If you’re out on the North Fork at the right place and time, you might be lucky enough to get your hands on one of Jamesport Sourdough and Coffee Co.’s freshly baked loaves of bread. Identifiable by their crispy crust and the decorative wheat stalks etched into them, these sourdough breads fly off the shelves at local markets — and are about as homemade as it gets, short of making it yourself.
Ana Burcroff and her husband, Brett Koons, run a full-fledged, cottage-style bakery out of their family home in Jamesport. Commercial baking racks and flour-filled bins tower over a long dining room table that’s often completely covered by loaves of bread. In the kitchen, which doubles as a space for mixing and shaping, two industrial-sized mixers stand next to a double oven.
“Chaos is the norm,” said Koons, who’s been perfecting his sourdough bread since 2015. It started out as a hobby; his wife had given him starter from one of his favorite bakeries as a last-minute birthday gift.
It was the perfect present for an artisanal food enthusiast like Koons, who had already been brewing his own beer and kombucha. Sourdough helped him satisfy his desire to make things, and he would bake it from time to time for his family and friends.
“It was sort of like a party trick for us,” Burcroff said. “Like at the kids’ birthday parties, we’d serve the sourdough.”
When the pandemic hit, a new era of home baking emerged.
While others were experimenting with banana bread recipes and concocting dalgona coffees, Koons and Burcroff were baking sourdough for families in their community. Their kids had switched schools during the first year of the pandemic, a time when in-person contact was limited, so they needed to find a new means of connecting with other parents.
“We would basically offer them bread,” Koons said.
“It was a safe way to try and make a community,” Burcroff added.
Once parents got a taste of their bread, they were hooked. Instead of waiting for the couple to randomly hand out more loaves, they started asking to purchase the bread. At the same time, the couple’s sourdough was receiving compliments from farm crews at Jamesport Farmstead, where Burcroff was volunteering, and at Browder’s Birds, where Koons was donating his time.
“I was like, ‘These people sell food, and they’re encouraging us to sell it — We might have something here,’ ” Burcroff said.
Inspired by the growing influence of home bakers on Instagram, the couple decided to enter the world of cottage-style baking, transforming their home into a sourdough operation in February 2021. Like many other COVID-era cottage bakers, they started advertising their bread on social media, offering contactless pickup from their front porch. Every Saturday, about 20 residents from the Jamesport area would come to their home to pick up fresh loaves of bread. Not long after, word got out about the new artisanal sourdough business and a demand for wholesale emerged.
“Lauren Lombardi [of Lombardi’s Love Lane Market] was interested in our bread,” Burcroff explained. “A few months later, Sang Lee invited us to do their CSA, so we had customers locked in for like 24 weeks.”
Next, Burcroff and Koons brought their sourdough to the East End Food Market in Riverhead, adding products like cinnamon rolls and pizza dough to their roster.
“By the time we got to the farmers market, it kind of maxed out,” Koons said. “We were making close to 200 items [a week] between sourdough, pizza dough and cinnamon rolls.”
Today, you can find Jamesport Sourdough and Coffee Co. products on the North Fork at Sang Lee Farms, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market and Southold General with deliveries on Saturdays for all locations and on Thursdays for Sang Lee Farms.
“When people see cottage bakeries and they have Saturday as their only delivery day, I think people kind of think of it as ‘Oh, that’s a fun side hobby,’ but if you’re doing big quantities, it takes days to get that done,” Burcroff explained.
The couple spends six days a week keeping Jamesport Sourdough and Coffee Co. running — seven, if you count feeding the starter on Sundays.
As the only employees of the bakery, they alternate between working and taking care of their two children and dogs. For the first four days of the week, Burcroff is in the kitchen, mixing and shaping the dough. “For every baking day, there’s two days of prep,” she explained. Once it’s time for baking, her husband goes out to the family barn, where they keep a commercial steam injection oven.
“He’s Silicon Valley by day and sourdough chef by night,” joked Burcroff. A full-time CFO in the tech industry, Koons bakes in the evening, when traditional work hours have ended. On these nights, he sacrifices sleep to bake bread with an oven that only fits 12 loaves at a time — and with so many orders, there’s rarely enough time or space for extras.
“We have a typical cobbler situation,” explained Burcroff. “We’re making bread for everybody else and then we don’t have bread for ourselves, which is kind of ridiculous.”
Since the beginning, the couple has offered a window into their home business on Instagram, where they document the creative — and sometimes messy — realities of running a cottage bakery.
“There’s a lot of cottage bakers that got started during the pandemic, and now I’m reading more of their accounts and I think we’re all feeling it,” Burcroff confessed. “There can be days where the house is covered in flour and bread, and it’s a mess, and there’s baked goods everywhere, and I’m like, ‘why did we blow up our house with this situation?’ ”
For both Burcroff and Koons, it all comes back to community. It’s why, even with wholesale accounts, they still try to offer porch pickups for their original customers as often as possible.
“It’s a core part of our DNA,” said Burcroff. “That’s why we wouldn’t abandon it.” Holding true to their mission, she and her husband also teach “breaducation” classes at community events and at their children’s school.
“I think people recognize it’s not an easy thing to do — they recognize the time and the labor that goes into it and they’re really appreciative of us being able to bring them the sourdough,” said Koons.“The amount of support and love is overwhelming, and one of the big reasons that we love to keep doing it.”