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angelica ottoway

Father’s Day Competition

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

To help you celebrate Father’s day this year, we are excited to announce a special Father’s Day giveaway for you. Together with a few of our favourite small businesses, we have created the ultimate Father’s Day gift bundle for you to win.*

Included in this prize are host of wonderful goodies to delight your dad.

 

Quiet Rebbellion SocksQuiet Rebellion Socks

First for the fun yet fashion conscious father, we’ve three pairs brushed cotton socks from Quiet Rebellion. Quiet Rebellion puts colour back into the soles of office workers around the world! Office attire needs to look professional but this often feels dull. Quiet Rebellion injects fun into your weekdays through socks hidden patterns so you can still look serious yet feel mischievous!

Pushkin Press BooksPushkin Press Books

If your dad’s a bit of a bookworm, he will love Pushkin Press’ beautifully bound books. Pushkin Press publishes the world’s best stories, to be read and read again, and they’ve got the ultimate reads for any dad this Father’s Day. From Sand, a darkly sophisticated literary thriller from a star of the German literary scene, Clinch, a visceral, compulsive read about a boxer on the run that packs a punch and will leave you reeling, to 1917, a collection of passionate voices from the Russian Revolution and finally, Stefan Zweig’s exquisite Montaigne, an account of the French philosopher’s life which asks how we ought to think, and how to live.

Honest Brew BeerHonest Brew Beer

And since Father’s Day is a celebration, it seemed only right to add in a tipple or twelve. In this prize we’ve also included Honest Brew’s 12 Beer Mixed Case for Father’s Day. This super gift box includes a selection of the world’s finest, freshest and most delicious craft beers, an official HonestBrew glass, an extremely handy bottle opener, and an exclusive Father’s Day card designed by London-based illustrator HATCH. No nonsense, no naff novelty, just great beer and gifts.

 

Cocoa Runners HamperCocoa Runners Hamper

Of course, no Cocoa Runners giveaway would be complete without chocolate! The lucky competition winner will also receive a Cocoa Runners Chocolate Lover’s Hamper. The wooden hamper is bursting with the finest artisan milk and dark chocolate bars. What more could your dad ask for?

 

 

How To Enter

In order to enter our giveaway, simply click on the button and fill out the form. We will contact the winner on Tuesday 13 June so make sure you check your emails. Good luck!

 

ENTER NOW

 

*Terms & Conditions apply. One entry per person. You must be 18 or over to enter. Prizes can be sent to UK addresses only. Entry closes at midnight Monday 12 June and a winner will be notified by email before 10am on Tuesday. The winner will have 24hours to contact us or we will redraw a new winner on Thursday. By entering, you are agreeing to receive marketing materials from all companies, but are welcome to opt out of mailing list at any time.

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Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting With Lucocoa

By | Tastings, The World of Chocolate, Uncategorized | One Comment

On Tuesday 16th May we hosted our monthly Chocolate Tasting Evening at Prufrock Coffee. This time we did something a little different. Lizzie from Cocoa Runners invited Ama of Lucocoa to share the stage with her and talk about her experiences of chocolate making.

Among the guests was Terese Weiss. Terese is as keen about bean-to-bar chocolate as we are and is currently on the Teacher Training Programme at the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Training (IICCT). If you’ve taken one of the IICCT’s courses in the UK you might just have had the good fortune to have been taught by Terese.

After attending the event, Terese was kind enough to write an account the evening, which we are delighted to share with you below.

A ‘Hakuna Lucocoa matata’ kind of chocolate event

An evening of learning, tasting and a meeting a chocolate maker – 16 May 2017

When was the last time you met the maker and personality behind a product you eat pretty much daily?  Living in a big town like London, that in itself is rather uncommon, even in a time when specialty and craft are increasingly celebrated.  That is what made the most recent Cocoa Runners’ ‘meet the maker’ event so enticing and intimate: to hear and taste the story with the maker – in this case Lucocoa, aka team Ama and Andy.

