‘It’s a labour of love’ is a saying some of us might use about our working life or hobbies.
But for one Coleraine couple, it’s a true reflection of their journey as artisan producers.
Tara and Callum Joy, purveyors of Taste Joy Artisan Peanut Butter, met in 2016 amid the romantic surroundings of the homeware department in TK Maxx, Coleraine.
As well as confessing their love for each other, Tara quickly admitted to a deeply held passion for peanut butter, which stems from her coeliac diagnosis.
“This started around 15 years ago, when most gluten free food was tasteless and like eating cardboard so hunger drove me to peanut butter and I have loved it ever since,” said Tara.
So much so, that Callum presented her with a (shop-bought) jar on their first date, before upping the ante and teaching himself to make his own version of the sweet treat especially for Tara.
“He said to me ‘I’ll make you this forever’, and then my family got to try it and I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer and he ended up making it all the time.
“ It got to the point that we were asking ourselves should we be doing something more with this.”
And so Taste Joy Artisan Peanut Butter was born, with Callum juggling the production process around his full-time job, and Tara overseeing labelling and jarring while taking her role as CEO (Chief Eating Officer) very seriously!
Taste Joy products are all made at home, with every jar done by hand – it doesn’t get more artisan than that!
The couple credit their decision to supply beyond family members to Middletown Coffee Co. in Ballymena, who were so impressed by it’s quality that they wanted to sell it in store.
After finalising their branding, the product went public and is now available in a growing number of outlets in the Causeway Coast and beyond.
Earlier this year, the product was part of the Taste Causeway showcase at Balmoral Show which Tara describes as Taste Joy’s first ‘meet & greet’. It received a great reception, and caught the eye of a Blas na hEireann representative, Ireland’s top foodie awards.
With this encouragement, Tara and Callum decided to enter and were delighted to receive a bronze accolade for their Double Roasted Crunchy flavour earlier this month.
Tara said: “We went to Dingle for the awards, and both found it to be a brilliant experience.
“There’s a really nice foodie community down there, and we were up against a lot of producers who have been in the game a lot longer than us so there was lots to learn for us.”
Despite this significant endorsement, Tara admits that she continues to feel quite ‘shy’ when it comes to their Taste Joy products but she is so appreciative of the reaction it has received from consumers and other producers.
As a fledgling business, Tara and Callum have taken part in a series of beneficial workshops organised by Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market and they have praised other stallholders for providing guidance and advice along the way.
This weekend, Taste Joy will be at St George’s Market in Belfast on Saturday for the very first time (October 19th) as part of a Taste the Island initiative and they’ll be at Causeway Speciality Market before Christmas.
Making a connection with the public is hugely important to both Tara and Callum, and the market environment puts them in direct contact with their customers.
“The public have been very kind with their comments about our peanut butter, and people love that it is just the two of us involved in making it,” Tara said.
In Tara and Callum’s words, Taste Joy is made with love for love, always was and always will be.
And now they can’t wait to share it with you.
To find out more search Taste Joy on Facebook and Instagram or email email@example.com