Complete with everything you need to create the perfect cup, including an enamel mug, a whisk, a mix of warming winter spices, and our premium single origin cocoa powder. There’s also a recipe guide sheet included in your hamper, created by some of London’s top baristas in collaboration with us.
At this time of year, many people will be indulging a lot in foods and drinks. Fortunately, craft chocolate is a wonderful accompaniment to several drinks, so check out our selections of pairing gifts this Christmas.
The best way to discover and explore the world of craft chocolate is with our monthly subscription service. Each month, we carefully curate a selection of bars to help people uncover the hidden delights of great chocolate.
It’s not only something for you to enjoy, but you can gift 3, 6, or 12 months to someone you care about.
One of our mantras at Cocoa Runners is that “craft chocolate tastes better, it’s better for you, it’s better for the farmers, and it’s better for the planet“.
But it’s also a great way to explore the world. And this week we are delighted, and humbled, to be launching our first Ukrainian chocolate maker; ‘Stranger‘, the creation of Tetyana and Ruslan, and their children Anya and Matvii.
Stranger was started in late 2016 by accident. Tetyana and Ruslan are professional designers, and when they tried to help their daughter on a university project they ended up reverse engineering not just the design but the very way that chocolate is crafted. They realised that if they roasted their own cocoa beans, as opposed to merely repackaging cocoa mass with lots of sugar and additives, they could create chocolate that tasted far better. In their own words:
“Our mission is to make a quality and tasty product from cocoa beans. We want to enjoy the taste of cocoa beans from different parts of our Earth. It is important for us that slave and child labor is not used in the process of growing and harvesting cocoa. The conditions for growing and caring for cocoa are also very important to us”.
What’s really extraordinary is that Tetyana and Ruslan are continuing to craft (and even winning awards for) their bars in, to put it mildly, challenging circumstances! Somehow they are still able to import beans, run their small factory, and find a way to deliver their bars to us here in the UK, despite the appalling war in Ukraine.
They are also sending bars to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines, which adds poignancy to these bars.
We’ve managed to import a small number of their 70% 50g bars from four regions – and they provide a great way to delight in very different and distinct origins:
For every box you purchase, we’ll send £10 to a charity, supporting the Ukrainian people and army. The charity set up by well-known Ukrainian TV presenter and comedian, Serhiy Dmytrovych Prytula; The Prytula Foundation.
And I’d like to leave the final words to Stranger themselves:
“We really need peace in our country and victory. Wherever the war is, it is very scary. Now, in the times of development of the whole world, it is not clear how this could happen. Why are people and many children dying? It is very scary and very sad.
We are very grateful to everyone who supports Ukraine! Truth and goodness are on our side. And that’s the main thing. Let’s stand up and win!”
The ups-and-downs of international chocolate shipping have left us with some extra stock which is “short-dated”. Rather than let it go to waste, we’d like to offer it to you at a discounted rate.
Each of the boxes below contains a selection of these chocolates, but each box will be different! Our ‘luck dip boxes‘ have been really popular in the past, check out which one suits you below!
For a limited time, we’re offering these boxes at a 10% discount!
There’s nothing in dark chocolate which ‘goes off’. They don’t have a ‘use by’ date; but legally all chocolate bars (and pretty much any food) has to have an arbitrary ‘best before date’, and the bars in this box are past theirs.
As milk chocolate contains ingredients which can go off, they must include a ‘use by’ date; all the chocolate in this box is getting close to its use by date and so will need to be eaten quickly!
Use the coupon code LUCKYDIP10 at checkout!
We also have excess stock of this amazing dark milk chocolate from Luisa Abram. Made from wild cacao, grown on the banks of the Tocantins River in the Amazon, combined with rich creamy milk from Jersey cows, this bar is delicious and indulgent.
To help us avoid wasting any, we’re offering to you at a 30% discount (while stocks last).
What is associated with the colour orange (and increasingly black, purple, and even green), celebrated on 31st October, emerged out of “guising”, “mumming”, and “souling”, is second only to Christmas as a commercial holiday ($6bn spent in the US alone), and one where over 20% of millennials are now dressing up pets in costumes?
The answer is, of course; Halloween!
We know Halloween isn’t for a few weeks, but given there’s some Royal Mail strike action planned soon here in the UK, we encourage you to plan ahead; to make sure you order in plenty of time before the big spooky day!
Try as we might; it’s not easy to find links between craft chocolate and Halloween. Nonetheless, as a treat we’ve assembled two great gift boxes; sets of bars that are coloured, orange, black or purple.
One of the great aspects of working in craft chocolate is the people you come across. You meet chefs, engineers, environmental activists, racing car designers, opera singers and, this week, a US based team who moved from meditation, yoga and herb gardening to speciality coffee and craft chocolate.
