Cocoa Retreat

Cocoa Retreat

The Background

Taking time out, having a moment of mindfulness and enjoying chocolate with consideration is the ethos behind Cocoa Retreat. A one-women company, who prioritises the quality and taste of cacao, whilst working to protect the fragile environment in which the cacao is grown. 

Cocoa Retreat is owned and run by Oenone Thomas. In her first career, she trained and worked as a journalist before moving on to become a child and adolescent counsellor. Behind the scenes, she has always had a love for chocolate, initially this was  a hobby for finding new and wonderful chocolate and a joy for eating it. Slowly, she developed the knowhow for producing small batch chocolate and has since been perfecting her craft. 

Getting the chance to chat to people at her local farmers market and to introduce them to the world of craft chocolate is part of why Oenone loves making her chocolate – she says “I get a real thrill from taking people who have never experienced craft chocolate on a bean to bar tasting journey. There are so many wonderful cocoa origins to enjoy!”.

Chocolate Making 

Oenone relies on her incredible tasting palette and sense of smell to produce the perfect recipe for her bars. With each new batch of beans, she carries out the same experiment, breathing in the aromas whilsts she roasts until she can identify the volatiles seeping into the air. This precision roasting is what gives her bars their wonderful unique profiles and incredible depth. 

Protecting the environment and reducing wastage as much as possible is key to Oenone. In keeping with this, she has developed minimalist packaging for her chocolates, a simple recyclable and compostable film wrapper, which also symbolises the transparency which she aims to uphold with her bars – being clear about where her beans are sourced from. 

Additionally, the majority of her inclusion ingredients are locally sourced, using Kentish cobnuts to produce her notoriously irresistible Gianduja bar and walnuts to add to her amazing dark milk chocoalate.

What’s Next?

A relatively young company, starting up in 2021, Oenone is hoping to scale up her production and reach a wider audience in the next  few years, whilst keeping hold of the hands on, bespoke aspect of her production process. She is also aiming to develop her own Cocoa Retreat mould to make her bars even more unique – that’s definitely one we’ll be keeping an eye on! 

Finally, we asked Oenone what she was most proud of to date:

“I am delighted to have got to this point – to have realised my ambition to make delicious chocolate from the beautiful beans that arrive on my doorstep from farmers across the world with their generations of skill and experience, and that others have responded to what I am doing so positively and with such enthusiasm.”

Chatting with Oenone 

We had the pleasure of chatting with Oenone about her craft chocolate journey, covering everything from the alchemy of chocolate making to where she forages her ingredients. Please click below to listen to our conversation.

Cocoa Retreat In The Chocolate Library