Photographed BY DAN laughton
John Layton, founder and maker of ‘Nuff Said Nut Spread’ spoke to us about his coffee and nut spread start-up. Here’s the story behind the brand and why we should all be spreading Nuff Said on our toast.
A nut spread that fulfills our coffee needs. Could you tell me a little about the origin story of Nuff said?
I’ve worked in quite a few jobs, mainly the Police in forensics and in film production… So really making peanut butter was the natural next step! Nah, I’ve got quite an obsessive personality which can be good and bad, good for ideas and learning but bad for hard drugs! Luckily the latter never tickled my fancy!
I got really into good coffee, how beans were roasted, the cupping process, the origin, I even grew a hipster moustache and bought a Macbook for the full millennial experience. Another obsession was nut butter, which was spawned out of researching low sugar diets, as I was on a health kick, nuts are perfect, full of healthy fats and pretty low carb. I got bored of eating them whole so messed around with blending them up to make butters.
I noticed the nut butter market didn’t have any coffee flavours? Probably for a good reason haha, but I wanted to try and combine the two and make it into something people would repeatedly use in their daily meals or snacks!
Did your lifestyle lead you to create a nut butter with a caffeine kick?
Like a German Shepherd I love a bit of exercise, I cycle, run, lift weights, go hiking but somehow still seem to only have one ab! It’s more for the feeling of endorphins and dopamine releasing post exercise that charge me through my day. Sometimes in the morning I need some fuel on board but don’t want to digest a heavy meal, so I started mixing supermarket instant coffee in with cheap peanut butter and wolfing down a spoonful. It wasn’t the best quality but I found it was just enough healthy fats and caffeine to propel me through a workout.
After a while I started experimenting with various nut butters and coffees, then in the end decided to Ebay my life to raise the cash to import a peanut grinding machine (called Bertha). Bertha allowed me to make a natural version from scratch without any sugar, oils or salt. She does however get sick of eating peanuts….maybe I should stop anthropomorphising a kitchen appliance....I hope she doesn’t read this.
Where do you think your passion for healthy eating comes from?
Well, my own passion for healthy eating came from being a chunky monkey in School, and feeling bad about myself all the time. It wasn’t so much the way I looked, but how I felt. I was eating ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE and getting through a whole box of Cookie Crisp cereal in a day. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle with that kind of eating disorder, as you feel and look bad so you eat to make yourself feel better, then look worse.
I think with most issues people overcome, they use that previous state they were in as fuel to keep moving forward in life, but I also think momentum creates passion too, like, it’s always hard getting started but once your noticing changes it’s much easier to carry on...and then get addicted to that feeling! That’s why I didn’t want to compromise Nuff Said by adding sugar or sweeteners into it, I wanted to make it simple, only two ingredients, no crap chemicals and to make it easy for people to use on a variety of things.
Creating a product and business is something that consumes spare time, do you mind this affecting your lifestyle?
Basically I bloody love a project! I like learning new skills, meeting interesting people, failing at things and learning from them. This taking up my spare time is not really an issue, as I love it and think about how to make it better all the time. Like, i’ll be asleep one minute then bolt upright scribbling down ideas the next, obviously unreadable in the light of day as my handwriting is like the RugRat font. I think any food start-up founder will say the same, It’s not a job to them, they aren’t selling their time to an employer and clocking out at 5pm. It’s more like their baby, and I suppose Nuff Said Nut Spread is my baby…...made of peanuts.
I think the products that are successful are ones born out of that passion rather than margins and making money. I grew up in the 90’s and love the whole resurgence of that style coming back into fashion and wanted to incorporate that nostalgia within something I make. I used to love the characters you get on cereal boxes, so wanted to do the same for this, and so Bruiser was born, a sarcastic ape who provides quotes for the labels and website. I get excited trying to do something different, other natural nut butters have earthy colour palettes, pretty safe, which is fine but I wanted to inject a bit of character into nut butter. Which could also work well as merch, like t-shirts, badges and coffee cups.
Are there any taste testers helping you fine-tune the flavour of Nuff Said?
Yeah my partner Charlotte has been my main human Guinea pig, she’ll be watching TV on the sofa and I will appear behind her in a sort of Gollum like posture, before she can hit pause on Game of Thrones i’ve shoved three teaspoons with various concoctions in her face. I’ve ruined that last season for her! But yeah, I learnt a lot from doing markets last year, it’s great how brutally honest people can be! I had an old lady come up who didn’t know what Espresso was, take a sample, chew it, spit it out, mutter the word “christ” and proceeded to put her electric scooter into fifth gear! Also I found that there was a demand for a Decaf version as a man gave a sample on some apple to his whippet, before I could stop him, not knowing caffeine is a no go for dogs! So with a Decaf, kids and all animals can now go nuts.
I think these days people are taking the time to appreciate quality coffee and healthy eating, and espresso peanut butter is something that hasn’t existed before. I think it solves a problem of a little pick me up on toast, fruit, in a shake or just out the jar with no sugar! People have said it’s like having a peanutty Americano! Like Mufasa holding Simba up on that cliff edge, I love holding a jar in my hand and seeing how everything has come together, all the trial and error is worth it to make something people like to eat! It’s a great feeling, especially when you see the same customers coming back again and again.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been into Sainsbury’s and put a jar of Nuff Said Nut Spread on the jams and spreads shelf next to the well known brands. Then taken a photo for the wallpaper on my phone. It’s like a little visual reminder of my future goal.