To make an unusual start, let me tell you that as a professional interpreter, this would be my favourite kind of assignment.  What’s there not to like?  A relaxing yet informative evening with guided tastings of 14 quality chocolates and peppered with entertaining titbits.  (Who by the way knew that the UK chocolate market is bigger that the book and music industry combined!). But why is that relevant to interpreting – and how is that the reason the Cocoa Runners’ gig is one to keep looking out for.  Well, hear me out.

Interpreters are often regarded as semi androids, a hidden button somewhere is switched on, A language goes in, B language comes out.  Not quite so.  Language is just the top of the iceberg.  We look below and listen for meaning, intention and delivery – how well they align… or not.  I have interpreted many good and not so good presentations, so I can tell you: Cocoa Runners’ event was aligned, like a string of cocoa beans.  They speak fluent chocolate, no interpretation needed.

The evening was mainly hosted by Cocoa Runners’ staff Lizzie who did a deft job in giving sizable insight into the world of chocolate.  Although we covered a lot, (beyond the tasting itself – recognising quality, ingredients, the surge of the craft bar, how it is made and personal stories about every sample and maker, the size, shape and make up of the industry as a whole – and much more), I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  And that on a hot Tuesday evening after a long day’s work.  It takes a skilled and knowledgeable presenter to do that – and probably some of the most visual and entertaining slides I have long seen, which kept the evening light and engaging.  Who would have thought that a picture of chicken nuggets or a baby donkey could perfectly exemplify just about anything chocolate.  If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself!

Lizzie was seconded by Ama in a gentle duet, partly to hear Lucocoa’s story, partly to get a maker’s perspective.  If you don’t know Lucocoa, they are London’s first bean-to-bar maker, having set up in 2014.  She and Andy still juggle day jobs and have turned their spare room into a small chocolate factory, (doesn’t that sound like pure bliss), although plans to upscale elsewhere are on the horizon.  Ama’s background as a nutritionalist and the couple’s discovery of the Amazonian ‘super food’ lucuma fruit, (looks like a cross between a tennis ball and a granny smith) gave birth to Lucocoa’s name and signature ingredients: coconut sugar and lucuma powder.

There was something quite disarming in Ama’s ‘down to earth-ness’ and admittance of the teething problems she and Andy went through as new kids on the chocolate block.  Like how they leaned the hard way to navigate import and export, having travelled and found the beans they wanted to buy from a local woman in Belize and thinking it would just be a small matter of shipping them back to the UK.

We tried 4 of Lucocoa’s bars from Belize, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala showing us a fan of different flavours – and a delicious ‘natural blonde’ white bar.  However, for Ama it seemed more important to tell the story behind the bars, about the 3 different women, (Minni, Idelsa and Yasmira), who grow the beans, how they met and their relationship.  Aptly, the range is called ‘celebrating our women farmers’.  The direct trade and connection is, as summarised by Lizzie, exactly ‘what we love about craft chocolate’ namely ‘that you get really close to the individual farmer’.  The emerging availability of beans from these and other unique origin growers is also what is making the craft market and Cocoa Runners’ library boom these last few years – and what you get a select taste of at their events.

Listening to Lizzie and Ama it mostly felt like a couple of friends were sitting me down and telling me about their jobs and area of expertise.  There was no lecturing, no sleek marketing spiel, just nice people and a good atmosphere, with a pile of fine chocolate samples.  Indeed, what is there not to like?!

 

You can find out more about Lucocoa’s chocolate here.

You can find out more about the ICCTT here.

Kokoa Kamili

Kokoa Kamili: Coaxing the Best from Tanzanian Cacao

By | The World of Chocolate | No Comments

Recently we’ve seen a number of great bars using beans from Tanzania. In the last couple of months alone, both Omnom and Damson have released two new bars made with beans from the African nation. Both makers are using beans sourced from Kokoa Kamili.

Based in the Kilombero Valley of Tanzania, Kokoa Kamili are dedicated to helping local farmers and craft chocolate makers worldwide get the best from Tanzanian beans. It buys wet beans directly from farmers and then dries and ferments them at its own specially built facility in the valley. Once fermented it supplies these to makers who will coax the full flavour from the beans and transform them into chocolate that showcases the quality of Tanzanian cacao.

We spoke to Simran, co-founder of Kokoa Kamili, to find out more about the company.