Moka Origins is the creation of Jeff and Ishan. Unlike many craft chocolate makers who start off in their kitchen crafting bars, Jeff and Ishan started on a farm; and not even a cocoa farm. In their own words, Jeff and Ishan came to craft chocolate via what they modestly describe as “humanitarian community development”. Back in 2007, when they were working in Cameroon for the Himalayan Institute growing medicinal herbs, they realised that the key crops for Cameroon of cocoa and coffee had “completely broken” supply chains which was causing huge suffering and hardship for many farmers.
And over the next seven years Jeff and Ishan worked to solve a host of local challenges, while also acquiring more expertise in cocoa, chocolate and coffee, to address this “opportunity”. By 2014 they had assembled a group of cocoa farmers in the Kumbo region of Cameroon, and then in 2015 they were granted 1200 acres of land by the local Cameroonian government. They named the company Moka, a play on the term Mocha, meaning a combination of chocolate and cocoa, as they also grow, and roast, coffee.
And then the really hard work started. The land they’d been granted had no running water, no roads and no electricity. So in addition to finding the best spots to start growing cacao, the team had to build the infrastructure needed; including building wells, an internal road network, solar infrastructure, a river irrigation system and a tree nursery.
In 2017 to complete their ‘tree to bar’ loop, and to turbo charge both their coffee and chocolate initiatives, they built their own factory back at Honesdale, Pennsylvania. And if you are nearby do drop by and say “hi”! For more details, check out our ChocolaTourism page (and indeed, Jeff also runs trips to Africa to visit the farmers in person).
Their bars are also awesome in flavour. Sadly covid, combined with political and social uncertainties, mean that Moka has not been able to import any beans from Cameroon over the last few months; so we don’t (yet!) have their Cameroon beans/bars. But we do have the bars crafted from beans they source from Tanzania, where they work with the like-minded Simran and Brian of Kokoa Kamili. Similarly, please try Moka’s Ugandan bars that are crafted from Jeff Steinberg’s Latitude beans. And if you are subscriber, you should also have received their interpretation of the ABOCFA co-operative’s Ghanaian beans last month. See below for more details on all these bars.
With the Jubilee bank holiday weekend fast approaching, we are, once again, reminded of our collective ‘freedom’. Whatever you have planned, whether that is a street party, a BBQ (fingers crossed on the weather), or escaping the UK altogether, the shadow of covid means that we still feel grateful that these events are possible. And wherever, and however, you are celebrating may we recommend our Jubilee Commonwealth box for a tour of twelve different regions of the Commonwealth, our milk and dark Jubilee four bar box sets or our ‘make your own’ lollipop sets?
With this freedom in mind and following the success of our chocolate tasting evenings earlier in the year, we have lots of exciting in-person events planned throughout the summer. Chatting with people who share our enthusiasm for speciality products is really rewarding. It’s equally rewarding to bring together like-minded craft chocolate fans. As many of you know, one of our aims is to create a community of chocolate lovers, and hosting these events makes this aim a reality.
We’ve been long-term fans of ALSO Festival (partly due to their long tradition of wild swimming!): An incredible weekend of music, comedy, food, and, in their own words, ‘ideas’. Even though they successfully created a hybrid festival last year (hosting both virtual and in person events), we were thrilled that we can get out our tents and join the crowds from the 8th-10th of July.
And, for those of you who are fans of our resident whisky expert Rachel McCormack, she will also be exploring Scotland’s best whiskies. Appealing to the avid foodies, there’s countless brilliant events, including a sake tasting masterclass, a food illustration class, a foraging walk, a talk simply titled ‘tomatoes’, and many, many more – and that’s just the food side!
ALSO have been kind enough to give our customers an extra discount on ticket prices; use the exclusive code RUNWILD22 for 15% off their exciting events! Please secure your tickets HERE.
Next, we are back to 13 Charterhouse Square for some very special ‘maker-focused’ evenings. We take a lot of pride in our family of craft chocolate makers and, since many of them are international, it is a real pleasure to meet them. With this thought in mind, we thought it would be fantastic if you could also meet the world’s best chocolate makers, including Pedro Martins Araújo, the founder of Vinte Vinte.
We are in the final stages of launching Vinte Vinte, and to celebrate this partnership, we thought we’d host a very special tasting with Pedro himself; or, more accurately, a tasting party! This will involve tasting his incredible bars, understanding more about his craft chocolate journey, and raising a toast to the Vinte Vinte brand (a range of Taylor’s white, tawny and ruby ports will be provided). A very limited number of tickets can be purchased HERE and below.
