We're making Chocolate - come visit our new Chocolate Manufactory

Posted on April 23, 2018 by Sophie Jewett

We're so excited to now be sharing our very own chocolate across the whole of our chocolate range. Everything is now crafted from our team directly from the Cocoa bean in our own Chocolate Manufactory York Cocoa Works.

I can't tell you how pleased I am to now be able to offer full transparency and insight into our chocolate making process. I believe as consumers we have the right to know what's in our foods and to demand better from our food manufacturers, that's why we've created a chocolate factory where you can see literally everything in the chocolate making process. I was so privileged to have grown up in the countryside, with access to amazing fruits and vegetables, I find I often take those flavours for granted and opt for price and convenience when choosing what to eat now.

Since I was a child many of my friends whose families grew up on local farms have since left the business, their farms have become visitor attractions or left the industry completely. We now grow things as a hobby, but few actually do for sustenance. I spoke to a former dairy farmer yesterday and he told me of the time he left the industry behind when the supermarkets started selling milk for less than he could afford to produce it.

Over the years I seem to have always found myself working with food and drink in one way or another. As a retailer, caterer, producer and now manufacturer. During that time I've seen our supply chains get longer and longer, with local farmers priced out of the market by large retailers and processors who move material by the pallet or container. During our own journey into chocolate it became increasingly challenging to learn what I felt we should be able to know about the chocolate we consume. I wanted to know where the beans came from, how they achieved the flavour they did, how the chocolate was made and what impact did our choices as consumers have on the world? 

As a teenager I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease, a condition that impacts an increasing number of young people each year. It's affected me in many ways character building ways over the years, from long periods in hospital, continual medical treatment, arthritis, osteoporosis and a continual eye on my diet. For a long period of time I consumed a liquid diet of raw amino acids, it made going out with friends a very interesting experience, eventually my stomach healed and for now I'm incredibly grateful for the care I received that means I've been in a long period of remission. I am however, left with an incredible sense of frustration at the extension of our supply chains. They have become so long and so sanitised that as consumers we lose all oversight as to what most of foods originally looked like. 

Today I met a fabulous fledgling chocolate maker, buying some amazing Bolivian beans to make his own chocolate at home. We talked about the first experience of making your own chocolate, when you haven't got a clue what you're doing, when you don't know what equipment to invest in so use your home oven and peeled every bean by hand. My first bar was really quite awful, but having de-shelled each bean personally I found an enormous sense of pride in creating something that I imagined quite impossible outside of a big factory. In fact that was something I have been told on many occasions over the last 8 years when I first said what I wanted to do. 

It's been a very interesting journey creating our chocolate manufactory. We've met so many people, some keen to tell us it can't be done, but so many others who have helped and supported along the way, they have shared their knowledge or invested in our vision. 

Our vision, remains as it was when we first started, for us, as consumers to have the right to know what's in our food and where our food comes from. If someone won't tell you then maybe it's time we go out there and make if for ourselves! 

So! We can now tell you that the Cocoa in our chocolate is grown by Juan Diego and his father Justiniano, amongst the farmers we are working with, we can tell you that our sugar is all from British Farmers and our milk ingredients come from Cheshire and Northern Ireland. I will have to leave it to you to tell me how it tastes, but as a devoted chocolate lover I hope you will trust me that if it wasn't any good we wouldn't be using it! 

Thank you everyone who has been part of this magical journey, York Cocoa Works is now open and looking forward to welcoming you. 

Sophie x