  1. What’s your background? How did you get into cacao (and end up in Tanzania)?

Both Brian and myself had been working in international development. I was initially working in Lesotho in southern Africa. Brian started out as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania before he went to get his MBA, worked in management consulting and then found himself back in Tanzania. After my time in Lesotho I joined an NGO in Tanzania where I was working on researching the history of cocoa in the country and writing the Ministry of Agriculture’s Cocoa Development Strategy. Coincidentally Brian was leaving the same NGO where he had been managing a large team working with milling businesses throughout Tanzania helping them improve their processes and encouraging them to fortify their flour.

Kokoa KamiliOver the course of my work, I saw what I perceived to be an opportunity, we have really interesting genetics in Tanzania, a great terroir, but we were seeing really poor fermentation and drying. Farmers had no incentive to improve their operations – – the work of fermenting and drying can be a laborious and long process. Existing buyers were large commodity companies with little interest in high-quality cocoa. Concurrently the craft chocolate scene was growing rapidly, with chocolate makers looking for new, exciting origins able to produce consistent, high quality cocoa.

I discussed this perceived market gap with Brian (who had previously explored doing something similar in coffee) and he agreed that it was something worth looking at. Brian ran the numbers to see if it could make sense and we began exploring the cocoa growing areas of Tanzania to pinpoint the best place for us to set up shop.

  1. Can you tell us a little more about the cocoa landscape of Tanzania?

Cocoa was first introduced to Tanzania in the 1880s while Tanganyika (as it was then known) was under German rule. It was initially grown as a plantation crop in the north of the country although few records remain. There have likely been several reintroductions of the crop to Tanzania over the past hundred years, with the main growing area (Kyela – in the south of the country) being established in the 1960s. We estimate that between 8,000-10,000MT of cocoa are produced in Tanzania annually. There are four main buyers in the country, all large trading companies. Kokoa Kamili operates in the Kilombero Valley – a geographically distinct area compared to Kyela, with a much lower production.

  1. You mentioned you worked with a number of smallholder farmers, how did you first reach out them? And how do you managed the relationship with so many different farmers?

Given our background in international development, we’ve both spent a fair bit of time in rural villages, especially given Brian’s Peace Corps experience. We would Kokoa Kamilistart with the village leaders, explain what we were thinking about, ask if they thought it would be feasible, would it be something the village would be interest in supporting, would it be beneficial to the village, etc. etc. When we began our research it was a lot of long conversations under mango trees getting an understanding of what would and wouldn’t work for the farmers and explaining our business model of buying ‘wet’ cocoa rather than dry.

We now work with ~2,500 farmers – up from around 1,000 at the end of our first year (although 80% of our volume comes from just 23% of our farmers). Our growth in sourcing is simple. We make it more attractive to farmers to sell to us, we pay more, we collect from farmers, provide agricultural training services, we offer transparent pricing and only buy directly (as opposed to using middlemen/agents).

 

  1. Can you tell us a bit more about you operation? How many of you are there? Do you build all of your equipment (e.g fermentation boxes yourselves)?

At our peak we have about 30 staff. All of our processing equipment we built in the village that we work in using locally available materials. However, the monitoring equipment (e.g. thermometers, moisture meters) we source internationally.

  1. Who was your first buyer and how did you find them?

Our very first sale was an air freight shipment to Chocolate Naive in Lithuania – I’d met them at the London Salon du Chocolat in 2013 and we’ve been good friends since. We were excited to host them as our first visitors last year! Our first large buyer was Mast. Honestly, we met them by cold-calling them and showing up at their factory in Brooklyn. They were nice enough to take the time to meet with us and were interested in learning about what we were doing and have been a great partner to work with ever since.Kokoa Kamili

  1. Can you explain a bit more about fermentation and how it works, you mentioned 3 & 5 tier – can you explain this a little? (Obviously not prying for secrets, jut an overview of the process)

Our typical method of fermenting is a three tier, six day ferment. However, we’re constantly running experiments to tweak with our protocols to ensure we can get the very best out of our beans. We just put together our first five tier array and are going to be running a whole host of experiments on them in the coming season!

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