Before starting Southwest Atlanta microbakery and bread subscription Osono Bread, 24-year-old baker Betsy Gonzalez spent time trekking through Europe, making bread, and learning from several bakers whose work is driven by the communities they serve. This community-centric ideal of being more than “just a bakery” continues to inform and contribute to the growth of Osono Bread.
Gonzalez remembers the constant presence of baked goods and breads throughout her childhood, which later influenced her love for baking. From the weekly visits to the neighborhood panaderia or casual gatherings amongst family and friends over coffee and bread to holiday celebrations, “Understanding the joy of feeding others and the sense of unity through food propelled my love for the craft during my formative years,” Gonzalez says.
After realizing culinary school wasn’t financially feasible for her family, she tucked away her ambitions of becoming a baker and opted for a more “traditional” education at Georgia State University (GSU). Feeling unfulfilled and uninspired at school, Gonzalez left GSU in 2016 for a job baking at Sarah O’Brien’s Little Tart Bakeshop.
But by late 2017, Gonzalez began a deep dive into the world of naturally leavened (sourdough) bread. “I was intrigued by the sense of alchemy behind the craft,” she says. “From simple ingredients — flour, water, salt, and wild yeast — you could create something so nourishing. I became lost with the subtle nuances of every step — mixing, shaping, baking.”
Seeking to expand her bread-baking knowledge, Gonzalez quit her pastry job at Little Tart and booked a one-way ticket to Europe. After spending a few months working in bakeries throughout the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, and Norway, she returned to Atlanta with a renewed passion for baking naturally leavened breads.
Throughout 2018, Gonzalez baked breads in her small home oven, one loaf at a time, delivering to family, friends, and fellow Atlantans. Now, Osono Bread is a full-fledged baking operation in Southwest Atlanta with a commercial bread oven, mixers, bench tables, and nearly 1000 pounds of flour housed in less than 100 square feet.
Gonzalez follows three philosophies at Osono Bread: respecting old world baking traditions, providing “tangible security for the regional agriculture economy,” and working directly with local and regional farmers and millers.
Osono’s breads are baked with Danielsville, Georgia’s Day Spring Farm flour, made from organically grown wheat berries and milled on site. Gonzalez also sources stone-ground whole rye, whole wheat, and whole spelt from Carolina Ground in Asheville, North Carolina. Other breads on the Osono menu use roller-milled bread flour from Lindley Mills based in Graham, North Carolina.
“Osono Bread is a tiny but mighty one-woman show, but owes a lot of its success and ability to sustain itself to the people who took a chance on the business,” Gonzalez says. “From the strangers who DM’d me on Instagram for bread before Osono had a name, to the folks behind Cultured South and the Spindle [Kitchen] who offered pick-up locations for my bread subscriptions, to the farmers at Freewheel Farms and Aluma Farm who provided the opportunity to continue connecting with the community via food. Osono truly feels like a community-supported bakehouse.”
Community was, and remains, the unifying theme in Gonzalez’s baking journey. Her European bread mentors welcomed her with open arms. The growers in Georgia continue to teach her the importance of supporting local agriculture, the power of a conscious consumer, and the benefits of knowing where one’s food comes from within a community.
Gonzalez credits her mother for the “endless love, tenacity, and sacrifices,” which she says allowed her, a first-generation American, to seek out these opportunities and eventually start her own business.
“The success of Osono Bread is solely owed to my community. The dedication of bread lovers and enthusiasts and their support to see the growth of this bakery is something I could never have expected.”