As I enter Forum market block, I realise that something wonderful has happened to the place during the last 5 years. When I first moved to Turku, walking through Forum gave me the feeling that the heyday of the place was a long time gone. Back then, many of the spaces for businesses were empty and the number of people deciding to take a walk through the block was almost non-existent. Now Forum is experiencing its second coming, with new and interesting shops attracting customers and bringing the hall back to life. Today I’m meeting with one of the co-founders of Leipomo Gryn, the most recent addition to the cavalcade of unique businesses in Forum.
This year, Gryn has been one of the biggest phenomena in Turku. They are an artisan bakery that specialises in baking with sourdough, making a variety of baked goods such as bread, croissants, cookies, and buns. Often you can also find traditional seasonal products on sale. However, each of them has been made with the special touch that is one of the core features of Gryn. They bake the goods on-site so, for the customer, this is the closest you can get to the fresh-out-of-the-oven experience.
Their story takes us back to summer of 2015, when all three future founders of Gryn were working at the Ketunleipä bakery in Rauma. Maija Salo had just graduated from baking school. Tuija and Janne Juusola already had a long history as entrepreneurs, having previously run a clothing store named Busstop. In 2014 the couple had decided that it was time for new challenges, so they sold the old company and went searching for a new idea.
While working at Ketunleipä the group of three started envisioning the future bakery. What began as a bit of a joke gradually became a more serious concept. When the summer ended Maija left to work in Norway, where she began receiving messages from Janne: pictures of baking appliances. It became apparent that these were not appliances for Ketunleipä but rather the beginning of a new bakery.
Once Maija got on board, the group quickly founded Gryn and they all moved to Turku. The first bakery of Gryn opened its doors in Mälikkälä in September 2016, and in March 2017 they relocated to Forum.
Maija Salo has agreed to meet me at the bakery today. When I arrive, she tells me that because of the upcoming May Day celebrations there is a hell of a lot deep frying to do, but if I wanted I could join her in the kitchen. In my mind I’m trying to determine whether my presence is just a nuisance for her, but she seems genuinely pleased to do the interview so I just go with it. As such, doing the interview in a laid-back manner amidst the baking reveals a lot about the ideology behind the bakery.
Can you tell us a bit about the products and the general style of Gryn?
“We make most of our pastries using sourdough. That is also something that is related to our values. It is our mission to sell quality products that are made from good and safe materials, and using sourdough instead of yeast is much healthier for the digestion. We also aim for simplicity. When you have good ingredients, you don’t need to do anything extra.”
How often do you vary your products?
“Well, we have some products that are made almost daily, but we tend to try new things all the time. For a customer, it’s probably better to get attached to Gryn rather than to a certain product. You can sense the special touch in every one of our products. I urge customers to come with open minds and try new and interesting flavours!”
Is Gryn responding to the growing demand for vegan products?
“Yes. But as with any other products the quality of the materials comes first. There are a lot of questionable vegan materials that contain components that we do not agree with, such as products containing palm oil.”
Where do you get your materials?
“All the flours come from within 40km of Turku. There are some materials that we cannot get from Finland, such as nuts. In those cases, we use materials that are produced inside the EU.”
We already talked a little about the values behind Gryn, but are there some others that you would like to share?
“We are also against industrial production. We will always remain an artisan bakery, and we also prefer to collaborate with small business owners who have genuine passion for their products. Furthermore, unlike in industrial production, we believe in transparency. When you walk into the shop you can see where we bake our products. You can even see the flours that we use. Everything is what it is.”
Definitely! I would even go on to state that this also seems to apply to the people of Gryn. It’s not often that you walk into a shop and get the same kind of feeling of casual authenticity that you find at Gryn. This place sort of makes you lose the tension in your shoulders and you just get to enjoy delicious pastries and a nice cup of coffee.
“Well thank you! Also, we aim for ecological sustainability and communal well-being by giving all the products left at the end of the day to charity. Nothing goes to waste.”
So, do you have any plans for future?
“At the moment, Janne and I are studying to further increase our knowledge in baking. Other than that, I just want to enjoy everyday life. But of course, the three of us are always planning for the future.”
I thank Maija for the interview and she hands me a freshly fried vegan May Day ‘donut’. I can tell you, it tastes phenomenal.
As I move from the bakery to the small cafeteria and shop on the other side, I’m super pleased to see that they make their coffee using beans roasted by Good Life Coffee. Gryn is the only place in Turku where you can buy this Helsinki-based roastery’s products- something that will be particularly celebrated on the 20th of May, when the guys from Good Life Coffee will visit Gryn. On this day there will be different types of coffee tastings, so if you’re interested in quality coffee this is a date you should certainly add to your calendar.
Whoa! What can I say- if you’re out for relaxing times and you’re looking for a place to practice your hedonism, Gryn is definitely the place to go!