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  • Oct 15

    Bienvenido a Maraná!

    By Elizabeth  ·  New Makers

    Join us in saying ‘Bienvenido a Maraná!’, the newest Peruvian maker to joinour Chocolate Library.  

    Peru is know to have a rich history of growing cocoa, however it has been relatively slow to join the revolution in craft chocolate making. Maraná joins only a handful of makers crafting chocolate from bean to bar in Peru.

    After a decade in the corporate world, founders Zulema and Giuseppe were insearch of a more fulfilling career. They had come to learn about the growing popularity of Peruvian cocoa as an ingredient, and decided to explore ways inwhich they might be able to use their native cacao to craft chocolate in Peru.  They embarked on a  journey of exploration, learning in parallel about thedifferent cacao regions and profiles found within Peru, and about the technical skills needed to craft these natural ingredients into world class bars.

    Very quickly they decided that their focus was to be on sourcing cacao fromsingle regions, and maintaining close relationships with those involved ingrowing the cacao.  For Zulema and Giuseppe, this means more than just giving their farmers a fair price for their beans.  They believe that the only wayin which Maraná can grow and improve is if their farmers grow too.  When weasked them about this, they said “At Maraná, we value the work of our cacao farmers and seek to make a real impact on theirlives and those of theirfamilies. We work with them hand-in- hand, as partners, implementing fair price policies that ensure sustainable development and sound living conditions. We also organize programs aimed at improving their harvesting and post-harvesting techniques and optimizing the quality of their products, thus allowing them to gain access to markets thatoffer higher prices.”

    In order for this to be a sustainable approach, very early on Zulema andGiuseppe decided to source cocoa from only three regions where they areconfident that  the cocoa is top quality and the farmers are keen to work inpartnership with Maraná.  Rather than producing a generic ‘Peruvian’ chocolate, they produce microbatches of chocolate, made from beans fromeach region.  They believe that this micro batch approach would allow them tosource the finest potable beans, and that by focussing on a single region foreach of their bars, they are able to showcase not only the flavours of Peru as awhole, but the flavours of the individual regions.  Zulema and Giuseppe identified three particular regions that they wanted to concentrate on from thestart: Cusco, Piura and San Martin.

    Through their distinctive packaging, Marana has sought to represent thecultural identity and heritage of their nation with designs that perfectly capture the mystery of Peru’s Amazonian folklore. For example, the San Martin collection is inspired by the mysterious and alluring Amazonian engravings. These present images of everyday life for those living within the Amazon. Theyare then illustrated against the magical and mystical backdrop of their myths. You can see gigantic boas and magical sirens next to jungle farmers andvillagers on these bars.

    Their hard work has paid off – not only do their bars taste (and look!) great, but they have also been recognised by a host of international awarding bodies.  They received a number of awards in the Latin American leg of the 2017 International Chocolate Awards, and two Silver Awards in the World Finals ofthe International Chocolate Awards in 2017.

    We first met Zulema and Giuseppe when they were travelling in Europe earlierthis year, and we’ve been lucky enough to catch up in person again just thispast month in London and Paris –  we can’t wait to share more about theirupcoming projects with you too!

    Browse Marana’s bars in our Chocolate Library today.

    We hope you love these bars too!

  • Sep 16

    Just Landed – Brand New Bars, Direct From Portugal’s Hottest Craft Chocolate Maker

    By Elizabeth  ·  Uncategorized

    This week we are delighted to say Welcome!, Yokoso and Bem Vinda toTomoko-san and Sue of our first Portugese Craft Chocolate Maker, Feitoria doCacao.

    The genesis of Fetoria do Cocao is a combination of travel and cooking. Sue Tavares has a long career as a chef, and Tomoko-san and she met whilstTomoko-san was exploring Portugal as part of her singing career. A few yearsafter meeting, they went on an epic adventure, involving changing planes multiple times, to visit Sao Tome and find out more about cacao growing andvisit cacao plantations. The were blown away by what they saw.

    Sue and Tomoko-san travelled all over the island, met local farmers and were humbled by the day to day challenges these farmers overcame. They also experienced the wonders of freshly harvest cocoa beans and were fascinatedby the different flavours that local farmers could coax out of the beans throughdifferent fermentation and drying techniques.

