Here at Cocoa Runners, we’re getting in the mood for Christmas. And from now ’til Christmas we will be sharing some of our favourites from the Cocoa Runners Christmas collections. Whether you’re shopping for a £9.95 stocking filler or a £99.95 luxury hamper, you’ll find something for everyone on your list at Cocoa Runners.
Everybody has a foodie in their life who knows just what they like. And sometimes they can be the hardest person to shop for. With this in mind we’re delighted to share our latest Dark and Milk Chocolate collections. They’re just the thing for that single minded chocolate lover on your list.
Each box is filled with just one type of chocolate, and they come in three different sizes priced from £9.95 to £19.95. So whether you’re in the mood to spoil a special someone, or searching for a stocking filler, they could be just the thing you’ve been looking for:
These are the must have collections for the epicure who only wants the very best, exceptional quality, artisan chocolate. The ‘gift’ that never quite make it to Mum’s. Both boxes are priced at £19.95 (inc shipping) and contain four fabulous bars from Europe and the Americas. The Dark Chocolate Aficionado’s Collection features decadently delicious dark bars from makers such as Dandelion and Akesson’s. While the Milk Chocolate Aficionado’s Collection includes a rich creamy bar from Idilio and a truly unique Brown Butter bar from Bryan Graham and the team at Fruition.
If you know someone who knows they love artisan chocolate, and want to explore its full range of flavours more thoroughly, this is the gift to buy for them. Priced at £14.95 (inc shipping), the Milk Chocolate Explorers Collection features a truly stunning bar from the aptly named Chocolate Makers, and a smooth and creamy chocolate with scrumptious notes of pistachio from Chocolaterie Robert. The Dark Chocolate Explorers includes marvellously fruity bars from Akesson’s and Blanxart.
Buy the milk chocolate collection today >>
Buy the dark chocolate collection today >>
Do you know someone who loves chocolate? Why not introduce them to the wonderful world of handcrafted chocolate with these wonderful introductory boxes. The Dark Chocolate Taster Box features bars from Origianl Beans, Madecasse and Cluizel. And the Milk Chocolate Taster Box includes bars from Chocolaterie Robert, Original Beans and Menakao. What’s more, priced at just £9.95, they’re an absolute bargain. We think they’d make a wonderfully quirky secret santa present that you just know they’d really truly love.
Make this Christmas one to remember with our gorgeous range of hampers, gift collections and stocking fillers. We’ve over thirty gift collections, with everything from £9.95 mini gifts to £99.95 hampers. And what’s more, we ship these beautifully gift wrapped collections around the world. So you can always share the gift of artisan chocolate with your loved ones, wherever they might be.
Smoke will be in the air tonight. A bonfire, a burning Guy, watching fireworks with friends, and why not an artisan chocolate bar from Papua New Guinea as a sweet treat? With their delicious, typically smokey and roasted flavours they are the perfect bar to enjoy during the firey festivities of Guy Fawkes.
Unlike most areas where cacao is grown, the high rainfalls in Papua New Guinea mean it is not practical to dry the pods in the sun. Instead, the beans are dried by open fires, which infuses the beans, and consequently the bars, with a natural smokiness. Beautiful flavours ideal for the smokey fun of bonfire night. If you love the smokey sweetness of barbecue sauce, this is one for you.
Header image Credit: Flickr User Aff Photography
High quality artisan chocolate, like good wine, comes with a range of flavour profiles to suit every palate. Not surprising when you consider it is a fruit and, like wine, goes through a number of different processes in production, all of which can affect its flavour. In fact it is one of the few products with a broader flavour profile than wine. However, the flavours are not just affected by the production or by which beans are used, but like wine it can be affected by how it has been grown, and here’s why:
A French loan word and often used in the context of wine, the term ‘terroir’ is the sort of word that, if you don’t know what it means, can seem a little pretentious and alienating. Especially when said in a bad French accent. But, in fact, whilst having a lot to do with wine, terroir is also important when considering bean to bar chocolate.
