The Journey to Teffola

Our journey to Teffola, or teff granola for those who are new, really started a year after we began planting teff. I had moved back to Michigan to start something with teff but I didn't know what it would be. All I knew was that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than retail. 

The original intent was to fulfill a need for Ethiopian expatriates. Ethiopians use teff in their injera, the spongy flatbread they eat daily, so we thought if we could mill it into a flour we could then sell to Ethiopian restaurants across the country. The plan technically worked. My dad and I found a mill that knew how to grind teff grain into a flour (not very common!) and package it into small 2 and 5 pound quantities. 

The only platform we sold the ivory and brown teff flour on was Amazon which was probably why we had difficulty gaining traction. We sold on Amazon for about a year and a half but not very many people knew what teff was much less how to cook with it. I saw this problem and knew that I had to introduce teff to people in an accessible and familiar way. So I started experimenting in the kitchen in the summer of 2017.

I started with the flour making gluten free all purpose flour blends, muffins, breads, cookies. But I'm not a pro with gluten free baking and all the chemistry that it requires so I moved to using the whole grain. I tried energy bites and crackers but the magic didn't really happen until I put the whole teff grain into granola. I was raised on homemade granola made with oats, butter, wheat germ and some raisins. As I got older and started making my own version, I put different ingredients found in my pantry. So pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, and buckwheat groats made their way into the bowl with almonds and walnuts.

When I added teff to all these ingredients, it created an incredible nutty flavor unlike anything I had tried before. The picture above is that first attempt! After tweaking the recipe here and there, adding dried cranberries and a healthy dose of cinnamon, I took it to my rather particular older sister. She and her husband ate a pound of it in 2 days and wanted more teff granola. That's when I knew I was onto something. Soon after I took the recipe to a local commercial kitchen and launched it at a little holiday market in November of 2017. 

At that first market when I didn't know what I was doing besides offering little yogurt and Teffola samples, I sold 19 bags in 3 hours. And that was the beginning of Teffola. 

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