Sometimes, what you need is a ‘little bit of chocolate’. Sometimes, this just isn’t enough. For when you need dazzle and indulge our selection of luxury hampers is any chocoholic’s dream.
But it’s not just chocolate – we have collaborated with wine merchants to the Queen, Corney & Barrow to create two deluxe collections of chocolate and wine pairings. Over the course of several tastings we came up with six chocolate and wine combinations. Branching out from the usual ‘the sweeter the better’ rule of wine and chocolate matching, we have paired everything from Blanxart’s rich dark Dominican republic to Omnom’s Dirty Blonde white chocolate with bottle ranging from New World reds to Vinsanto.
With each match we weren’t simply looking for things that went well together, but for extraordinary pairings. While this took some time, we are delighted with the result – together each bar and bottle are transformed as the chocolate brings out new dimensions in the wine and vice versa.
With these gifts, you can widen your foodie horizon’s with a wine and chocolate hamper, or simply fulfill your chocoholic fantasies..
A spectacular collection for the true foodie connoisseur. Two reds, a white and a dessert wine have been expertly matched with two dark, a milk and a white chocolate. Presented in a sumptuous Corney & Barrow gift box this hamper can only be described as the ultimate chocolate and wine indulgence.
Our most decadent chocolate collection to date. Nestled inside our wooden hamper you will find the best the world of craft chocolate has to offer. As well as bars and chocolate tea the hamper also includes a box of our Craft Chocolate Coated Ginger, made exclusively for Cocoa Runners.
Two sophisticated reds and two beautiful dark bars come together in this luxurious collection. Beautifully packaged in a Corney & Barrow gift box this selection is completely irresistible. The perfect gift for those who prefer the darker side…
With almost 500 hundred bars (and counting) in our Chocolate Library, choosing the right bars can be a challenge.
To help you discover something new and delicious we have collaborated with a host of cooks, foodies and wine buffs who have taken on the role of ‘chocolate DJ’.
These DJs (or curators) have tasted their way through the library and selected some of the bars they loved.
From wine to tea to philosophy to professional chocolate lovers – we have ‘chocolate DJs’ from many walks of life, all of with very different (but still excellent) tastes in chocolate. You can find the full list on our Guest Curated page.
Today we want to introduce three of our latest DJs. We are delighted (not to mention flattered) that they were able to take time out of their busy schedules to taste and talk about chocolate with us.
Anna Jones is a cook, food writer and stylist. Her critically acclaimed second book ‘A Modern Way to Cook’ was released earlier this year. For her box, Anna has not only chosen four of her favourite bars but has provided her own tasting notes to guide you through.
Anna has put her years of experience and refined palate to good use here. Her selection of four delicious bars from Pump Street, Forever Cacao, Mast Brothers and TCHO give you a taste of brilliant bars from both sides of the Atlantic.
Food stylist and writer, Rosie Birkett’s first cook book ‘A Lot On Her Plate’ was released earlier this year. Although she mainly thinks of herself as a ‘savoury person’, she says ‘I do get really excited about a good bar of chocolate’. For her collection Rosie has chosen five very good bars from our Chocolate Library.
Rosie’s box is a well-traveled collection, bursting with unique bars from Marou, Pump Street, Pitch Dark, Omnom and Original Beans.
After traveling the world as a model, Ruth switched to wine and launched Wine Car Boot. This fun consumer tasting and market encourages people to ‘taste their way out of the supermarket’. Ruth couldn’t decide on just a few bars, so instead she has curated two boxes – a small and a large.
As Ruth says ‘Taste, quality and beautifully packaged pleasure isn’t limited to wine’ So why limit yourself to just one box?
The days are getting shorter and nights colder, which can only mean one thing: Christmas is coming.
No seasonal celebration is complete without a little chocolate indulgence. We have put together a selection of delicious craft chocolate gifts that won’t fail to entrance and delight.