    Returning to Portugal they determined to build Portugal’s first craft chocolate company. In the years since they first saw cocoa growing in Sao Tome, theyhave spent every spare moment learning as much as they could about crafting fine chocolate bars – corresponding with makers in the UK, Japan, the US, Germany and indeed all over their They have made it their mission to become connoisseurs of craft chocolate, tasting bars from a huge range of makers tohelp develop their palates and hone their craft.

    Initially they experimented out of their kitchen, and then a year or so ago they opened a small story, with a craft factory in the basement, in their home town of Evora – described by the Portugese as the “Venice of Portugal” thanks to its canals and seaside geography. Evora is a short train ride from Oporto – and we were lucky enough earlier in the year to visit them, taste some of their new bars and see their operations first hand.

    Since then we’ve caught up with them again in London when they visited to collect their well deserved awards from the the Academy of Chocolate, and weare now delighted to be able to offer you some of their bars.

    Tomoko-san and Sue hand craft all their bars from small batches of beans. Their bars are, as far as we know, impossible to find out outside of Portugal –and Sue and Tomoka sell almost all of their bars straight from their factory assoon as they are made. It took nearly six months for us to persuade them to sell us an allocation of bars, so we would warmly encourage you to try them while you can.

    Visit our Chocolate Library to taste these amazing bars today!

    We hope you love these bars too!

     

  • Sep 10
    Welcome Qantu

    Welcome Qantu: a brand new, award-winning maker from Canada

    By Elizabeth  ·  New Makers

    Meeting a new craft chocolate maker and tasting their bars is always exciting. Meeting a new craft chocolate maker who has already won a host of awardsand tasting bars that make your jaw drop is pretty special.

    At the Academy of Chocolate Awards this year we had the pleasure of meeting Maxime & Elfi of Qantu. Having only launched Qantu in February of this yearthey had flown over especially from Montreal to collect an award for every barthey entered (two Golds & one Silver) as well as a special New Chocolate Maker Award.

    Quantu’s first three bars all use Peruvian beans and are classic, simple, andwonderful bars that just contain cocoa mass, cocoa butter and some sugar. The depth and balance of flavour in each iss remarkable. Qantu has nowadded a fourth bar to its collection: a 100% crafted from Peruvian Chuncho beans with a fantastically smooth, deep profile.

    The pair attributes Quantu’s chocolate achievements to years of chocolate eating. A few years ago their gourmand hobby even led them to visit a farm inSan Martin in Peru, which planted the seed of their future endeavours.

    When Maxime & Elfi decided to turn their long term passion into a life it wassimple to decide where they would start looking for beans. They traveled toPeru, where Elfi was born and raised, and where the couple first met. Thename Qantu also reflects these roots. Qantu or Cantuta is the national flowerof Peru (and, confusing, also for Bolivia).

    They are currently working with two different farmer co-operatives: one inPiura and one in Ayacucho. Qantu buy and import directly from the co-opsthemselves without any middlemen.

    They are currently working with two different farmer co-operatives: one inPiura and one in Ayacucho. Qantu buys and imports directly from the co-opsthemselves without any middlemen. Once the beans arrive from Lima, Elfi andMaxime can start crafting their bars. The time it takes to get from bean to bar varies, as the pair adjust roast and conche times for each of their chocolates. When asked the secret to their chocolate making process, the answer wassimple, ‘Just a lot of love!’.

    They hand craft every bar. They’ve been delighted by the way their bars havebeen received – and have struggled to craft bars to meet growing demand intheir local home market. We’ve persuaded them to let us have a very small allocation for this year – so if you want to be on the few to try these amazing bars this year, we strongly suggest you order them now and “love them” thesame way Max and Elfi have enjoyed crafting them!

    Try the bars from Qantu today.

    We hope you love these bars too!

  • Aug 11
    Chocolate Tasting

    Chocolate Tasting Evenings With Cocoa Runners

    By Cocoa Runners  ·  Tastings

    New dates announced for our ever-popular craft chocolate tasting evenings.

    While the sun might be shinning at the moment, Autumn is sneaking round the corner.

    Once the weather begins to cool, we always find ourselves yearning for the comfort of a little extra craft chocolate. So we invite you to join us at our new series of craft chocolate tastings, held at Prufrock Coffee.

