Sister/Brother from other Mister/Mother:

Sara Kubiak of The Vanilla Bean Project

Meet Sara Kubiak! Sara is the founder of the Vanilla Bean Project, a modern vanilla extract company working with old fashioned recipes. Sara and Andy, her husband, started the business about four years ago when they realized that wanted to make something together that they could turn into a business.

Frankly, we couldn’t resist meeting with Sara when her outreach e-mail to us started by enumerating the reasons she loved the Sisters. One of her top reasons “We listen to Pussy Riot when we make our vanilla. Seriously, I almost fell out of my chair when I read the blog post on your website.” She was referring to our blog post “There’s resisting and then there’s resisting: Pussy Riot, calling out Putin before it was cool”. This blog is even more true today than when we wrote it and we knew that we were kindred spirits with Sara from the beginning. But we digress…

Before the Vanilla Bean Project, Sara and Andy started Decentralized Foods as a way to better support people who grow our food. Initially focused black pepper, they shifted their focus to vanilla after doing more research and realizing they could make more of an impact with vanilla. So, Sara found an old recipe from a book, made their first bottle and sold it at farmers’ markets and local grocery stores.

Sara loves vanilla’s origin story. While many different products–baked goods, coffees and even skin care–contain vanilla, people know very little about where it comes from or how it is processed. Vanilla actually comes from the vanilla orchid. It is native to Mexico, but was brought to Madagascar, which currently supplies about 90% of the world’s vanilla. The plant is still found in Mexico along with other places such as Tahiti and Papua New Guinea. Vanilla needs a specific climate to survive and Madagascar has the perfect conditions for it to thrive. One challenge to that region though is there are no native pollinators, so its is a very labor intensive plant to grow.

A key tenet of the Vanilla Bean Project is to ensure they do right by the farms growing the products. Sara and Andy source the vanilla beans from a certified farmer cooperative in Madagascar. They receive a cured bean from the farmers and then process it to make either vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. They then sell it wholesale to businesses, in grocery stores or direct to consumers.

Sara’s favorite parts of her business are getting to taste the products that a producer made with her vanilla and making the connections with the people who use Vanilla Bean Project’s vanilla. The good news is that we can spend more time getting to know Sara. The Sisters have just made our first purchases of vanilla extract from the Vanilla Bean Project. Our ice cream tests made with her vanilla were seriously fantastic and easily won blind taste tests among our team. Within weeks, we’ll begin using their vanilla for all of our ice creams. Sara says her favorite flavor of ice cream cream is Chaste Anne (we too were surprised it’s not Plain Jane Vanilla).

We’re thrilled to be working with Sara and Andy using their extraordinary product to continue to improve on the best farm-to-cone ice cream there is. We love the Vanilla Bean Project’s work to create delicious vanilla products while supporting the farmers who grow the product!

It’s not you…. It’s us…..we’re at our order max for the week. Read the order FAQs.