Whether you are looking for a gift for a loved, something to share with friends and family or a little something for yourself, we have something for you.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a selection of fantastic chocolate to share with loved ones after a hearty festive feast. We’ve selected five fabulous bars from around the world, each of which embodies the flavours of the season. This selection of milk and dark is sure to please any chocolate lover.
Everyone likes to open something sweet and delicious on Christmas morning. We’ve selected a milk and a dark bar and carefully wrapped them for you in a stylish mini gift sleeve. TCHO’s SeriousMilk Cacao and Cacaosuyo’s Piura Select burst forth with vibrant flavours.
Our Deluxe Chocolate Hamper is our most decadent collection ever. Inside this beautiful wooden hamper, you’ll find the very best the world of bean to bar chocolate has to offer.
Our brand new collaboration with craft chocolate maker Jordi’s. Walnuts, coffee beans, cocoa beans and crystallised ginger, are enrobed in a generous coating of dark chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder. These delicious treats make an elegant dinner party gift, if you can bear to share them…
We are delighted to introduce the Craft Chocolate Collection. Commissioned by Cocoa Runners, and hand crafted by artisan chocolate maker Jordi’s, this collection just goes to show that combining the finest ingredients can deliver a truly exceptional experience.
We bring you walnuts, coffee beans, cocoa beans and crystallised ginger, wrapped in rich dark chocolate. Each piece is enrobed in a generous coating of top quality craft chocolate by hand. This chocolate is a blend of the finest Madagascan and Colombian cacao.
The Madagascan cacao is sourced directly from world renowned cacao farmer Bertil Akesson. Over the past decade, Akesson has worked to break the cacao monopoly that blocked the direct trade of cocoa beans from Madagascar. He now sells his beans to chocolate makers of all sizes around the globe. In 2015, his Madagascan cacao has earned recognition at both the International Chocolate Awards and the Academy of Chocolate Awards. The signature flavour of Madagascan cacao is that of ripe, jammy berries. Occasionally, Madagascan cacao also has a certain sharp, tart finish, but it is generally considered to be one of the lighter cacaos.
It is widely known that Colombia is well known for its coffee beans. Colombian coffee often has a fruity base, with top notes of spiced cocoa. Its caramel sweetness and nutty undertones are beloved by coffee lovers the world over. What is perhaps less widely known is that Colombia also produces some wonderful cacao. However this is a growing venture, with over 35,000 farmers now earning their living on cocoa production.
The Colombian cocoa in the coating for our Craft Chocolate Collection hails from the deep valleys of the southwest province of Huila. This province was awarded the top prize in Colombia’s first National Cocao Contest. Its cocoa boasts an exotic quality, with a mild aroma and a fruity flavour. It has a remarkable intensity, which makes it the perfect counterpoint for the light, berry like notes of Akesson’s Madagascan cacao.
At 65% cacao content, it is a wonderfully well balanced blended craft chocolate; bold enough to stand up to the flavours of the fillings, yet not to intense so as to overpower them. The finishing touch is a light dusting of cacao powder, added to ensure an intensely rich experience, from the very first bite.
Made exclusively for you in the Czech Republic by artisan maker Jordi’s, these delicacies are presented in an elegant chocolate brown drum. We hope you’ll agree that they make a delicious gift that’s almost too good to share…
An original twist on the classic chocolate coated coffee bean. Whole Madagascan cocoa beans are coated in Jordi’s signature dark chocolate blend and dusted with a fine layer of cocoa powder. An intense chocolaty experience with a delicious crunch from the fruity beans.
Beneath the powdered surface are bite-sized chunks of crystallised ginger. The smooth and sweet dark chocolate perfectly balances the spicy intensity of the Chinese ginger. These warming treats are the perfect partner for a hot mug of cocoa tea.
Locally sourced Czech walnuts are coated in Jordi’s smooth dark chocolate. The earthy crunch of the walnuts acts as a perfect foil to the sweetness of the chocolate. As the walnuts crumble, they mix with the rich chocolate in an almost irresistible combination.