‘Terroir’ is loosely translated as ‘a sense of a place’. Essentially, it is the sum of the effects the local environment has on the production of the product. Characteristics such as the geography, geology and climate of a place all have an impact on the natural agricultural produce found in that area, and most of the time, it is produce such as wine, coffee, chocolate, hops, wheat and tea that are most effected. Everything – from the soil to the sky – can have a direct causal link to a product’s unique characteristics.
It’s fairly widely known that the origins of cocoa beans has a massive impact on the flavour of a finished chocolate bar. Bars from Madagascar beans, for example, are characteristically fruity whilst Ecuadorian bars are much more earthy. However it’s not just the country that the cocoa came from that can affect flavour. In much the same way that it affects the grape, the terroir of the cocoa plant plays a significant part in creating unique flavours. What emerges, then, is a dual – influence; region – the country of origin, and terroir – the conditions of growth. To this end Vincent and Samuel, the men behind Marou, have gone so far as to divide Vietnam in to separate regions, much like french wine growing regions. Each region produces vastly different tasting bars, even though they use the same beans and produce them in the same factory.
Take Bertil Akesson. Some of his most unique bars contain pepper as inclusions; for example he makes 75% Madagascan bars from his Ambolikapiky plantation, containing either black, wild voatsiperifery or pink peppers. The synergy of tastes – the delicate sweetness of the chocolate and the tanginess of the pepper – works amazingly well in the bar and unsurprisingly too. Bertil actually grows his own peppers on a plot next to the cocoa plantation, using the pepper plant to shade the cocoa. Right from the root the the cocoa and peppers have been together, and the fantastic taste of his pepper inclusions bars is testimony to the cocoa’s unique terroir.
Danish chocolate maker Friis Holm has also been known to play with the terroir of their cocoa. The Chuno bar was made in two versions, where the only different between the bars was the number of times the cocoa beans were turned during the fermentation process. For what is seemingly such a small thing, the results are astounding. The two bars have noticeably different flavours, and serve to further underline the difference a bar’s terroir can make to it as a finished product.
To celebrate these similarities we’ve partnered with Wine Chap Tom Harrow, Wine Director of Honest Grapes, and put together a selection of chocolate for wine lovers. Tom is wine director of Honest Grapes (@honestgrapes) and founder of WineChap (@winechapUK). He is by turns a wine writer, buyer, blogger, presenter, consultant and events & vineyard tour host. And we’re delighted to present his curated selection of bars for wine lovers.
Set up only two years ago, the International Chocolate Awards have become a hugely respected and influential body. Reflecting its international character, this years America’s Semi-Final results were announced in London on the 18th October.
From the USA there were awards for Askinosie’s Dark Milk Chocolate and Licorice CollaBARation (TM). Flavoured with Liqourice (or Licorice if you’re American) from Lakritsfabriken, the result is a delightfully different chocolate bar and worthy winner of Gold in the Milk Chocolate Flavoured with Inclusions Category. In addition Dandelion picked up silver in the Dark Single Origin Category for their fruity and intense Ambanja Madagascar, whilst Taza’s Cacao Puro won two golds for their “rough ground” dark bar.
Adding to their geographic cross pollination, Martin, Marcel and their team this year extended their coverage to add a category for chocolate makers in South America, Asia and Africa. Santiago and his crew from Pacari again did Ecuador proud, winning a score of awards. We were also delighted to see CacaoSuyo pick up awards for some of their new bars that we’ll be bringing in shortly – their Camu Camu Yakon won a gold and their Lakuna won silver.
Marou also won gold with a new 85% bar, based on their Treasure Island beans, called Tan Phu Dong 85% that we hope to have soon. And then from Africa we were delighted to congratulate Chocolate Madagascar for winning awards for their white, milk and dark bars.
To celebrate these fantastic awards we’ve put together two delicious collections. However, as the ICA team keep the judging under tight wraps, we had no advanced notice of who would win, and consequently stock is very, very limited.
