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  • Writer's pictureLa Nouvelle Orléanaise

Epis Pop

One day, as I was walking through the streets of Orléans, I came across the small shop Epis Pop, located at 5, Rue au Lin (you can't make this up), in front of which a queue of about three meters was patiently waiting to be served. While observing the products through the window, I quickly understood what attracted customers, namely the authenticity of the products offered.

Indeed, Yvaine and Stéphane, the founders of the brand, produce organic sourdough bread and pastries, not to mention "sweets" (cakes and biscuits) and granola. I then had the curiosity to taste one of their breads: the "Khorasan Pop". Compared with a "traditional" bread, the crust is thicker, and the crumb, which has a slightly acidic taste, is denser but also more nutritious and more digestible. In the end, this bread is similar to the bread made by our ancestors, which I find both moving and comforting.

Another day, while I was shopping at the Martroi Market, I noticed again that there was an impressive queue in front of the Epis Pop stall. That was all I needed to be willing to know more about the company.

I took an appointment at the bakery, located at 169, Route d'Orléans in Ingré, on Thursday, November 2nd. Stéphane and Yvaine, the bosses, as well as Henri and Manon, two of their employees, welcomed me in this warm place to explain their approach and understand their way of working. I also went to the Rue au Lin shop and the Marché du Martroi to meet Gabriel, one of the latest employees to join the team.

Yvaine & Stéphane at the bakery in Ingré.


LNO: Stéphane and Yvaine, can you tell me more about your work experience?

Yvaine: Before we launched the company four years ago, I was a school teacher. After reaching the age of fifty, I could have ended my career quietly but I wanted to change careers to work close to the land and work with my hands.

Stéphane: A few years ago, I lived and worked in Paris. At some point, I questioned the meaning of what I was doing, which led me to retrain in the bread business - my grandfather was a baker - without going through the mainstream training, because I was keen to commit myself to a fairer, more resilient sector that was more respectful of the living.

Yvaine: Stéphane and I both went through an intensive six-month training course at L'Ecole Internationale de Boulangerie to learn how to make organic sourdough bread. It was through the school's network that we met and that we confronted our ideas to create a company that resembles us. We had to agree on a shared vision!


LNO: What do you mean?

Stéphane: Yvaine and I had the same basic principles, namely: make people think about what they eat, produce organic bread, create jobs in a different way than traditional bakery, and break codes. However, Yvaine insisted on making everything by hand from farmers’ seeds only1, and baking the bread in a wood-fired oven.

Yvaine: Stéphane, on the other hand, had a more pragmatic vision of the job; he had more knowledge than I did about running a business. We talked a lot about finding the right balance. For example, we produce 50% of our bread from local farmers' seeds. We get our supplies from three farmers who work respectively in St-Fargeau, Autry-le-Châtel and Aigurande. In their fields, there can be up to 25 varieties of ancient wheat! The rest is produced from modern wheat. We have a kneading machine, but some of the production is done by hand. Finally, instead of a wood-fired oven, we have invested in an electric oven that allows us to cook larger quantities and meet the demand.


LNO: The return to nature has been very trendy for a few years now. Has it made it easier to set up your business?

Stéphane: Initially, we wanted to buy a business in the city centre of Orléans, but bankers and landlords were reluctant to invest into our business, especially as our opening hours are not similar with those of traditional bakery, since we open our shops from Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. We want to work decent hours and rest on weekends; this idea did not go down well whereas the concept is accepted in other cities. So, we set up our bakery in Ingré and started selling on the Martroi Market before finally being able to rent the premises you know Rue au Lin.

Yvaine: It took us a long time to reap the fruits of our labour, but the demand is there! With the success of our project, Stéphane and I chose to hire more staff. Today, there are 6 of us! Among our four employees, three have done an apprenticeship, and one of them is a journeyman craftsman.

Manon, Henri & Gabriel

LNO: Do you collaborate with other companies in the region?

Yvaine: We are in partnership with six companies: L'Eco Bocal and La Boutique 9 Ter, in Orléans; the Biocoop in Chécy and Saran; Zou la Galinette in Saint-Cyr-en-Val; and Terra'Vrac in Meung-sur-Loire. In addition to these companies, we work with Les Cycloposteurs who transport our products from the bakery in Ingré to the city centre of Orléans.

Stéphane: Also, you should know that we do not throw away any of our products. Unsold bread is donated to the associations Les Resto du Coeur, La Parentèle and Le Relais Orléanais.

Unsold bread is being collected by Les Resto du Coeur.

LNO: Do you have any other projects?

Stéphane: For now, we are happy with the size of our company. Nevertheless, we still have this desire to learn. That's why we're planning to learn how to work with other grains.

Yvaine: We organise "Sourdough Aperitifs" quite regularly. Don't hesitate to come and ask us questions and taste our products!

Practical information

Addresses

Shop in Orléans

5, Rue au Lin - Open Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Shop in Ingré

169, Route d'Orléans - Open Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Martroi Market in Orléans

Place du Martroi - Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact Mail: contact@epis-pop.fr

Phone: 07 49 40 53 41

Social media: Instagram and Facebook.

La Nouvelle-Orléanaise

1 Farmers' seeds: seeds or seedlings selected and propagated directly by the grower using non-transgressive methods, in fields, gardens and other orchards.

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