The world of fine chocolate is a wonderful one full of glorious beans such as criollo, trinitario, cacao nacional & carenero superior, all grown in "The Cocoa Belt" of equatorial countries up to 20 degrees either side of the equator, each creating chocolate with very different, complex flavour notes which are also influenced by how it is grown, harvested & processed…similar to wine & quite fascinating.
We only work with fine chocolate made with pure cocoa butter (& no vegetable fats which have no place in fine chocolate). To date, we don't make chocolate from beans, we are chocolatiers working with couverture chocolate to make all our creations. To use a baking analogy, we are the bakers, rather than the millers. We love working with chocolate produced from bean to couverture in its country of origin wherever possible as we believe that it supports the local economy, but all are of clear provenance and integrity, all have unique flavour notes & all contribute to our sole aim of delighting you with the resulting taste sensations.
Our chocolate comes from...
Madagascar has built a reputation for growing fine cocoa beans that produce delicious chocolate. We work with a 67% criollo & trinitario bean dark chocolate with hints of red berry fruits, liquorice & coffee as our house dark chocolate for many of our dark chocolate creations, and also for baking cakes & chocolate chip scones for our cafés.
We are also now working with Chocolaterie Robert, a Madagascan chocolate company established in 1940 making all their chocolate from bean to bar on the island. Bursting with red berry fruit notes, gentle acidity and a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel, we work with their 64% dark chocolate for ganaches, the 70% is used to make all our hot chocolates in our cafes in Swanage & Winchester and we sell their gorgeous 50% milk chocolate bar (yes you did read that correctly!), 65% & 100% dark chocolate bars in our shops.
We are also huge fans of Venezuelan chocolate and over the years have worked with ethically sourced carenero superior bean origin chocolate made from cocoa bean to couverture chocolate in Venezuela by El Rey, an independent company who pay above-market prices for their cocoa beans from the Aprocao co-operative. Supply from El Rey has been tricky in recent years, but we have been able to source another delicious milk chocolate from Venezuela as our house milk chocolate that is also very high in cocoa solids at 43% (& therefore relatively low in sugar).
We now also work with MAROU chocolate made in Vietnam with fine cocoa beans grown on family owned cocoa farms from different regions within Vietnam. Set up by Sam & Vincent, two Frenchmen living out there, Marou single origin Vietnamese chocolate is produced in Saigon with 100% local ingredients, including the stylish packaging for their bars which we also sell in both our shops. We use their couverture to make our award-winning Spirit of Saigon chocolate with an infused coconut milk ganache.
We are now working with 100% Colombian dark chocolate produced in Colombia which is great for the local Colombian economy. Using fino de aroma fine beans, this 100% chocolate is totally pure - no added sugar, soya lecithin or vanilla. We are currently using it to make 100% hot chocolates in our cafes and who knows, we may find other ways to work with it too!
Better known as the Isle of Spice, as nutmeg is one of its major exports, there is also an expanding cocoa industry on this Caribbean island, driven primarily by the efforts of Mott Green, the founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company. Mott sadly died in 2013, but his team of local people led by Edmund are building on his legacy & make their chocolate from locally grown organic trinitario cocoa beans in a tiny solar powered factory in the north of the island & then sail it across the Atlantic each spring by a Brigantine sailing ship! We would describe their chocolate as being "beyond fairtrade" - they are hugely ethical (they describe themselves as "a cocoa-growing and chocolate-making cooperative producing single origin chocolate from tree to bar") and there is a very short supply chain in that we order it from Rococo in London (who have invested in the business & import it into the UK) - no middlemen or complex distribution channels involved.
We stock the full range of all the Grenada Chocolate Company bars with cocoa solids contents ranging from 60% to 100% and also includes bars flavoured with sea salt or roasted cocoa nibs.
The Dominican Republic
Our house white chocolate is made with cocoa butter from the Dominican Republic that is both aromatic & more flavoursome, (with hints of flowers & dried fruits), than most other white chocolates as, unusually, it is made with undeodorised natural cocoa butter.
By the way, to simply explain why white chocolate is white, it's because it only incorporates cocoa butter which is c50% of every cocoa bean. When roasted cocoa beans are crushed, they form a paste & when that paste is pressed, the fat, or cocoa butter, is extracted. This is white & has the melting properties of chocolate whilst what is left, cocoa powder, has the colour & flavour of chocolate - you need the two to get the full chocolate experience! Hence we don't make a huge amount of white chocolate products.
We also stock a range of chocolate drops made with cocoa beans grown in different countries including;
Tanzania: an intense yet soft, fruity chocolate with 75% cocoa solids and a clean smooth finish made with trinitario beans from cocoa farmers with small holdings, of average 200 trees each, in the Kyela district in the south of Tanzania.
Ecuador: a smooth 71% dark chocolate made with the cacao nacional bean with a delicate cocoa taste plus hints of floral flavour notes and earth on the finish, characteristic of this bean type from this region.
Costa Rica: a rich milk chocolate with 38% cocoa solids made with cocoa beans sourced from a Rainforest Alliance Certified farm, guaranteeing that these beans have been grown and harvested responsibly.