The Rise In UK Bean To Bar Chocolate Makers
By Lea Tierney
The chocolate aficionados amongst you might have noticed a recent uptick in brands offering “bean to bar chocolate”. There is a lot more control over this process, addressing various concerns that people may have when it comes to chocolate, such as sustainability, transparency and quality. They tend the be handcrafted, and at FoodStars, we’ve had chocolatiers grace us with their presence as they rent our kitchens around London. So what is this new process and why has it come to be so popular? That’s what this article covers.
According to the founders of Solkiki, Bob and Iris, this growth began around the turn of the century in the US; alongside a greater consumer interest in food provenance. Brontie Ansell, of Brontie & Co, has been observing the trend in the UK since 2010 and agrees that growing consumer consciousness and ethics is behind this growth stating that:
“There is a real push now to shop with smaller, ethical companies who have similar values to the consumer.”
Better accessibility, in terms of the equipment needed to make bean to bar chocolate, has impacted the growth of this area. Brontie shared how, until recently, things like stone grinders were not readily available at prices that home chocolate makers could afford. If you ask Solkiki, it looks like chocolate is going through an exciting time:
“Flavours and ways of chocolate making are being explored and discovered. Now, hobbyists can start making their own bean to bar chocolate with a relatively small investment and a lot of enthusiasm – many new chocolate makers are born this way.”
In fact, this is along the lines of how Brontie & Co started. Founder Brontie had free time on her hands after having her second child and, feeling like her career as a commercial and international lawyer left her without the life balance she wanted, Brontie got to experimenting. Brontie’s journey of discovery has led from the brand starting life as a purely raw chocolate company, to evolving further this year; as they made the decision to make a blended bar from a mixture of raw and roasted organic Peruvian Criollo cacao blended with carob. Solkiki themselves got started on their craft chocolate journey around 10 years ago when they struggled to find a great tasting vegan white chocolate bar and simultaneously discovered craft chocolate in the US – and now they have a multi award winning bean to bar chocolate range of their own.
If you’re not a chocolate fiend and have no idea what bean to bar chocolate is, don’t worry, both Solkiki and Brontie & Co agree that there’s still work to do to help consumers understand what’s so special about this kind of chocolate. If you ask Solkiki, it’s worth making the discovery because:
“Once you start eating craft chocolate you’ll probably never want to go back to the chocolate you were eating before!”
In case you didn’t know, bean to bar means chocolate is made from scratch using the cacao bean; whilst chocolatiers melt premade chocolate blocks (also known as couverture). Everything about craft chocolate is an education: and the makers themselves are continually learning. Fortunately, there is a wonderfully creative and knowledgeable community to support these craft chocolate makers.
With more chocolate makers, more specialised chocolate shops and more people tasting good craft chocolate, it looks like bean to bar will keep growing. Bob and Iris hope that in the future we’ll see more tree to bar chocolate makers at origin and Brontie is keen that we remember that whilst Cacao is difficult to work with, for many reasons, once it is here in the UK we can make really good chocolate (we’re known for it in fact).
This blog was brought to you by FoodStars, we provide commercial kitchens to hire in multiple locations in London – we have the ideal facilities for your food business – get in touch today to find out more.