In Cercs, a town with just over 1,000 inhabitants in the Berguedà region near Barcelona, we find an ancient bakery called Ca l’Agustí.
It is run by Agustí Costa (fifth generation) and his wife Pilar, who have been working here since 1884 with high quality raw materials and local products. They are extremely popular with lovers of different types of breads with colour, flavour, a moist crumb, long fermentations, and natural sourdough. Their top seller is the popular Coca de Cercs, made with a traditional formula that has been passed down from generation to generation. The dough is made with flour, natural sourdough, a little olive oil and sugar.
1.- What are the advantages and disadvantages for a baker working in a rural environment?
The tranquillity, the pure air, less pollution. What’s more, communication is getting easier and easier and trips to the city are relatively short by car. Of course, cars are essential for trips between neighbouring towns. You can forget about public transport.
The downside is that there are few qualified workers in rural areas.
2.- What are the keys to being popular and attracting people from other nearby towns?
I think the secret is to have fun with what you are doing, to be passionate about the job, not care about how long you spend at work and training, and try to stand out from the people around you, because if you do not have a product or service that is different from the rest, people will not come to you.
3.- Does having a bakery in a sparsely populated area mean you need to reduce costs and adapt to the tastes of a very specific clientèle? Or does it give you the freedom to be creative and experiment?
You have to adapt to the customers’ tastes, offer high quality products and, if possible, innovations. Anyone can be creative and experiment, but it takes a lot of effort and many hours of work and training.
4.- Does being away from the city cause any problems when it comes to getting the supplies you need? Do you have to place larger orders or order in advance?
It does not usually cause me many problems, since we are increasingly better connected.
5.- Do factors such as the weather influence the normal operation of the bakery?
Of course, heat, cold, humidity, wind, altitude, type of water… everything has a lot to do with any baking process.
6.- What tips do you have for other bakers who would like to set up shop in a village but haven’t done so yet?
If you like the country life and tranquillity, don’t hesitate for a moment, but remember that cities have a lot of amenities you will not find in the towns that you are sure to miss.