This classic combination is raised to new heights by the finest quality ingredients. Brazilian and Colombian coffee beans have been roasted by a local Czech roasters according to Jordi’s own recipe. The mellow dark chocolate gives way to an intense coffee flavour.
There are many parallels between great chocolate and great wine. For both you need great ingredients – the finest grapes or the finest beans. For both, you need craftsmanship and time. The end result are tastes and sensations that inspire, enthuse and tantalize.
From the start of Cocoa Runners we’ve been keen to learn from the wine industry. We’ve held joint tastings (and indeed were doing one at Bath with Wine Gang today and another with Decanter next weekend). We’ve invited wine luminaries to “curate” a selection of their favourite bars – most recently Joanna Simon and Decanter Magazine, and we have more exciting collaborations to come.
And with Corney and Barrow we’ve now taken this one step further. With the support of Rebecca Palmer and her buying team we’ve matched six wines to six chocolates in two unique collections: a four bar, four bottle hamper and a two bar, two bottle hamper. Creating these collections was a real joy, not least as – to quote Rebecca – “more often than not the best matches were the least expected”!
Perfect for sharing with friends, as gifts or simply for indulging yourself, we hope you will enjoy these two collections as much as we do!
It’s one thing to say that quality wine can only be produced from quality grapes and similarly with for incredible chocolate you need incredible beans, but it is quite another to take the time and develop the skill to actually create such incredible chocolates and wines..
Once the cocoa beans have been harvested farmers must then ferment and dry the beans, further developing the chocolate flavour. Unlike wine, chocolate is rarely made in the same country the beans are grown in. Once fermented and dried, the beans are sent to craft makers all over the world. These small batch chocolate makers then roast, winnow, grind and conch the beans before tempering and molding the chocolate into bars. With each step the maker draws out the bean’s flavour profile, subtly altering and enhancing it to craft unique and delicious chocolate bars.
With wine everything starts in the vineyard, you need great grapes to make great wine. And then each harvest, called a vintage, is unique and its fruit needs to be handled differently. The grapes need to be picked at just the right moment. As with cacao, the grapes too need to be fermented. And then, depending on the style – for example white, red, sparkling, fortified etc. – they can be pressed, macerated, aged in barrel and blended before finally being put into a bottle. Throughout all these stages, art and science meld as the winemaker transforms this humble grape into unique and delicious wines.
When it comes to wine, most people are familiar with the concepts of vintage and terroir (the region the wine comes from). Most people would find it strange indeed to buy a bottle that didn’t specify, not just a country of origin (e.g. France), but also a region (such as Bordeaux or Cotes du Rhone).
In chocolate this idea has yet to reach the mainstream. At Cocoa Runners we pride ourselves that all our craft chocolate bars are single origin – or a recognised blend of cacaos (such as Fruition’s Dominican and Peruvian blend). One of the most remarkable examples of ‘terroir’ in chocolate is Marou. Samuel and Vincent, the French founders source all their cocoa beans, and make their bars in Vietnam. They have effectively divided the country into regions of ‘terroir’ each of which provides the beans for one of their dark bars. Simply tasting and comparing pieces their Dong Nai and Ba Ria is enough to show the huge impact bean origin has on taste.
Again with wine, most people will be able to tell you not simply whether they prefer red or white, but whether they favour Pinot Noir or Merlot. Cacao strains are far harder than grape varieties. The trees are naturally promiscuous, interbreeding very easily so that a single tree can have 6 or 7 different genetic strands with pods and beans of several different varieties.
This is an area of huge debate and research, with people going to huge lengths to assure genetic purity. Pascal Wirth and Niklaus Blumer of Idillio for instance genetically tests his beans. In the case of Original Beans’ Beni Wild Harvest, or Cacaosuyo’s Piura Select, the remote, isolation of the cacao crop helps to assure their ‘purity’. On the whole, we think there are many other factors than can influence a bar’s taste without delving into the complexities of cacao varietals and debates around ‘heirloom cacaos’. At the same time, if you compare the taste of of Bonnat’s Madagascar Dark with its Madagascar Criollo the difference between various cacao strands is immediately apparent.