    You will be able to taste around 14 different craft chocolates while also learning more about the cocoa origins, crafting process, and industry as a whole. This the perfect opportunity to ask the questions you’ve always wanted to and meet like-minded craft chocolate lovers.

    Our chocolate tastings are fun and informal events, generally designed around a particular theme. From passionate craft chocolate insiders, to those just discovering ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate, we welcome a range of guests at our events. This is seated tasting, accompanied by a presentation and guidance

    And if you want to treat a friend, you can also purchase a pair of tickets that can be used at any relevant tasting in the next 6 months.

    See below for a full list of upcoming tastings:
    Tuesday 12th September 2017

    Cocoa Runners Craft Chocolate Tasting
    7pm – Prufrock Coffee

    Tuesday 10th October 2017

    Cocoa Runners Craft Chocolate Tasting
    7pm – Prufrock Coffee

    Tuesday 14th November 2017

    Cocoa Runners Craft Chocolate Tasting
    7pm – Prufrock Coffee

    Tuesday 5th December 2017

    Cocoa Runners Craft Chocolate Tasting
    7pm – Prufrock Coffee

     

    Tickets cost £25 each or £45 for a pair. All tickets include a small glass of wine on arrival and water will of course be provided.

    We hold our tastings at Prufrock Coffee, 23-25 Leather Lane. Events start at 7pm so we advise you arrive a few minutes beforehand. If you have any allergies or intolerances please let us know in advance and we will do our best to accommodate you.

    We hope to see you soon!

  • Aug 05
    Omnom Caramel Milk

    Omnom & Reykjavik Pride 2017

    By Cocoa Runners  ·  New Products

    [vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]We think that all craft chocolate is magical. It tastes like nothing else, the simple ingredients mean its better for you, and open, sustainable supply chains means its better for farmers.

    But sometimes craft chocolate can be even more magical.

    This year Omnom is sponsoring Reykjavik Pride. For the festivities Omnom has whipped up 2000 bags of its rainbow Omnom Popp – a special popcorn coated in chocolate and available in five colourful flavours.

    If you’re unable to attend the festivities then never fear! Omnom has distilled a little Pride magic into a limited edition batch of its Caramel + Milk flavoured Pride bar. As we’ve come to expect from Omnom, this bar is a feast on they eyes as well as the tongue. The beautiful packaging features prancing unicorns and of course a rainbow background. But this is just the start – open the packet to discover the delicious chocolate beneath.

    Omnom will be donating all the proceeds from Omnom Popp and the Caramel + Milk bar to Reykjavik Pride. We are delighted to fly the flag and support our Icelandic friends.

    And whether you’re on Brighton Beach or at home, you can taste some of the magic yourself. We’ve a very few of the limited bars for you so we recommend you grab yours while you can (rainbow unicorns are famously hard to catch).

    OMNOM – CARAMEL + MILK 2017

     

    Save

    Save[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][image_with_animation image_url=”92420″ alignment=”” animation=”None” img_link_large=”yes” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    A joyful celebration of diversity, Icelandic unity and pride.

    The sweet chocolate uses Omnom’s fudgy, malted-tasting Nicaragua Milk as a base.

    Enhancing the caramel notes in the chocolate, the bar’s surfaces is sprinkled with caramel pieces that have been coated in even more milk chocolate.

    As you unwrap the bar you might just discover an extra bit of sparkle…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

  • Jul 16

    New Bars We’re Enjoying this Month

    By Cocoa Runners  ·  New Products

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    Five of The Best New Chocolate Bars

    Every month, we allow you to discover four new chocolate bars with our monthly subscription. The chocolate world is a big one, with makers sourcing beans from all around the world from Peru to Africa to Papua New Guinea and the Dominican Republic. We’ve tasted chocolate from every corner of the globe and we love to try new bars, whether it’s dark chocolate or milk. Each bar tastes different in its own unique way and it’s surprising how different each bar cam taste and it’s all dependant on the beans used and how the bar has bean created from the tree to the shelves.

    Here at Cocoa Runners, it’s our job to discover the world’s best chocolate bars. We have tried thousands upon thousands of chocolate bars; some we’ve disliked, some we’ve liked and some we cannot live without. We have carefully rounded u our favourite new chocolate bars that we think everybody should try.

