Great Taste Producer
It's rewards, appreciation and a few awards which keep the fuel going in the tank with the challenges of running your own business. So to get to be an official Great Taste Producer is one of these moments.
The Great Taste Awards (GTA) have been running for more years than I have been trading (and that's 10!) than I can remember. It's now a recognised Award body among retailers; both here in the UK and globally.
We are lucky to have been winning Awards with GTA since 2008 (the first were my handmade truffles which I made from home and were inspired by keeping the fat content lower so I could eat a load with minimal guilt and also from a quick course at Valrhona in 2007). Until the end of 2009 every chocolate creation was made by myself. How, I have no idea, as I only had a 5 day course from Valrhona under my belt!
Our New Colombian Chocolate
Last year I made the decision to change the bar range to Colombian couverture (chocolate). This meant back to the drawing board to re-win the Awards I had accrued (your slate is wiped clean if you change your base). BUT the most important thing was it meant I could talk confidently to buyers and consumers that the Colombian company I was buying from was strictly upholding ethical and sustainable standards. And well, I fell in love with the Colombian people, their culture and their land.
I put my boots on and went exploring; it was absolute heaven. Though much of the trip was travelling by road it was a tad nerve-wracking too! I visited cocoa farmers and their plantations. I also stayed at the training school where the company actively encourage individuals who have been involved in the cocaine industry to switch to cocoa; the plant of peace. Here they also educate existing cocoa farmers to grow and harvest their plants/pods/beans in the most effective, efficient way.
At the tip of Colombia (very close to the Panama border) I stayed at their trial sustainability plantation. It was encouraging and fascinating and VITAL.
A treat was to visit the schools the Colombian company support. The children were just gorgeous and full of spirit.
At the end of the trip was my initiation to see chocolate being made from 'bean to bar' on a large scale in the factory in Bogota.
When you buy a bar of our chocolate you are not only helping Colombian cocoa farmers but also Colombian milk, vanilla, soya and sugar farmers too. To add to this you are also maximising revenue for a developing country with the couverture (chocolate) being made in Bogota.
We also support the UK economy as our production is based in the North of England and our packaging is produced in the Midlands. Here is Martin, the chocolate wizard, who is in charge of Chocolate Production.