Photo by F. James Conley. See more by Conley at 

Photo by F. James Conley. See more by Conley at 


In some ways, Backyard Bread began when Sam was 16 and built his first oven. A few friends helped carry clay from the stream down the hill, and so began the new adventure with bread. Since then new ovens have been built with new people, and new breads have been baked.

But one thing hasn't changed: people are still drawn to the backyard when the smoke starts to rise.  A musician plays, the first pizza comes out and all of a sudden we have a party. 

Backyard Bread is not about baking the perfect loaf; it is about starting that party, again and again, in Sam's backyard and yours. We believe that communities will be at their best when the oven is hot, the pizza is plenty, and people are fed. 


Sam Coates-Finke first learned to bake from his mom.  He baked in commercial kitchens throughout college, and baked professionally for Philly Bread. He taught baking in Oberlin, OH and in Philadelphia, where he co-founded the Breaducation program at Philly Bread. Sam considers himself first a teacher, then a baker.  As much as he loves the craft of baking, his students inspire him more than any loaf ever has. He has been tutoring and teaching students of all ages for five years, in subjects including: college writing, math, test prep, study skills, and general education as a paraprofessional and a substitute teacher. 


Lenny Cohen  has worked for an historic restoration contractor, an ornamental plastering studio, and a masonry firm in Charleston, SC. He now lives in Philadelphia, PA. and works with a company dedicated to masonry preservation and traditional plastering. He is fascinated by ancient cultures and the lost arts behind masonry construction and sourdough baking. His oven design philosophy stems from time-honored building methods and materials that are functional, durable and beautiful. Lenny's masonry expertise makes him an invaluable part of Backyard Bread.