We’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market UK to bring you an in-store monthly Craft Chocolate Focus, where every month we’ll be showcasing a new theme.
Having kicked off the New Year with 100% chocolate, for the month of February we’ll be taking a slightly sweeter and fruitier turn, focusing our attention on MIA chocolate. The Craft Chocolate Focus on MIA has been finely tuned with Valentine’s Day and Fairtrade Fortnight on the horizon.
MIA stands for ‘Made in Africa’, an acronym that neatly sums up everything this maker stands for. The team behind MIA believes that there is truly exceptional food and drink being crafted in Africa from locally sourced ingredients.
Madagascar has a rich heritage of cacao growing, and an ever increasing number of chocolate makers are choosing to make chocolate on the island too.
When it comes to MIA’s ethical supply chain credentials, this chocolate maker partners with Proudly Made in Africa. The MIA factory and cocoa farmer relationships are audited according to the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, which is one of the highest audit standards globally used by various fair trade schemes.
For every sale of MIA chocolate, it contributes to MIA’s ‘1 for Change’ programme. This programme is MIA’s commitment to investing 1% of its sales towards projects in Africa to help save local endangered species or to improve a community’s livelihoods.
With “Fairtrade Fortnight” fast approaching, you may notice that there is a vast number of ‘ethically-traded’ or ‘direct-trade’ products on the market that do not carry the Fairtrade certification. And at Cocoa Runners, we’re very often asked whether our chocolate is “Faitrade”. However, the answer is a little more complicated than you might expect. Very few of our craft chocolate makers are Fairtrade-certified, yet all are committed to a ‘fair’ way of making chocolate and many in fact go above and beyond the guidelines of Fairtrade.
When it comes to fair-trade labels, Brett, the co-founder of MIA, believes that like in any industry, competition is good for everyone involved: fair trade labels, ethical brands and consumers. Brett continues: “in part because competition keeps everyone on their toes and in a state of constant improvement, but also because the concept ‘fair’ can take varying forms depending on the industry and the company’s focus.”
MIA’s brand mission is to produce high-quality and ethical products from start to finish in Africa. This means paying cocoa farmers fairly for quality beans as well as partnering with a local and entrepreneurial chocolate-making team to make MIA bars. Part of MIA’s choice for this equally challenging and rewarding business model was its passion for the people and continent of Africa.
Beyond its ethical stance, MIA chocolate is simply delicious. Whilst we love the chocolate by itself, naturally, we also recommend using the chocolate for flavour pairings or to cook with. Why not pair the 100% bar with some whisky or tannic red wine, or cook up some fruity, fudgy brownies with MIA’s 75% Madagascan chocolate?
Dates to look out for to sample MIA chocolate in February in-store are:
2nd Feb at 16.00-19.00
5th Feb at 12.00-15.00
11th Feb at 12.00-15.00
14th Feb at 16.00-19.00
3rd Feb at 15.00-18.00
9th Feb at 16.00-19.00
3rd Feb at 11.00-14.00
9th Feb at 12.00-16.00
9th Feb at 12.00-15.00
7th Feb at 12.00-15.00
10th Feb at 15.00-18.00
2nd Feb at 12.00-15.00
10th Feb at 11.001-14.00
You can also join us for a very special Chocolate & Wine Masterclass at Whole Foods Market where we’ll be showcasing and pairing a few of the MIA chocolate flavours. Tickets available here.
We’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market UK to bring you an in-store monthly Craft Chocolate Focus. Every month we’ll be showcasing a new theme, and what better way to bring in the New Year than with 100% pure cocoa chocolate with no added sugar.
Yep, that’s right, for the month of January we’re dialling up the intensity and focusing our attention on 100% cacao bars. 100% cacao bars are made using nothing but cocoa beans. They are intense, powerful and they’re an excellent way to experience the pure taste of the cocoa bean.
With no added sugar, flavourings or vegetable fats, the only ingredient is cocoa mass, cocoa butter and the natural sugar of cocoa (cocoa after all is a fruit, so it contains 2-5% sugar).
If you’re new to 100% cacao, don’t be put off by the idea that it will be astringent and bitter. It’s true that the flavours can be intense but 100% cacao bars are generally not nearly as astringent and mouth puckering as you might expect.
Much of the mouth-puckering bitterness and astringency that you find in mass produced high percentage dark chocolate is down to how the beans are crushed, pressed and even treated in chemical solutions as they rush to make the maximum amount of chocolate in as little time as possible. On the other end of the spectrum you can find our wonderful craft chocolate makers, who take their time to coax out the awesome flavours of their fine flavour cocoa beans with careful grinding, concheing and blending.
If you head to any Whole Foods Market UK branch (Kensington, Piccadilly, Richmond, Stoke Newington, Camden, Clapham Junction and Fulham), you’ll find our craft chocolate makers’ 100% bars centre-stage of the chocolate aisle.
Dates to look out for to sample the 100% chocolate in-store at Whole Foods Market include Wednesday 16th Jan. 4-7pm in the Piccadilly store and Friday 18th 12-3pm in the Camden store. We had previously held our demos on the 8th January at Kensington and 11th at Clapham Junction.
An absolute must-try for the 100% lovers. Menakao’s bar packs quite the punch in comparison to the more mellow 100% bars of Oialla and Pump Street. This award winning dark bar is an intense 100% Madagascan dark chocolate.
Unwrap the chocolate and you are instantly hit by a strong fruity aroma. Delicious and inviting as this may be, don’t be fooled into breaking off a great chunk as this chocolate has a serious intensity! The initial berries have a citrus edge, leading to a powerful and sharp finish. A roasted note is mixed with the fruits, which reminds us a little of strong filter coffee.
The baristas at Climpson’s Coffee often use this 100% for “palate training” and find it ideal for baking.
This 100% Criollo bar is both an exceptional and rare example of terroir. In 2018, these Åkesson’s Criollo beans were awarded Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) status.
Wonderful berry notes burst forth from this smooth textured yet incredibly intense chocolate. This is accompanied by a natural sweetness that you might not expect to find in a bar with such a high percentage of cacao, complementing the citrusy tartness.
Crafted from beans from Hacienda Limon plantation of the Los Rios province in Ecuador. Possessing an intense cocoa flavour, this bar has a low acidity and earthy taste thanks to its long conch yields. It’s buttery and rich, which makes it ideal for baking.
This bar is crafted exclusively from cacao from the Alto Beni region of Bolivia. Bolivian cacao is known for its honey like profile, and these notes are certainly present in this bar. It has a remarkably even melt, and a richness derived from the flavour of the beans and the rich, fudgey texture of the bar.
The bar itself is delicate to hold, and the packaging has a Scandinavian minimalism that many admire as being simply “sophisticated”.
Rich and buttery, crafted from cacao of Madagascar. It’s smooth, buttery and embodies a hefty roasted profile, the signature style of French chocolate maker Pralus.
MIA stands for ‘Made in Africa’, an acronym that neatly sums up everything this maker stands for. The bar has many of the jammy notes that are so typical of Madagascan cacao, with a slightly roasted finish. Also, do keep an out for our February Craft Chocolate Focus of MIA at Whole Foods.
We were delighted to welcome Original Bean’s first ever 100% bar into our Library mid 2018. This is an intense 100% dark chocolate with a very pleasant and perfectly smooth melt. There is a sherbet like sweetness amongst the Peruvian cacao, and the melt and finish of this bar is clean and bright.
This chocolate had been crafted in Scotland, with Ali and Friederike working carefully to reduce the acidity of these cocoa beans from Belize. The touch of added cocoa butter yields a smooth melt. The flavour of this 100% is just fantastic and highly approachable.