faced similar challenges and stood by us as we took our case to a hearing in Parliament.

How has your business changed in the last decade?

Over the first part of the last decade the company  experienced quite rapid growth, which meant a lot of new systems being developed, lots of mistakes being made.  We’re now increasingly more organised and are investing more in the people who work within the company.  We’ve opened a sister site baking bread and roasting coffee over in Tower Hamlets called e5 Poplar Bakehouse.

We are milling over half of the flour used in our breads and pastries on a stone mill under the arches in Hackney.  We’re using grains grown in England on farms that prioritise soil health and nature.  Mostly organically certified and others whose methods we trust and want to support. All of the rest of the flour is organically certified and mostly comes from 2 stone mills.

When we looked into getting British-grown flour there wasn’t anybody who could supply a hundred percent; it’s incredible how homogenised that industry is. But having taken a punt and bought a mill from Austria we are now producing around a tonne of organic English wheat a week.
All manner of treats being prepared in the Bakehouse kitchens.