We are keen to host more parties with our makers, particularly as many of you have long-established relationships with our brands. Since one of our most beloved makers, Chocolarder, are turning 10 this year, we thought another party was in order. Join us, alongside Chocolarder’s founder Mike Longman, on the 8th September to celebrate their fantastic achievements while tasting the results of a decade’s worth of hard work. And we’ve more maker specific events planned; see HERE for more details about the whole range.
Please see below to secure your tickets for these brilliant in person events. Tasting events at our 13 Charterhouse Square space are intimate evenings, and therefore we only have a limited amount of tickets; we’d recommend buying now to avoid disappointment.
Finally, we hope you have a glorious bank holiday weekend and a well-deserved rest. We look forward to meeting more of you this summer and these events.
If you are in the UK, you’ve still (JUST) got time to order some craft chocolate in time for delivery on Monday for Valentine’s Day. Please order by 11am Friday morning, and please choose tracked and 24 hour delivery services, and we’ll do our best to deliver in time for Monday. See HERE and below for a range of Valentine’s Day hampers, wine pairings, and also some digital vouchers if you want to be 110% sure your gift will arrive in time. Thanks Spencer P.S. If you want to brush up your Valentine’s and related craft chocolate knowledge, here are a few articles:
To welcome in 2022, we pulled together 22 chocolate related questions to test your knowledge and highlight the benefits of eating craft chocolate!
Here we run through the answers and provide some extra information to find out even more fascinating and shocking chocolate facts.
Q1: How many litres of water (or baths) are needed to grow, and make, a chocolate bar?
1-10 (a third of a bath)
11-100 (1-2 baths)
101-1000 (2-20 baths)
1000-2000 (20-40 baths)
Cocoa Trees require a LOT of water – hence the importance of rainforests. For more, please see here
Q2: What is the first recorded dish we have for preparing or cooking with chocolate?
Chocolate Ice cream
It’s Chocolate ice cream! There has been a recipe discovered which dates back to 1692, the same book that first recorded a recipe for tomato ketchup. Recipes for chocolate cakes don’t appear until around 100 years later, and brownies and digestives are even later – 1895 and 1926 to be exact. Mousse is also a pretty recent invention, created in the nineteenth century by the artist Toulouse Lautrec, a recipe which he called chocolate “mayonaise”.
See links below for more fascinating scoops on ice cream:
Q3. Which of the following countries grows both wine and cocoa?
That’s right, the land down under – where chocolate grows and it’s sure to thunder…
As well as having vast open vineyards for wine production – Australia’s dense rainforests are the perfect location for producing cacao!
France, Argentina and Chile all grow great wines; but they lack rainforests and hence no cocoa!
One Australian cacao producer is Daintree, established almost 10 years ago, they produce single-origin craft chocolate, based in North Queensland.
To read about Daintree’s origins take a look at this article
Another Australian Chocolate company goes by the name “The Smooth Chocolator” producing delicious single origin chocolate – see here for one of their bars (unfortunately it is currently out of stock, but join our waitlist to find out when it returns!)
Q4: In which country was Cadbury accused of using slave labour to obtain cacao in the late 1890s and early 1900s?
Sao Tome, the Portugese colony, used many slaves to grow cocoa in it’s height of cocoa cultivation in the 19th century.
To discover what was really happening behind the mask of Bournville read our blog post here
Q5. Which company produced the first commercial chocolate bar for eating?
Fry’s of Bristol in 1847 (followed by Cadbury’s a few years later).
See our Blog Post to discover a bit more about Fry and his role in chocolate’s history.
Q6. Which company was instrumental in the production of the first milk chocolate bar?
Henri Nestle was the pioneer of chocolate as most of us know it – as milk chocolate. The formula was first completed in Vevey, Switzerland, in 1875, after 7 years of trials. Chocolatier Daniel Peter, used Nestlé’s powdered milk to create the first milk chocolate bar, named the Gala!
Q7: Who is the odd one out for not being associated with chocolate gifts BEFORE (or on) Christmas?
St Nicholas (aka Santa Claus)
Santa Klaus / St Nicholas is associated with chocolate gold coins, given on Advent and Christmas day; Napoleon with Chocolate Yuletide Logs; Eisenhower with Chocolate Advent Calendars. Befana (from Italy) is associated with chocolate – but on Epiphany, i.e. after Christmas!
To explore more about chocolate gift giving, explore our blog posts:
Q8. Which of the following products does NOT contain butyric acid
Hershey’s milk chocolate
Your underarm and feet
A craft dark chocolate bar
Butyric acid is commonly found in cheese, a helpful addition in the fermenting process – this, however is not the case when it comes to good quality chocolate
To learn more about the role of Butyric acid in cheese – read here
Also, ever wondered why the popular american chocolate, Hershey’s, can evoke smells which resemble vomit to non-Americans – take a look at this article
Q9. Which of the following is not a taste sensed on your tongue?
