Cool Hunting: Meet The Ladies Who Brought Us Cool Beans

As part of our new biz feature, we spoke to Isolde and Sarah from Cool Beans, Ireland’s yummiest baked bean breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Cool Beans.              Picture by Shane O'Neill / Copyright Fennell Photography 2015.

They’re a modest pair so we’re going to toot (very immature, we know!) their horns for them. BFF’s Isolde Johnson and Sarah O’Connor met in 2008 when they both worked at Ernst & Young (Sarah continues to work there part-time).

Back then the little (baked) bean baby, Cool Beans, was just a twinkle in their eye but five years later, a successful pop-up at Forbidden Fruit, “where we rocked up in our two metre by one metre Bean Machine with no electricity wires,” reveals Isolde, encouraged her to quit the day job and go all guns blazing into the world of beans, cannellini beans to be precise.

The Prof of Beaneology explains, “your tin of Heinz or Bachelors would be haricot beans which are smaller and harder, whereas cannellini are bigger and softer, and considered one of the best in terms of anti-oxidants, protein, fibre and all that stuff.”


Right now there’s three flavours, original tomato, smokey paprika and hot chilli. “We brought our friend Sophie Morris (of Kooky Dough fame) on board to develop the recipes for us,” says Isolde, “and we use really clean ingredients.

For example, the base of the tomato version contains chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic, then there’s the beans and tomato puree, plus some white wine vinegar, a bit of tamarind paste and a pinch of salt and pepper.”

Cool Beans is a graduate of the Food Academy – a training programme run by Bord Bia, SuperValu and Local Enterprise Offices. “They teach you everything about running a sustainable food business’, Sarah tells STELLAR, “and when the course finishes you pitch to a panel as to why you deserve a spot on a Supervalu shelf. We got through; launched in ten stores in September 2014, and now we’re in 105 SuperValu supermarkets all around the country!” Isolde adds:

“I remember the first delivery I ever did into SuperValu Killester. I took a selfie and went off looking for the manager to get price tags for the products. On my way back I saw a woman pick up a pot of Cool Beans and put it in her basket. I swear to God I nearly cried!”

Do they have any tips for girls about to jump on the commerce carousel? “When you’re starting out it can be tough, so make sure to celebrate all the small wins and successes.” The Bean babes recommend 30-second dance parties! – “we just turn the music up really loud and dance around the kitchen; anything pop, Taylor Swift is a fave!” #heart. Can we join the Cool Bean crew?

Photo credit: Shane O’Neill