Another familiar point of reference when buying one is vintage. Every year, the unique conditions around every harvest subtly alter the profile of the grapes, making the wines some harvests (indicated by the vintage) far better or worse than others. Chocolate vintages is a concept that only starting to be explored by makers and growers, such as Duane Dove of the Roxborough Estate in Tobago. In most regions where cacao is grown, there are two harvests a year – one in the wet season one in the dry season (in some countries, such as Hawaii, the number of harvests is even higher) – which adds another layer of complexity.
As chocolate makers continue to innovate and experiment in their quest for better bars, new beans and even more exciting flavours we look forward to seeing what they do next!
Over the past two weeks a lot has been going on at Cocoa Runners and in the world of craft chocolate.
Two weeks ago we were at Borough Market’s Icelandic Pantry with Omnom – we weren’t the only ones helping out, as the First Lady of Iceland popped by to help sell her collection.
That Sunday, Cocoa Runners co-founder Spencer appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch to taste some delicious bars and kick off the beginning of Chocolate Week in style.Spencer took Tim Lovejoy, Simon Rimmer and their guest Sarah Hadland on a tour of some of the best dark milk artisan chocolate bars. Together they tasted four fantastic bars from Duff’y, Omnom, TCHO and Original Beans.
For the third year running we were at the Chocolate Show London last weekend. As always, it was great meeting and chatting to chocolate enthusiasts both new and old.
On the Saturday, the International Chocolate Awards 2015 World Final Winners were announced at the show. It was wonderful to see many of our incredible makers being rewarded. We want to congratulate all of the well-deserved winners. There are too many for us to list here, but we were particularly delighted to see Cacaosuyo‘s fantastic chocolate being recognised as well as our good friends at Omnom and Fruition and many many more!
To celebrate their achievements we have created a special collection of bars from some of the winners.
But it’s not just our makers who are being recognised. We were overjoyed to be a runner up in the Observer Food Monthly’s Best Independent Retailer 2015 Award. Thank you to everyone who voted for us and to everyone who has supported and subscribed to Cocoa Runners over the past two years!
The next few weeks are just as busy. On Saturday 31st October we’ll be at The Wine Gang in Bath. Award-winning wine journalist and founding member of one of The Wine Gang, Joanna Simon has also curated a box for us. She has chosen five bars from our chocolate library in the hope these will delight. You can see her collection here.
One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘Is your chocolate Fairtrade’. While this seems like a yes or no question there really is no simple answer. We stock an ever-increasing number of craft chocolate makers: some are certified Fairtrade and some aren’t.
But just because they don’t have the Fairtrade certification doesn’t mean their chocolate is ‘unfair’. Take chocolate maker Menakao. Based in Madagascar, it sources all their cocoa beans from local cooperatives in the Sambirano Valley (in total around 100 farmers). The beans are then made into chocolate in the chocolate factory Menakao built locally. All 50 of its permanent employees (plus ten temporary staff members) are paid above minimum wage with highly skilled staff receiving significantly more.
Menakao is not certified Fairtrade – it felt the cost of the certification would be better spent directly helping their staff in Madagascar by investing the money in its own operations there. By creating their chocolate locally, Menakao generates four times as much income for its employees.
Of course to create great chocolate you need more than just happy workers, you need great beans. Menakao works with local Madagascan farmers and cooperatives to ensure the supply of the best quality cocoa beans. This far more direct, transparent trade relationship without middlemen and go-betweens results in a better price for farmers. Menakao pays more than the Fairtrade premium price for its cocoa beans, which benefits both parties: farmers get more for their crop and Menakao gets the best quality cocoa beans to make its chocolate with!