There are five main flavours which can be detected by the taste buds on our tongue. Taste works when tiny hairs known as microvilli receive and send a message to our brains, relaying the flavours it detects. These flavours include Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Umami, each of which has a unique area of the tongue where it is most strongly detected:
Astringency, however, refers to the experience of slight aridity or roughness in the mouth when consuming (or just after) a particular food or drink. Often this might be used to describe the mouthfeel of wine or tea, and of course, chocolate.
Q10. How much sugar is there in a Tony’s milk chocolate bar?
0-15% (i.e. less than one teaspoon per 50g)
15-25% (i.e. about 1 teaspoon per 50g)
25-40% (i.e. about 1-2 teaspoons per 50g)
45-60% ie 2-4 teaspoons per 50g
e average amount of sugar (per 100g) in a Tony’s Chocolonely’s milk chocolate bar works out at 48.4g, compared to Pump Street (craft chocolate) where the average sugar content is 29.2g – that’s a huge difference.
Q11. What does chocolate grow on?
Chocolate grows in pods on the Theobrama Cacao Tree (and the pods emerge from flowers which emerge from the trunk of the tree before they are pollinated)
Q12. Which country claims credit for inventing couverture (couverture = “ready made chocolate” that many makers use to make bars, bonbons, etc. rather than using bars)
Oscar Callebault, a Belgian chocolate maker, claims credit for “inventing” couverture back in the 1930s. This made it far easier for chocolate companies, and all food companies, to use “ready made” chocolate couverture – and it’s only a small (but growing!) number of craft chocolate makers who work directly with cocoa farmers and their beans.
A good reason to enjoy a couple of squares of craft chocolate at the end of a meal
The discovery that even though you thought you were full, the sight, smell and taste of desert helps you find a second stomach
A reaction in your stomach that aids digestion
All of the above
Chocolate really can aid digestion and help you access your second stomach – seems too good to be true? Read more here
Q14. In which country do historians now believe was the first place chocolate was fermented, ground and made into a drink?
Archaeologists working in the highlands of Ecuador in the mid 2010s discovered evidence that the Mayo Chinchipe culture in Santa Ana-La Florida were fermenting and consuming cocoa 1,500 years before cocoa was domesticated in Mexico and Central America (note: Mexico can still lay claim to being the first place that cocoa was cultivated!)
Q15. What is LEAST important when buying a Craft Chocolate Bar?
Checking the ingredients
Knowing where the bar is crafted
Knowing the source of the beans down to the level of farm, co-operative, etc.
The colour of the packaging
If you want bars that burst with flavour, don’t contain loads of additives, protect the rainforest and ensure farmers are appropriately paid please check where, with what and how your bar is made… look beyond the branded packaging!
Q16. Where is NOT a good place to store your craft chocolate?
A CocoaRunners storage pouch in a kitchen cupboard
A tupperware box under your bed (or any other coolish and darkish place)
In your home safe
In your fridge
If there’s one place you certainly shouldn’t leave your chocolate – it’s the fridge! Keeping the chocolate in the fridge can lead to blooming…
For chocolate to melt in your mouth and release its aromas and flavours, it needs to be kept “in temper”. This means ensuring that it doesn’t undergo massive temperature swings – if you place a bar that has melted in the sun (or even been at room temperature) in a cold fridge, it may well go brittle and “out of temper”. For more, see our advice on how to store chocolate.
Q17. A chocolate bar from the deforested rainforest emits more than a serving of which other products?
All the above?
According to research published in Science, the worst type of chocolate (which, sadly, is almost all mass produced chocolate) emits more carbon per serving than the “average” of beef, lamb, farmed fish and prawns.
But cocoa can be farmed sustainably, and a lot of craft chocolate is actually carbon-positive (it takes carbon out of the atmosphere).
Q19. How much is the average MALE cocoa farmer’s daily wage in West Africa
US$3.00 (ie the living income benchmark)
According to research by Fairtrade International, cocoa farmers in West Africa (where most mass-produced chocolate sources cocoa) earn less than a dollar a day; less than a third of the ‘living income’ benchmark.
Q20. How much is the average FEMALE cocoa farmer’s daily wage in West Africa
US$3.00 (ie the living income benchmark)
Female cocoa farmers are working for as little as 23p a day. A staggering 60% of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa, and still workers are unfairly paid, this cocoa is exported and combined into the global chocolate industry, mass producing confectionery designed for supermarket shelves.
Q21. How many craft chocolate bars did we taste and evaluate at CocoaRunners in 2021?
The Cocoa Runners team have tried well over 1000 bars this year!
We taste the submissions from new makers, as well as new bars from existing makers. We review our existing library contents. And we participate in judging for competitions/awards.
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