You’ve seen them on Instagram, you’ve probably even attempted making your own at home and one thing is for sure – smoothie bowls are the stylish breakfast du jour. As easy on the eye as they are on the taste buds, creating an extra thick smoothie, swapping your glass for a bowl and adorning it liberally with crunchy toppings, fresh fruit and nut butters makes for a sweet and nutritious start to the day or a snap worthy snack.
From a nutritional perspective, smoothie bowls can be designed to be as beautiful on the inside as the outside, as young entrepreneurs Rebecca Feely and Jennifer Hughes are demonstrating with their new venture – Kale + Coco. The International Business graduates returned to Ireland having traveled the world gathering inspiration to start their own food journey.
Kale + Coco is Dublin’s first dedicated smoothie bowl bar and takes the hassle of creating your own masterpiece out of the equation. This exciting summer pop-up is housed in health food Mecca Cocu on Hatch street, already a go-to for a nutritious breakfast or lunch. Always ahead of the latest trend, Cocu seems like the perfect match for these bowls with benefits.
Offering kaleidoscopic bowls of greatness in a range of drool-worthy flavours, Rebecca and Jennifer are making feasting healthfully into a luxurious ritual – getting your five a day in one bowl has never been this delicious! We caught up with the girls to get the inside scoop on Dublin’s first smoothie bowl bar.
Which bowl will get people in the door and which will keep them coming back for more?
We put a lot of thought into the menu, especially our signature bowls, and are pretty happy with the variety and flavours we have on offer. As beautiful as the bowls may look or sound, it was really important to us that they tasted great too.
We reckon people will first come in to get their açaí fix. It’s the one people will probably be most familiar with if they’ve been travelling or living abroad, especially in Brazil, where it açaí comes from, and it’s also become very popular in Australia and the US. We think they’ll come back then to make their way through the rest of menu until they’ve found “their bowl”. We like to think we’ve catered for most taste buds and cravings, whether they’re looking some post-workout fuel (Protein Punch), something very clean and healthy (50 Shades of Green) or a bit of a healthy indulgence (Treat Yo’ Self).
We’re also very excited to be one of the first places in Ireland to use Amazonia’s Organic Frozen Pitaya (dragon fruit), and we expect that once people start seeing more of this beautiful, bright pink fruit everywhere it’s going to become one of our most popular bowls!
How did Kale + Coco team up with Cocu?
We came across Cocu while we where searching for pop-up spaces on Popertee – Ireland’s version of an Airbnb for pop-up spaces (it connects people with ideas for events/pop-ups with those that have a commercial space to rent). Popertee arranged for us to have the initial sit-down with the Cocu team and we think straight away both sides were pretty confident it would be a good match and we started making plans then for the summer pop-up.
Why are you a great brand match for Cocu’s customers?
Like Cocu, we are offering a quick but healthy food option for the people of Dublin. Cocu’s customers appreciate good taste and want something that’s consistent in quality whilst also being healthy. And that is what we’re aiming to provide. We believe our product is a great complimentary range to what Cocu is already providing and will offer their customers an even broader range of breakfast and lunch options. We think are brands are very much in line in that providing fresh and nutritious food is very much at the core of both of our businesses.
What have you learned from Emilia Rowan and Cocu as a pioneering nutritionally aware eatery in Dublin?
Emilia and the Cocu team have been a wealth of knowledge and have been incredibly helpful and supportive from the get-go. Aside from all of the day-to-day operational know-how, one of the most important things we’ve learned is that no matter how nutritious we make our food, we can’t compromise on taste.
They’ve also been great in terms of encouraging us to take some risks with our menu. Many of the ingredients we use will be quite new to the people of Dublin and I think having Cocu’s encouragement behind us has definitely given us the confidence to push the boundaries a little, and hopefully introduce the people of Ireland to some exciting new health foods.
What is the most exciting thing about establishing your own health-focused brand in the Irish market, which is increasingly nutritionally aware?
We had both been living abroad for five years, so when we came home last year we were really pleasantly surprised to find that we were returning to a very different Dublin than the one we had left five years ago. Dublin is now buzzing with exciting new start-ups, restaurants, cafes, pop-ups, community experiences etc. We could definitely see the health and wellness scene starting to take hold here and we wanted in.
We love that we get to be a little piece of that health conscious movement and are really excited to see Dublin’s wellness scene grow to rival that of other big cities around the world, like those that we’ve been lucky enough to visit and live in.
We’re very excited to be a part of the conversation around our health as a nation and particularly the important role that food has to play in that. We’ve really been overwhelmed by how supportive and helpful everyone we’ve encountered on our journey so far has been.
We strongly believe there’s a new generation of entrepreneurs emerging in Ireland now that are really recognising the importance of collaborating with and supporting each other. We think it’s particularly evident in the health and wellness space at the moment and it’s been incredibly uplifting and motivating to be operating within that environment.
What difficulties have you faced establishing Kale + Coco?
We could probably talk a lot about logistical nightmares, equipment breakdowns (we woke up this morning to a flooded unit and a leaking steamer!) and navigating unknown legal frameworks but one of the biggest challenges has been determining whether people really want what we’re offering. It’s all well and good to come up with a product that you think is great, but if nobody actually wants to buy it you don’t have a business, so we spent a lot of time on market research.
One of the most frustrating things for us has probably been dealing with delays with the business admin side of things but having said that, we’ve been pretty proud of our little country and the incredible wealth of supports that are out there for new businesses. The support available to start-ups here (Enterprise Ireland, the LEOs, the Universities) was definitely a deciding factor for us when we were thinking about where we wanted to start our business.
As this is a Pop-Up, what is the grand plan for Kale + Coco going forward?
We have a LOT of very exciting plans for the future but unfortunately these things take time and will no doubt change and evolve as we grow. We tend to get very caught up with all of our exciting ideas for the future but have to keep reminding ourselves to focus on doing one thing well first before jumping into new ventures.
Our fist step post pop-up will be to be to look for our own space. After that we’ll be hoping to open a few more locations both in Ireland and possibly in a couple of markets abroad. We’re also looking into productizing our service for distribution so that may be on the horizon in the not so distant future too. For now we’re focusing on the summer pop-up, but it’s definitely just the beginning for Kale and Coco!
Kale + Coco is now open in Cocu Hatch Street and is serving smoothie bowls and superfood lattes (think moringa, beetroot and turmeric!) from 9am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday for the summer months. For more information click here.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.