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/georgia-ramon-r-a-w/”][image_with_animation image_url=”86458″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/georgia-ramon-r-a-w/”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    GEORGIA RAMON

    R.A.W

    This special addition bar is made with unroasted Trinitario cocoa beans from Peru, and at maximum temperature of 55.55° C, it tastes incredible. This chocolate gives notes of fruity acidity with the aroma and taste of an earl grey tea with a hint of orange.

    There is no definition of raw, there is no get hold of raw. How are the fermented beans? That’s handiwork and the temperatures can be very high. How the beans are dried, that there is quite a difference, or it is on a concrete slab in the burning sun, or on grates in a tunnel with shade cloth. And if cocoa butter is added, this component is by definition not raw.

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/morin-lait-jamaique/”][image_with_animation image_url=”86461″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/morin-lait-jamaique/”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    MORIN

    LAIT JAMAÏQUE MARAVIA MILK

    Jamaican beans have a history of being one of the first cacaos to be imported to the United Kingdom, though at the time chocolate was primarily a drink rather than a bar for eating.

    These beans from Jamaica carry natural flavours such as fruit, nutty hints and sometimes, even an earthy tone all at the same time. A relatively hard to get hold of origin, the beans are primarily Trinitario. This classic milk chocolate has a fresh cream quality and a gentle pannacotta note which deepens into caramel with every bite.

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/fruition-corazon-quinoa-crunch/”][image_with_animation image_url=”86463″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/fruition-corazon-quinoa-crunch/”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    FRUITION

    CORAZON QUINOA CRUNCH

    This bar made by Fruition is limited edition. Using beans from San Martin and Maranon in Peru. Fruition have created a truly delicious milk chocolate bar with a surprising crunch. With every bite, you will notices notes of passion fruit, berries and lime salt.

    Fruition is a small batch bean to bar chocolate workshop located in the Catskill Mountains of New York. With tremendous attention to detail, they slowly roast and stone grind carefully selected cocoa beans to accentuate their inherent flavour. Sometimes being a perfectionist really pays off when the chocolates tastes this good.

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/duffys-dominican-republic-taino-65/”][image_with_animation image_url=”92591″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/duffys-dominican-republic-taino-65/”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    DUFFY’S

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TAINO 65%

    This bar is made from fine organic “Hispaniola” cocoa beans. The cane sugar and cocoa butter are also completely organic, with the latter coming from the Dominican Republic. When Duffy’s are making this chocolate the whole factory smells of pineapples!
    Duffy’s produce single origin artisan chocolate bars made from cacao sources for various different regions located all over the world. Duffy’s have complete control of their roasting and processing of the cocoa beans they use because they do it all themselves in Lincolnshire.

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/damon-buffalo-milk-blend/”][image_with_animation image_url=”86468″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://cocoarunners.com/shop/damon-buffalo-milk-blend/”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    DAMSON

    BUFFALO MILK BLEND

    Before founding Damson in 2015, Dom Ramsey was a prolific chocolate blogger, as well as a founding member of Cocoa Runners. In between crafting bars in Islington, Dom managed to find time to write his own book. Simply titled Chocolate, the book covers everything from the history of cacao to how you can craft your own. This bar combines cocoa beans from Ingeman in Nicaragua, Akesson in Madagascar and buffalo milk from Laverstoke Farm in Hampshire.

    This bar gives rich dark milk notes with sweet flavours of dark caramel and fudge. There is also a subtle hint of red berries which adds depth.

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][/vc_column][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][image_with_animation alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

  • Mar 07
    Craft Chocolate London

    Craft Chocolate Makers in London

    By Cocoa Runners  ·  Uncategorized

    The London craft chocolate scene is booming.

    When Cocoa Runners started in 2013 there were no small-batch craft makers in London. Back then you could pretty much count all of the UK’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers on one hand.

    Fast forward less than four years and London has now got a growing handful of dedicated and talented craft chocolate makers. While fantastic small-batch chocolate makers are also appearing in cities such as Manchester and Sheffield, London truly is the capital of British craft chocolate.

    More and more artisan makers are appearing in London. Each of these makers has a unique style but they all share a desire to craft the best possible chocolate straight from the bean.

    In small workshops spaces, or even their spare rooms, they use the smallest number of ingredients possible to make chocolate with distinct flavours. The focus is not on flavourings or novelty ingredients but on the complex characteristics of the cocoa beans.

