Coconut Butter and More from Essentially Coconut
While coconuts may not be a Rhode Island crop (we can dream!), Essentially Coconut is certainly a business with local ties. Sophia Gartland began the company in 2012, after the birth of her son. With three older children and a baby, she wanted something to focus on besides child rearing—and her background in nutrition led her to the kitchen. Experimenting with coconut meat and different nuts and sweeteners, she stumbled upon a winning recipe for a coconut butter, which quickly evolved into the company Essentially Coconut.
She now offers four tasty blends: Original, Sweet Almond, Creamy Cashew and, the newest, Honey Pecan. She sources all of her nuts from Virginia & Spanish Peanut Company, a 100-year-old Rhode Island company.
Coconut oil is a hot food item right now but while coconut oil is made from pressing the oils from the coconut meat, coconut butter is made using the whole meat. It contains the healthy medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil but fiber, vitamins and minerals too. When combined with nuts and a bit of natural sweetener, the result is delicious and offers a substitute for more traditional nut butters.
When Sophia first started her business the nearest commercial kitchen was located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. When she received word that Hope & Main was opening its doors last year, she quickly made the switch, thankful to bring operations closer to home. But what she found was so much more than just a facility.
“There is a sense of community within the walls of Hope & Main,” says Sophia. “While we all may be in different stages of our businesses, we can all learn from each other. I don’t feel like I’m so alone in the big world of trying to start a food business. That’s comforting.”