Self-taught baker Geoffrey Lewin leaves no crumbs behind in pastry
As the first grandchild of both his maternal and paternal grandmothers, with their help, he learned to create sweet culinary experiences. “They both loved to cook,” Geoffrey Lewin said. So it came as no surprise that he carried on the food legacy, leaving no crumbs behind in his speciality: the sweetness of pastries.
Based in Clarendon, Cuh Crumbs’ menu is composed of what Lewin calls comfort desserts. “These are the things that grandma would make; banana bread, cookies, cakes, and brownies. But they are made with an enriched element. I don’t like to use inferior or substitute ingredients. The end results are both warm and fresh, giving you a homemade feel and taste with every bite,” he told Food.
The most popular items so far are cookies, donut holes, and carrot cake.
Baking for years, he often gave away the desserts to family and friends, leaning on their satisfaction as his ultimate reward. When a loved one advised him to start charging for his baked delights, self-doubt crept in. But then the global pandemic came and Lewin could no longer see himself working in an office. While at home, he was encouraged once again by another friend to put his pastries up for purchase. “She opted to be my first customer and actually paid for something. She went on to assist with the vision and once we began putting things together everything fell in place. And it felt right.”
After brainstorming on simple yet exquisite desserts for the menu, a list was finalised by the team and the baker conducted extensive research thereafter, creating the recipes accordingly. “Each recipe is tested between three to five times. And this is where my family and friends come in; they get to be taste testers and give feedback,” he said, adding that he combines the positive features and responses to then create a master recipe and test it one last time. “If it is perfect, then it gets added to the menu.”
When asked about the name of his business, Lewin confessed that he is unable to take full credit. “It actually came from a joke that a family member would tell me. The joke goes; ‘two crackers ah walk down di road, one get lick down, weh di odda one seh? Cuh Crumbs!’ And I always found it hilarious as a child.”
So when he began exploring ideas, the aim was to settle on a name that would be as delightful as the taste, passionate as the vision but unique in its establishment, without dwelling on those generic sounding traits in the title. He told the joke among a group of friends one night and in jest, suggested Cuh Crumbs as the business name. Everyone loved it.
Describing his business as his ‘COVID baby’, Lewin, opened his doors on July 4, 2020. While everyone was hit with the culture shock of the global pandemic, this self-taught baker brought sweet flavour to taste buds, fulfilling his culinary vision by comforting others in an unprecedented time.
Almost three years later, he continues to be grateful for the tremendous support of friends, companies, and complete strangers. “Initially, when we started, it was good. But I thought people wouldn’t pay it much mind after the launch,” he confessed. But this was the furthest thing from the truth.
He received his first order via Instagram the day after the launch and more orders kept rolling in for the rest of the week. But sales just grew from there. “This initiative is a passion that blossomed into a big business. I can’t describe how great the support has been; it has been massive. We hope it continues on the same momentum,” he added.
These days, they take orders throughout the week and deliver over the weekends to Clarendon and Kingston.
His purpose, going into this sweet industry, is to reshape the landscape of baked goods. Lewin found the desserts that he purchases too sweet for his liking, lacking the distinguished flavour of the right balance thereof and missing the mark in presenting the element of surprise.
“The name alone stands out. Persons are either impressed or tickled by it. And then our Instagram page is fascinating, they don’t expect a small business to look that way. Of course, the quality of the goods is great. Once you try our menu, it’s not going to taste like anything you have had at another pastry shop. There are no preservatives and no additives, everything is natural. And we have very good customer service,” the food-entrepreneur shared.
Listing the cost for ingredients and the desire to reach the wider Jamaican population as company hurdles they have had to jump thus far, Lewin explained that since he had no plans of compromising on quality, he did his best to source from reliable vendors that offered reasonable prices, building a good relationship with them in the process. As for his reach, improvements in delivery were achieved with companies like Knutsford Express.
His hope for Cuh Crumbs is to survive, thrive and later expand the business islandwide. “I want to get to every home in Jamaica, so everybody can get a taste of ‘di crumbs’ and experience it for themselves.”