    Discover the incredible pioneers crafting small-batch chocolate in London…

    Lucocoa

    ama andyThe first maker to officially launch in 2014 was North London’s Lucocoa, founded by Ama and Andy. As they recently told the Times, Ama and Andy have two objectives. First they want people to eat purer, better chocolate with good simple ingredients, and to that end their bars never contain anything more than five ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter, coconut sugar, milk and lucuma (a Peruvian superfood). More than that, Lucocoa is trying to encourage people to savour chocolate as one would a fine wine.

    For International Women’s Day this year, Ama from Lucocoa has created a series of chocolates celebrating the achievements of female cocoa farmers and growers. We’ve partnered with her to bring you her International Women’s Day Limited Edition Belize dark chocolate bar.

    The special wrapper depicts Minni Forman, Managing Director of Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize. Minni is key to all aspects of Maya Mountain’s operations. She oversees everything from Maya Mountain’s research farm to its post-harvest facilities and relationships with local farmers. Ama has used beans from Minni and Maya Mountain to craft this special bar.

    DISCOVER LUCOCOA

    Damson

    Damson ChocolateNext is a maker very close to our heart. Before launching Damson Chocolate, Dom Ramsey was a prolific chocolate blogger and founding member of the Cocoa Runners team. In his very first year, Dom received two awards for his chocolate at the Academy of Chocolate Awards, as well as a prestigious ‘One to Watch’ Award.

    Based in Islington’s Chapel Market Damson describes itself as ‘fanatical about quality’. Crafting bars in its modest Islington kitchen, every stage – from roasting the beans to wrapping the bars – is carried out with meticulous attention to detail. In celebration of the local area Dom even created a special dark chocolate, the Angel Bar.

    DISCOVER DAMSON

    Land

    Land ChocolateBased in Bethnal Green, Land is London’s latest exciting chocolate arrival. Land was founded in 2016 by Phil Landers. Phil was previously a radio producer, but looking for a change, he went travelling around Central America where he discovered cacao.

    Returning to London with his new-found passion, Phil trained with well-known chocolatier Paul. A. Young and then American chocolate makers Mast. Branching out by himself Phil is now crafting his own beautiful single-origin bars in an old furniture maker’s workshop. Currently a one-man show, he does everything himself, from hand-sorting his beans to hand-wrapping his bars.

    His packaging is as stylish as it is informative. On the back you can discover exactly where the beans for each bar have come from. Focusing on South and Central America, Phil is keen to explore lesser-known origins and create bars with more unusual profiles.

    DISCOVER LAND

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  • Jan 09
    How to taste chocolate

    How To Taste Chocolate

    By Angelica Ottaway  ·  The World of Chocolate

    We believe chocolate and wine have a lot in common. As with the finest wines, in order to really get the best out of our craft bars you need to know how to taste chocolate properly. It’s not just about  satisfying your sweet tooth, but uncovering the complex flavours of the cocoa beans that have been lovingly coaxed out by the artisan chocolate maker.

    Just as the altitude, climate and soil will affect the grapes in a fine wine, the same factors can affect the flavour of the cocoa beans in your chocolate bar. Combined, these different environmental factors are known as the ‘terroir’. The finest wines are created when the finest grapes are in the hands of a talented vitner (or wine maker).  And the same is true for chocolate. When the best cocoa beans are given to a skilled maker who takes the time to hand craft every stage from bean to bar, you find yourself with a chocolate that deserves to be savoured. And in order to truly savour these fine bars you first should learn how to taste chocolate!

    There’s just one problem for the chocolate aficionado in training. While whole books have been written about how best to enjoy a fine wine, very little has been written about how to enjoy a bar of chocolate.  Most of us reach for a chocolate bar for a mid-afternoon pick me up and end up eating it without much thought.  But when a maker has taken the time to directly source their beans, and painstakingly draw out their flavours, we think the same care should be taken when eating it.

    Here at Cocoa Runners, we spend our lives running around the world, trying to find the very best chocolate bars. We have tasted a ever-growing number of chocolate bars. Of the thousands we’ve tasted we only choose the very best to put on our site. So after years of practice we wanted to share our top tips on how to taste chocolate.

