Here at On The Table, we’re all about bringing you the best suppliers, the best tastes, and some of the best producers disrupting the food industry. This month we want to share some of the best chocolate in the UK from the independent chocolate makers who are putting provenance and flavour at the heart of their products.
Chocolate in the UKThere are 35,000 tons of chocolate bars produced in the UK every year. That’s about three bars per week for every UK resident. Every year, new chocolate producers launch looking to take a bite out of our £4billion chocolate industry.
The earliest chocolate diet was the Mayans in 350 BC. One run the UK, chocolate houses would run along London’s Fleet Street, between St Paul’s Cathedral and The Old Bailey. Serving the church, politicians, lawyers and business men, this street quickly formed the backbone of British journalism, reporting on the gossip heard in this cluster of chocolate house.
Our love of chocolate has not faltered since those times and while we can pick up a bar of the sweet stuff in most shops, a lot of what we eat today is more sugar and fats than it is cocoa.
In fact, lots of the big brand chocolate is made with palm oil, a truly unsustainable ingredient. And we think that once you taste properly crafted chocolate, you’ll never go back.
Best Chocolate Producers in the UKWe want to share some of our favourite (and we think best) chocolate producers in the UK. These are the artists creating rich and flavoursome chocolate. They are thinking about provenance and taste when creating their products.
This is chocolate that is worth hunting down and eating slowly to savour.
Pump Street Chocolate
Originally starting life as a bakery, Pump Street are now creating some of the tastiest chocolate you can buy. From Orford on the Sussex Coast, this father and daughter team are self-taught and high-skilled in sourcing the best ingredients.
Their chocolate is created in small batches, using single origins beans that are fermented and dried at source. Pump Street then roast, grind and conch the beans to create the high-quality chocolate you’ll find in their shop.
Love and care go into each of these bars, and they play with flavour. Hinting to their bakery origins, you’ll find both sourdough and sea salt and rye crumb options.
Coco is more than a chocolatier. They describe themselves as a canvas for artisans and artists. You will know if you’ve seen their bars in your local deli as the design-fronted bars stand out from everything else on the shelf. Coco work with artists and musicians to create visually impressive bars.
Impact is important to Coco, with their work flooded back into Colombia, where they source their beans. Coco are eager to share the good work they do along the whole supply chain which helps create a deliciously conscious brand.
Coco also work on their distinctive flavours including Haggis Spice, Earl Grey Tea, Cold Brew Coffee. They also collaborate with unlikely businesses to create limited edition flavours.
You can see the style and attention to detail throughout all steps of their process. And the outcome is a beautiful bar of chocolate worth all of the effort.
Dark sugar was founded by Nyanga and her partner Paul, at Spitalfields Market. With a selection of truffles, Nyanga soon took her produce to Borough Market before opening her first store on Brick Lane in 2013.
Nyanga brings the authentic taste of Ghanaian cocoa beans to her corner of London and is personally attached to the whole supply journey from her family farm to East London. A true bean to bar story.
From the bright red velvet pearl truffles to chocolate coated mango slices, and the stunning Irish Kiss Pipette, Dark Sugars is worth a pilgrimage (or online order) for some truly sensational chocolate like you won’t find elsewhere.
The Chocolate DetectiveThe superbly named Chocolate Detective is the colourful pseudonym of Chantal Coady OBE, founder of Rococo Chocolates. The Chocolate Detective now champions the work of The Grenada Chocolate Company and farm to bar chocolate production.
Like a real life Willy Wonka (and happily illustrated by Quentin Blake), The Chocolate Detective has an array of salted caramel and praline birds eggs that put the better-known miniature ones to shame. The Single-Origin bars come in delightful flavours like Andean Fruits, Mango and Jipijapa Coffee. And the wonderfully named Broken Chocolate makes you feel like you’re not really eating calories - a bit like eating the first broken biscuit in the packet.
Bean to Bar
Each of these four suppliers champion flavour but also bean to bar supply chains that mean you know where your chocolate comes from. Plus, for the money you spend on the chocolate, the profits are going back into the communities growing the cocoa. Which makes tasting chocolate all the better.
Each of these suppliers works without palm oil so you know that what you eat is sustainable (and tastes far better).
Plus, these chocolate producers are challenging what is possible with flavour combinations. Looking for inspiration from where they source their beans, creating challenging collaborations or pushing what’s possible - we could happily eat any of these chocolate suppliers (and do so far too often).
Buy The Chocolate Detective here
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