Seylou sells bread made with such grains as millet, sorghum and buckwheat. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

The cafe portion of Seylou Bakery and Mill in Shaw is dwarfed by its gaping kitchen. That’s because it takes a lot of space to hold the 14-foot oven, the 1,600-pound mill and the giant ambitions of baker Jonathan Bethony.

Bethony, who owns the bakery with his wife, Jessica Azeez, has been hailed as “the Steve Jobs of bread.” He hopes to change how the carby staple is made, starting with the grain.

Unlike most bakeries, Bethony mills his own flour from locally sourced grains that are often overlooked, including millet, sorghum and buckwheat, in place of more common varieties such as wheat and rye. Though fresh milling takes more time, he says the process results in aromatic flour and gives the bread more nuanced flavors. 

From start to finish, producing a loaf of bread at Seylou takes Bethony two to three days. “There are so many different kinds and varieties and types and flavors" of grains, he says. “They’re underutilized, and they happen to be good for the soil and crop rotation.”

Washington doesn't have an abundance of locally owned bakeries, which makes Seylou's debut all the more notable. Besides such spots as Bread Furst, A Baked Joint and Le Caprice, few places devote extra attention to the craft of baking bread.


Seylou is run by husband-and-wife team Jonathan Bethony and Jessica Azeez. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Seylou serves full and half portions of just-baked loaves, including a whole-wheat ciabatta, a spelt loaf and a millet baguette ($12, or $6 for a half), which are available Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. On weekends, most breads are offered by the slice with the option of grass-fed butter.

One of Seylou’s special offerings is "horse bread," made with legumes, sorghum, millet and mustard seed. Though the name might not make you salivate — the nutrient-rich bread was originally served to racehorses — it’s hearty and earthy, with a dense crumb and chewy crust.

Seylou also offers a selection of whole grain pastries, including quiches, tarts, scones and croissants so flaky they nearly disintegrate upon touch. A no-refined-sugar policy means treats are sweetened with additions like honey and maple sugar.

Everything is baked in a wood-fired oven, which traps steam from the loaves and makes them aromatic and delicious, Bethony adds.

The small cafe houses a handful of tables and doles out coffee made with Small Planes Coffee beans. Don’t miss the masala chai, prepared with fresh-ground whole spices. Naturally, it takes several hours to steep before it hits your cup.

926 N St. NW, Suite A.

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