At Cocoa Runners we aspire to, and look enviously at, the way in which fine wine has become part of daily life. Thanks to a host of great enthusiasts such as Hugh Johnson, Oz Clarke and Jancis Robinson, we’ve all become far more comfortable with, and interested in, wine. Now even the supermarkets sell great wines. Artisan chocolate is on the same path. Whenever we taste chocolate they immediately cite similarities between wine and chocolate – breadth of flavour, the importance of high quality ingredients, the skill and craftsmanship involved. So we asked Tom Harrow Wine Director of Honest Grapes (@honestgrapes on Twitter) and founder of Wine Chap (@winechapUK), columnist for the Financial Times blogger, buyer, presenter and much else to curate a selection of chocolates for us. And next week we’re joining him at his festival – Honest Grapes “Big day out” – to showcase this box.
In Tom’s words “Chocolate, like wine is all about flavours, tastes and “noses”. And sometimes these flavour notes overlap.” But he also notes that, “few wines pair naturally with chocolate, Mas Amiels from the Pyrenees, Banyuls and particularly Recioto di Valpolicella being notable exceptions.” And he was at pains to note that his selection is “very much NOT a pairing guide” instead it is “based on the belief that if you prefer certain wine styles and grapes then you will be drawn towards certain chocolates.” So here is his selection – with the whole selection available in this £29.95 gift box.
This bar has delightful lime and citrus notes making it a natural comparison to very dry, zesty wines with strong citrus elements. So if you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, Albarinho, Gavi di Gavi or Gruner Veltliner we think this will be the bar for you.
The delicious creaminess and smooth texture of this bar, created by the founders of wired magazine, make it ideal for individuals that enjoy richer, softer whites. Ones with a little depth and creaminess and some hints of the spice cupboard. An ideal chocolate for lovers of whites ranging from sensitively oaked Chardonnay to Chenin, Semillon and Viogner.
With powerful fruity notes typical of Bertil Akesson’s Madagascan beans, from which it is made, this bar will appeal to supporters of vibrant mid-weight, elegant reds with gentle tanins redolent of wild strawberries. A bar for lovers of Pinot Noir, Gamay or the aforementioned Recioto di Valpolicela.
Marou classify their chocolates by the regions of Vietnam the beans were grown in, believing that like with wine, the terroir has a huge effect on the taste of the bar. This rich and fruity bar is a sublime taste experience, perfect if you enjoy pungent reds bursting with forest fruits and pepper. It’s wine comparisons would, in ours and Tom’s opinion, be the likes of Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Sangiovese, Carmenere and Tempranillio.
Rounding out this delicious experiment is the Belize bar by Brooklyn’s own Mast Brothers. Its complex fruity and citrus flavour with notes of blood orange and banana make it an exciting chocolate to enjoy. One that will appeal to lovers of Cabernet, Merlot or Malbec with their various fruity and flavoursome notes of cassis, black cherries and cedar.
Now, individual palates can be unpredictable and contrary things. This means that whilst we figure lovers of certain wine styles and grapes will find certain chocolates appealing it might not be exactly as we, and Tom, have suggested. However, one thing we are certain of is you will enjoy the experiment…so check out the box today and we look forward to your feedback. And next week we’re joining him at his festival – Honest Grapes “Big day out” – to showcase this box. Why not join us and get your tickets today.
With over 200 bars in our Chocolate Library, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start your chocolate adventure. But don’t worry – we’re here to help.
Perhaps you came across a particular bar that you liked in a Cocoa Runners subscription or gift box but can’t for the life of you remember the name of it? The filters along the left hand side of the chocolate library should be able to help you find it again. They let you cut down the selection of bars according to factors ranging from maker, to chocolate type, to flavour and texture.
But what if you’ve not got a particular chocolate in mind, and instead want to discover more bars you think you’d like? Fear not, we’ve got all bases covered. Here at Cocoa Runners, carefully curated bars that match individual preferences is something very important to us, and something we put a lot of time into. That’s why we developed our Chocolate Lovers Taste Test.