Less than 5% of the world’s chocolate is produced in the same country where it is grown. Producing their chocolate locally, and from all Madagascan ingredients means that at every stage Menakao contributes to and supports the local economy.
Another example of similarly ethical production is family-owned Chocolat Madagascar. Like Menakao, every stage of the production, ‘from tree to bar’ happens in Madagascar – and its factory provides employment (and living wages) for its 125 staff. Chocolat Madagascar was set up by Chocolaterie Robert, who have been producing chocolate in Madagascar since 1940, and also pays their farmers far above the Fairtrade minimum price. In their turn, the farmers take a huge amount of care in their work, producing cocoa beans of an exceptionally high standard.
Since 2010 Chocolat Madagascar has been engaged in large scale reforestation projects in Madagascar. These provide further local employment and help to protect the unique and highly endangered Malagasy flora and fauna. The result is a business that does far more than simply paying Fairtrade prices: from people to plants, to wildlife to fine chocolate fans around the world – this sustainable business model helps everyone.
Earlier this year we joined up with Pushkin Press to create a unique collection of book and bar pairings. Following their initial success we’ve created three new combinations.
The elegantly bound Pushkin Collection invites readers to discover – or rediscover – a whole range of 20th classics from all over the world. It seems only fitting that these beautifully crafted books should be paired with craft chocolate bars from around the world.
So this summer we invite you to escape into a different land with books and chocolate bars
..is a brilliant contemporary re-imagining of the greatest comic relationship of all time, which goes far beyond pastiche to places even Wodehouse couldn’t.
Pump Street Bakery’s Seal Salt and Rye Milk bar, has the uniquely intriguing inclusion of Rye bread crumbs. This gives the chocolate a sharp crunch and distinctive toasted taste that works incredibly well with the salt, which in turn cuts beautifully through the rich milk chocolate. A different quirky and British pairing, in this case the result is not so much hilarious as astoundingly delicious..
…blends biographical fact with surreal fiction to recreate the world as seen through the eyes of one of the most original writers of the twentieth century.
Manufaktura Czekolady’s Ecuador 60% is a bar on the edge of milk and dark. It has little of the sweetness you would expect from a milk bar. Instead, it gets a rich creaminess from the inclusion of a good amount of vanilla. Initially, you’re met with strong, earthy almost roasted notes that are the hallmark of Ecuadorian chocolate. These rapidly give way to an altogether mellower experience.
.. is the incredible autobiography of one of the 20th Century’s most significant writers. It charts the history of Europe from nineteenth-century splendour, decadence and complacency, through the devastation of the First World War, to the resultant brutality and depravity of the Nazi regime. The World of Yesterday is an incomparable record of a lost era. Essential reading for those who have already fallen in love with Zweig’s fiction and anyone who wishes to rediscover the history of Europe in the last Century.
To see you through Zweig’s epic tale, we’ve included two bars – a dark and a milk – from Zotter. Austrian chocolate maker Josef Zotter is known for wearing shoes that don’t match as well for producing chocolate with an incredibly smooth flavour. This comes through in both these Latin American bars. The sweet milk has naturally caramel notes and a hint of cinnamon. The Colombian dark is equally smooth but with a spicy flavour and just a little hint of fruit. Together they demonstrate the range of flavours that can be crafted out of a single bean.
The Bonnat family have been making chocolate in Voiron, France for over 130 years so it is about time we welcome the iconic Chocolat Bonnat to our chocolate library.
Bonnat describes itself as the beautiful love story between one family and chocolate, and we are sure you will fall in love with their beautifully smooth, rich bars.
Having been pioneering the creation of single origin chocolate since the 1980’s, Bonnat now works with an astounding 35 different plantations worldwide. Whatever the origin, all their dark chocolate bars follow a simple formula: each is 75% cocoa and is made purely from cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar.
We are delighted to bring you a wonderful range of their single origin bars, from Mexico to Madagascar to Sri Lanka.
