Few businesses start with the suggestion, “Let’s go for a bike ride.” And few bike rides start with the idea of cycling from England to Thailand. But that is exactly what former teachers Jo Howson and Mat Hulett decided in 2012. It was on their travels through India that they sampled their first lassi – a traditional blend of yoghurt flavoured with fresh fruit and spices. They were hooked. The bikes went into storage and the pair travelled across India by train on a three-month ‘lassi trail’. As Mat says, “During our tour we came across lassis so thick they had to be eaten with a spoon and others made with sour buttermilk, which left us feeling queasy”.
Once back from India they moved to Lashbrook Farm in Oxfordshire and began recreating their own versions of the Indian lassi. The drinks proved so popular with friends and family that the duo began selling them at farmers’ markets and Lashbrook Lassis was born as a business. After two years of development there are now three flavours: (i) pear, spinach & ginger, (ii) coffee, pistachio & cardamom and (iii) beetroot, fig and cinnamon. Jo and Mat source their yoghurt from the local dairy and manufacture the lassis at the Nettlebed Creamery in Henley-on-Thames. And the response from customers has been overwhelming. As Jo explains “We expected our lassis would appeal to young professionals looking for a healthy ‘on-the-go’ treat. However, we are delighted to also attract more adventurous consumers and those of Asian descent who enjoy our link to their heritage”.
Jo and Mat have since been in discussion with major retailers, and plan to supply stores across the country. “Retailers have loved our lassis and that we are creating products unlike anything on the market” says Mat. This was confirmed when they were awarded both ‘Best Drinks Product’ and ‘Visitors’ Choice Award’ at the Caffe Culture Show in London this year. Jo says, “It’s a very exciting time for us at the moment and we’re delighted by the positive reaction to our lassis from both customers and retailers alike”. So what’s next for them? Well, they are already writing their first book about their Indian adventure. And further trips are planned to other continents in order to identify culinary treasures that they can recreate back home. Surely it can only be a matter of time before they have their own TV series…?
Jo Howson and Matthew Hulett
phone: +44 (0) 1865 893221