Simply answer a few quick questions about your foodie preferences and we’ll choose four bars that have been individually tailored to you – and which we think you’ll love. What’s more, we’ll give you the links for the bars, taking you straight through to the chocolate library where you can find out more about their origins, makers and flavour profiles. And we’ll even give you 10% off if you decide to try them out. Finding delicious chocolate really couldn’t be easier!
We are delighted to bring to you four brand new bars from Original Beans. Created to celebrate Original Beans’ 5th birthday, these bars explore new geographies (Indonesian Papua), and new chocolate types, with Edel Weiss, a white chocolate made with Swiss Milk and no vanilla (unusual for a white chocolate bar).
Not only do these bars taste amazingly good, but they do good too. With these bars, comes a new twist to Original Beans’ promise to plant a new cacao tree in the Congolese rainforest for every bar sold. With every sale of the new Femmes de Virunga milk bar one new tree is given to a female cacao farmer in Virunga.
Made with beans from Indonesian Papua this bar is atypical of chocolate from the area. It is both smoother and has less of the smokey, roasted notes than a normal bar from Papua New Guinea. This alone makes it a deliciously different tasting experience and is a consequence of the beans being dried more traditionally than the typical Papuan manner of roasting them over fires. Combined with its notes of Citrus, pear and dried fruits and you have a delightfully different way to enjoy Papuan chocolate.
The Grand Cru Blend is an 80% cocoa bar with an immensely intense taste, courtesy of its creation using only cocoa beans and can sugar with no added cocoa butter. Its powerful fruit notes and roasted flavour make the Gran Kru Blend a complex pleasure for the palate. One to perhaps savour slowly with guests and a glass of good quality red wine.
This milk bar packs a mighty 55% cacao content and oozes richness with some great coffee notes. Mixed in with notes of roasted Hazlenuts this is another delightfully complex bar. A perfect complement for your coffee, whatever type you have and whatever time of day you have it.
White chocolate normally relies on vanilla flavouring, but not Original Beans Edel Weiss. Instead it is a mixture 40% Trinatario cocoa from the Yina River Valley in the Dominican Republic and Swiss alpine milk. This combination works wonderfully resulting in a deliciously sweet and creamy bar. With its rich notes of Banana Milk this bar is definitely worth a try.
So if this is whetting your epicurean appetite why not try these brand new bars today, all available for just £3.95.
We have exciting news!
It’s a new concept all about giving exclusive members the opportunity to buy certain bars from our chocolate library at a discounted price. As Cocoa Runners Insiders, you’ll be the first to know about the bars that we’ve reduced, meaning you can beat the crowds and bag the discounted bars before everyone else gets to hear about them. We’re fast-tracking you to cheaper choc. Whether you choose to share the secret with friends or family not in-the-know is up to you.
Becoming a Cocoa Runners Insider really couldn’t be easier. Anyone who has ever purchased from Cocoa Runners – whether it be a monthly subscription, a one-off gift box or even a single bar – will have exclusive access to the discounts. So there’s no need to be tied into a monthly box; you don’t need to be a chocolate expert or even particularly knowledgeable at all about chocolate to become a Cocoa Runners Insider. All that’s required is a love of artisan chocolate which has meant you’ve made a purchase from our site at some point in the past.
We’ll let you know about these discounts in a fortnightly email that gives more information on the makers and bars. You’ll be able to add the chocolate to your cart with two clicks, and the bars will be dispatched the next day. Getting great, discounted chocolate really couldn’t be easier.
So stay ahead of the game. Make your first purchase and become a Cocoa Runners Insider today.
Here at Cocoa Runners, we’ve travelled across 5 continents, 60 countries and 200 towns. We’ve tasted over 1000 bars and selected just 200 for our chocolate library. But finding chocolate from all around the world doesn’t mean we forget our roots. Hidden in the corners of the UK are some fantastic artisan chocolate makers and we’ve assembled the best of their bars in this box.