Made from the highly prized Porcelana beans, the purest strain of Criollo, this bar is smooth and sweet with delicate and balanced flavour. There is a slight effervescence at the finish, which just hints of lemon sherbet.
This bar is deliciously smooth. As it melts, enjoy a hint of cooling methol that gives way slowly to a warming cinnamon finish.
Made from Venezuelan Porcelana, rich, buttery texture typical of Bonnat here is enhanced by sweeter notes of coffee and fudge. More acidic notes of apricot and fruit give this bar create a sharper finish.
This indulgently thick bar is beyond satisfying to bite into. The characteristically smooth texture we expect from Bonnat melts into a chocolatey, and almost astringent flavour, with notes of sour cherry at the finish.
This bar has a deliciously silky texture but an intense, almost astringent hit. We detected slightly nutty, almost oaky notes. This is a classic dark chocolate.
Characteristically smooth with the satisfying bite we’ve grown to love from this maker. This fragrantly smokey bar melts off into a sharp finish, with notes of key lime pie, and an almost rosey undertone.
This Venezuelan bar has an incredibly smooth, texture. This richness is complemented by subtle roasted notes, that give way to a delicate spiciness, finishing with just a hint of heat.
This bar has the classic, smooth texture of all Bonnat bars. The initial scent of camomile gives way to deliciously floral notes, that melt into a distinctly coconut finish. This is a very nice bar, and truly a pleasure to taste.
This Venezuelan bar has sweet and vegetal aroma, almost reminiscent of sugar snap peas. There is an initial spicy hit of green peppers, which develops into a warmer heat similar to pink peppercorns.
With both the earthy flavours of a good Ecuadorian bar and the buttery smoothness typical of Bonnat, this bar is an absolute classic. The vegetable notes cut through the bar’s richness before giving way to a hit of sweet carrots on the finish.
The Juliana plantation is located in the heart of the protected Pratigi zone in Brazil. As expected of Bonnat, this is an incredible smooth, and creamy bar. The initial richness has a roasted flavour with hints of coffee, which give way to sweet, vegetal notes reminiscent of sweet potato.
This bar is made exclusively of Madagascan Criollo beans. Criollo beans comprise only about 5% of the world’s cocoa harvest. As result, Criollo beans are highly prized and priced – making this bar from Bonnat a truly special treat.
In this typically smooth and creamy Bonnat, the fruity notes you would expect from a Madagascan bar, are mixed with fudge. Rather than a burst of fresh berries, we tasted caramelised, almost burnt raisins.
This bar is smooth and sweet with delicate and balanced flavour. There is a slight effervescence at the finish, which just hints of lemon sherbet.
Initially this 100% is deceptively smooth and easy. The buttery richness quickly gives way to layer upon layer intense cocoa.
There is some discussion and confusion over whether women should eat chocolate when they are pregnant. At Cocoa Runners, the chocolate from our makers does not contain caffeine so pregnant women have no need to worry about our bars adding to their daily caffeine intake! All our bars have short, simple ingredients lists with no nasty additives.
You don’t need to steer clear from chocolate! In fact, chocolate has a number of benefits for pregnant women and their babies:
1. Cocoa contains Theobromine, which helps regulate the blood pressure of pregnant women. Eating dark chocolate can help prevent pre-eclampsia, one of the causes of premature birth.
2. Chocolate makes you feel happy! It improves mothers’ moods and relieves tension and stress. A New Scientist study also found that stressed mothers who ate chocolate gave birth to happier and livelier babies!
3. Chocolate has lots of immune boosting antioxidants, as well as vital nutrients such as magnesium and iron. Magnesium helps the metabolism of fatty acids and the antioxidants in dark chocolate are significant in preventing heart disease.
4. Dark chocolate also aids the reduction of women’s cholesterol levels, when eaten in moderation.
Dark chocolate is recommended over milk to pregnant women, as it has many more health benefits. Here at Cocoa Runners we have a wide range of dark bars and dark chocolate subscription options to satisfy all those pregnancy cravings!