Ryan Coover, the man (along with his family) behind Coover Caramels, took some time off from making his sweet, buttery drops of heaven to answer a few questions. We find out what led him to start Coover, what has surprised him about starting his business, his go-to gift (spoiler alert) Coover Caramels, and more.
What were you doing before you started Coover Caramels?
I was using my creative license and my background as an architect to do my best as a stay-at-home dad. I have been successful because of my supportive wife, Shirien Coover. She is one of the finest physician assistants, and Central Austin Dermatology is lucky to have her. When she’s not working, she’s rocking the kids’ world with her loving touch! When we started Coover Caramels in 2014, our children, Layli and Kai, were six and four years of age.
How would you describe the taste of a caramel to someone who has never tried one?
So many people start by telling me they don’t like caramel. In fact, at my first corporate meeting, I was passing out samples to nine sales reps, and one said, “Oh, I don’t like caramel. Give it to Judy, she’ll eat it.” I kindly smiled and began to tell my story about why I was making caramels with my kids. About halfway through my story, I was abruptly interrupted with, “OH MY GOD – this is so GOOD!” This was the same person who was so adamant about not liking caramel. She really helped me seal the deal!
But looking back, I’ll never forget our first batch of caramel. It was so delicious that it brought tears to my eyes…. And that was just the beginning. Eating Coover Caramels is truly an experience. Not too sweet, not too sticky—they’re a rich, creamy, buttery sensation. Watch Layli at age three eating caramel right out of the tray. This really says it all.
What’s the most surprising thing about starting Coover Caramels?
I was surprised by how difficult the food industry is, even with a single product like caramels. As I launched into a simple project with my kids, I had no idea that I’d stumble into so many regulations at the local, state, and national levels. One regulation spawned another, and for each requirement I was completely unprepared. But as the orders kept rolling in, we just kept walking through the hoops… and now we’re off and running.
I was also surprised to discover that when you set out to produce a local product, you inevitably make a connection with the community, which is very powerful. For me, this connection is what it’s all about!
Do you have a favorite recipe that uses Coover Caramels?
My personal favorite is making caramel apples in our own creative way.
Here is a video of how I made them with the kids before bedtime.
What local products do you use at home?
Austin’s Good Flow Honey Company honey and Sweet Leaf organic mint and honey green tea are our family’s favorite local products. It seems like we really love our sweets!
But, my real favorite local products come from my neighbor: Mrs. LaFuente’s made-from-scratch salsa and chocolate cupcakes. I am not sure if you can get any closer to local than this, which is a kind reminder that food brings us all closer together. So, the next time you are test-kitchen’ it, open your door, knock on the door next to you, and share!
What is your go-to gift to give besides Coover Caramels?
You know, I can’t legally answer this one!
Tell us how we can Make Life Sweeter.
We started a social campaign called “Be More Than Just Sweet” after volunteering at SAFE: Stop Abuse For Everyone. As I help others, I also want to teach my kids to become servants to humanity. Here’s how you can help:
- Befriend – Offer your presence and listen.
- Protect – Stand as an ally and call for help.
- Empower – Accompany your friend toward confident flight.
“Make every action brilliant!” – Ryan Coover
To learn more, please visit: http://www.coovercaramels.com/life-really-can-be-sweeter
In closing, I’d like to send a big, happy hugging thanks to Courtney, Carolyn, Sam, Rob, and the other friends at BATCH for their positive actions in supporting small batch makers like us. I love being able to call y’all family!