Here’s the bars we’ve included and why we think they are great representatives for their makers:
Willie Harcourt-Sooze is the larger-than-life character made famous by Channel 4’s documentary “Willie’s Wonky Chocolate factory.” He is a pioneer of the UK bean to bar chocolate industry so no collection of UK bars would be complete without one of his. At the heart of Willie’s Milk of the Gods bar is his wacky ethos and it perfectly exemplifies his charismatic, enthusiastic personality.
Pump Street was originally founded as a bakery by Chris Brennan, a former jet-setting IBM Executive and a man with an insatiable desire to invent. This quickly led him, and his daughter Joanna, to turn their hands to make brilliant bean to bar chocolate. Chocolate that has not only been recognised for its taste, but also for its inventive packaging. This particularly bar brings together both sides of the business, meaning we think it is the perfect representative for Pump Street. It has a distinctive crunch and a truly unique flavour, containing yeasty notes rounded off with a flavour of honey and treacle.
What better way to represent a former motorsport engineer than by including in the box his hardest bar to make – featuring salt and nibs inclusions. Combined with the sweet creamy texture you would expect of a Milk, this bar not only epitomises the maker but is a truly worthy inclusion in the box.
Ali and Friederike Gower, the geniuses behind The Chocolate Tree, are characteristically understated; unlike their brilliant bars, whose quality speaks for itself. The Chocolate Tree produced a bar with an unique blend just for us a little while ago, so we couldn’t resist including their 70% peru in this box.
Rounding off our box and representing Wales in this Great British line up is Forever Cacao and their signature raw chocolate. Pablo has a passion for raw chocolate by accident after tasting it at a friends party, and this is the first bar of his to feature in our Chocolate library. Made from Criollo beans originating in Peru, it has distinctive earthy flavours.
As you can see we think these are amazing British bars that we are sure you will enjoy. The best of British box is a fantastic way of exploring the artisan chocolate landscape of Britain. It will allow you to share this hidden secret with friends, as a gift, or as a unique end for a diner party.
It’s no secret that we absolutely love chocolate. We think it has many amazing and surprising qualities – we’ve already talked about how its potential health benefits. However, we, like many of you, never expected to come across a useful chocolate teapot. But science is a wonderful thing. So, whilst nibbling on a few of our award winning bars the team here at Cocoa Runners have been discussing other surprising chocolate items. After much debate, we managed to narrow it down to a Top 5. Enjoy…
In 2011 Karl Largerfeld crafted an entire hotel room from chocolate. Perhaps the most shocking thing is this isn’t the only room made entirely out of chocolate. But for our money its the most elegantly designed and perhaps the most insane of them, but what else would you expect from a man like Lagerfeld. While we’d be sorely tempted to check in, we’re not sure how much would be left of the room when we check out…
Whilst the previous idea was essentially just a promotional stunt and never intended to be slept in, models at the Salon Du Chocolate actually wear chocolate dresses down the catwalk. Now given that some dresses can weigh as much as 50kg this gives a whole new meaning to staying cool under pressure…
On the theme of fashion we were amazed by the “Saffire Slipper” chocolate shoes! We had to admire how beautiful these handcrafted chocolate gifts were and just how much effort must have gone in to making them. With a price tag of £700, they’d certainly be a wonderfully indulgent treat!
There’s also quite the list of full sized guys gadgets made out of chocolate. We didn’t quite believe this when we first heard about it, but there’s a BMW 1-Series made from an incredible 200 tonnes of chocolate. Now we can honestly think of better uses for so much chocolate, but still, an impressive feat none the less.
After visiting the Speciality and Fine Food Fair this morning we really couldn’t leave this off the list. An amazing giant size chocolate Saxophone was the centre piece of this years invent. Created by Master Chocolatiers Phillipe Wall and Jean-Marie Dessard, it was designed in honour of Belgium’s contribution to chocolate and to highlight the fact the Saxophone was invented by a Belgian (Joseph “Adolphe” Sax). To be honest we just wanted to take a bite and see if it tasted as good as it looked.
But still no chocolate fireguard, at least one quip is still available to us. Now if you’re like us you’re probably craving some chocolatey goodness right now, so why not check out our chocolate library, and then let us know what some of your favourites are!