    Before you read on remember, eating chocolate should always be a pleasure and never a chore. We want to help you get the most out of your fine craft chocolate, but don’t overthink it!

    1. Look at the bar. Carefully take the bar out of its packaging and take a long hard look. Is it shiny and glossy, or does it have a dusty white powder on the surface?  The white powder is the fat in the bar, that has risen to its surface.  This normally happens when a bar has melted and reset, and is a sign that it hasn’t been properly stored.  This is particularly true of dark chocolate. While a little bloom on the surface shouldn’t affect the flavour, you might need to let it melt in your mouth for a little longer.
    1. Break off a piece.  What sound does the bar make and how does it feel when you break it? Does it break with a nice clean snap, or does it crumble?  As well as a wonderfully glossy finish, a well tempered bar should break with ease. A snap that is either too brittle or too soft again suggests that bar either wasn’t stored at the correct temperature or the bar wasn’t properly tempered. Tempering is the process by which chocolate is melted and then set into a chocolate bar at just the right temperature.
    1. Hold the bar for a second.  Does it start to melt?  Artisan chocolate bars contain cocoa butter, and this melts quickly at body temperature.  Most mainstream bars start to crumble and flake into a sticky mess instead of melting smoothly.  This is because of a trick used by many mainstream chocolate makers. They separate the cocoa powder from the cocoa butter and sell it off to the cosmetics industry for use in moisturisers, lipsticks, etc, then replace it with cheaper fats that don’t have the same wonderfully smooth melt.
    1. Smell the bar.  Can you smell citrus, berries, nuts or something else?  As we’ve said, tasting chocolate is like tasting a fine wine. When tasting wine, its standard practice to swirl you drink round in your glass before inhaling deeply.  A good proportion of the flavours in any food or drink comes from their aroma.  A wealth of aromas are released the moment you unwrap a craft chocolate bar. In the same way that swirling your wine helps to release the aroma, holding the piece in your hand (see above) will begin to heat the chocolate slightly, releasing it smell.
    1. Put a piece on your tongue and let it melt, taking care not to chew.  As it melts, different layers of flavour will reveal themselves.A rich Dominican bar might start with a roasted, chocolate ganache note that develops to leave an earthy finish. Or the initial berry notes of a Madagascan chocolate transform into a citrus note.
    1. Enjoy. Eating chocolate should always be a pleasure. These tips on how to taste chocolate should help you get the most out of your artisan chocolate. If you can’t taste the flavours other people have described then don’t worry, as taste is subjective. And remember, the more chocolate you taste, the more your palate will develop.

    All told, there are over 400 distinct flavour compounds in chocolate, more than enough to keep even the keenest cocoa bean interested. Not only is taste extremely subjective,  it’s influenced by everything you’ve eaten and drunk throughout the day.  The same chocolate eaten by itself will taste very different when it is matched with a suitable fine wine.

    Now you know how to taste chocolate, take a look at how artisan chocolate is made. See our page about it here.

  • Oct 09

    New Craft Chocolate As Seen On Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch

    By Cocoa Runners  ·  In The Press, New Products, Site News

    [vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]On Sunday 10 October, Cocoa Runners co-founder Spencer returned to Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch to share four of the newest & most exciting craft chocolate bars in the Cocoa Runners Library. Click here to buy the full collection or read on to explore the individual craft chocolate bars for yourself.

     

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    Original Beans – Cru Udzungwa 70%

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]

    Original Beans Cru Udzungwa

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]First is a brand new addition from Original Beans. Its Cru Udzungwa dark chocolate has been crafted using beans from the edge of Udzungwa Mountain National Park in Tanzania. Locals grow the cacao trees in special village gardens. This gives locals a good source of income and thus supports local communities and their stewardship of Udzungwa National Park which is home to a number of endangered species, including African elephants.

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    Georgia Ramon – Philippinen 80%

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]Philipinen Black 80

     

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    Next is a Georgia Ramon’s Philippinen 80% bar. Cocoa Runner’s first German maker, the company was founded by Georg Bernadini and his partner Ramona Gustman. Georg has worked in the chocolate industry for over 20 years and has now put his years of knowledge and experience working for others to good use. The beans are sourced directly from the Puentespina family in the Philippines.

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    Luisa Abram – 70%

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]Luisa Abram 70%

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    Then travel to the Amazon with Luisa Abram’s 70% dark chocolate bar. Luisa and her father Andre travel up through the Brazilian rainforests and up the Amazon river looking for rare cocoa beans and long-forgotten or undiscovered varietals. They buy their beans directly from the local communities who harvest, ferment and dry the beans. These are then shipped down-river to Luisa’s workshop where she transforms the precious cacao into incredible chocolate!

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    Chocolat Bonnat – Javan Dark Milk

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    Finally we have a decadent Chocolat Bonnat Javan Dark Milk from one France’s oldest chocolate makers. Chocolat Bonnat has been crafting chocolate in Voiron, France for over 130 years. The company is currently headed by the sixth generation of Bonnat chocolatiers Stephane Bonnat. Javan cacao has a particularly fine flavour and the island’s cocoa trees are believed to trace their roots all the way back to Venezuela.

    Buy Now

    [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]Click here to buy the full collection or discover the individual craft chocolate bars for yourself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

  • Sep 19
    Menakao Cocoa Nibs

    What Are Cocoa Nibs?

    By Cocoa Runners  ·  New Products, Site News

    There has been a lot of buzz about cocoa nibs recently, but what exactly are they?

    Everyone knows that craft chocolate is made directly from the cocoa bean. But did you know that these cocoa beans are a delicious treat all by themselves?

    Cacao nibs are pieces of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. Once roasted, winnowed and cracked the nibs are generally made into chocolate. But these crunchy bits of cocoa nib can also be eaten just as they are. This is ‘chocolate’ at its purest – no added sugar, no milk, no flavourings and almost no processing. And just like the chocolate they are turned into, cocoa nibs have been shown to have many different nutritional benefits.

    Cocoa nibs naturally contain a significant amount of fibre (about 9g per ounce) as well as magnesium, potassium and more calcium than cow’s milk. Cocoa beans are a plant-based source of iron. On top of this cacao contain high levels of flavonoids, particularly epicatechin which studies have shown to have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health. Of course all this can also be said of chocolate, but without any added sugar or milk cocoa nibs are the best way to get these benefits.

    It’s not just about eating something that’s good for you however, it’s about eating something that tastes good. Cocoa nibs have a slightly nutty texture, comparable to cashews or macadamia nuts. The nibs aren’t as bitter as you might expect as the flavour is less intense and generally fruitier.

    Our Madagascan nibs by Menakao have a particularly pronounced fruity aroma with a roasted undernote. Sharp citrus mixes with orange and cranberries. The profile is similar to Menakao’s dark bars but with a raw, unprocessed edge: the same flavours are present but haven’t been focused and refined as in a bar.

    So what to do with these delicious and diverse cocoa nibs? Nibs are a wonderfully versatile cooking ingredient that you can use in both sweet and savoury dishes. Below we highlight some of our favourite ways to use cocoa nibs.

    1. Start your day with a crunch. Add a sprinkling of cocoa nibs to your morning porridge, giving it a little more texture and a roasted chocolatey note. For a deliciously fruity breakfast, why not use Menakao’s roasted nibs and add in a handful of dried fruit to bring out the beans’ own flavours.
    2. Bake to perfection. Described by some as ‘nature’s chocolate chip’ cocoa nibs can be added into cakes, cookies, biscuits, brownies, muffins and more! Cooking will soften the nibs a little but they’ll still retain some of their crunch. Remember that while the nibs are bursting with intense flavours, they’ve none of the added sugar that chocolate does. So you might need to adjust your recipe accordingly.
    3. Top everything. Don’t stop at porridge and baked goods. We think a liberal sprinkle of cocoa nibs can improve any number of dishes from your superfood smoothie, to yogurt and granola, to rice pudding or pancakes.
    4. Be bold. Chocolate might be regarded as a sweet treat, but nibs don’t have to be. Just like nuts and seeds cocoa nibs make a great addition to salads.
    5. A simple snack. Instead of munching on dried fruits or nuts, why not try a handful of cocoa nibs to keep you going throughout the day. Keep a little sachet by your desk for when you need a sugar-free chocolate fix.

    How do you use cocoa beans? Let us know your favourite recipes.

    Sources:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/02/cacao-nibs_n_3695571.html

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_bean#Health_benefits