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Amelia

Anything you want to know about Amelia Rope Chocolate, here’s the place. Ask anything: she’ll answer it. We’ve kicked it off for you.

WHERE DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR FANTASTIC FLAVOURS?

My culinary training, my knowledge of aromatherapy, my head, my reliable olfactory system – and travel. Recent trips to Colombia, Japan and Mauritius have brought a heap of ideas for new recipes. It’s my favourite part of the entire process!

IS ALL YOUR CHOCOLATE FROM COLOMBIA?

For all the bars, yes.

The cocoa beans are all from cooperatives across Colombia.  Critically it’s all grown from bean to the ‘couverture’ stage in Colombia from 100% local ingredients (milk, sugar, vanilla, soya lecithin), maximising the economic benefit and, as a bonus, bringing a fantastic silky finish to the end product.

TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR FARMERS.

The Chocolate House that represents the growers has been family-run since 1906, and these days encourages farmers who were involved in the cocaine industry to switch to growing cocoa. I’ve travelled to meet cocoa farmers supplying the beans, visited the sorting and grading facility, stayed on the experimental planation near Panama, visited the schools set up for the farmers’ children and stayed at the training school. I wrote a piece for the Daily Telegraph on one of my trips to Colombia, all the good cocoa is doing and, most importantly, the supreme quality of its product – all tended by hand and treated to a passionate grower’s love and attention. Having fallen in love with the country, the people and their product, I was convinced.

HOW ABOUT YOUR KERNELS? AND WHILE WE’RE ABOUT IT, WHAT ARE THEY?

Kernels is the name we’ve chosen for all three covered nuts – where the shell is replaced with something far more edible and worthy of the quality it covers.

The hazelnuts are roasted Spanish ones, dipped in dark chocolate and dusted in cocoa powder. The Marcona almonds (known as Catanies in Spain) are traditional Catalan specialities, and are lovingly coated in white chocolate then finished with either a dusting of Canary Island sea salt or passion fruit. They are produced in Catalonia in small batches, to our specification, by a small family business. Some say they are superior to chocolates. We couldn’t possibly comment.

BEYOND THE CHOCOLATE ITSELF, WHAT ELSE DO YOU USE?

The oils used for many of my flavours are aromatherapy oils (all food-grade, naturally). As a previously qualified aromatherapist I adore the unadulterated essence. Countries of origin are covered in the titles – see the Shop section.

The Sea Salt comes from the salt beds on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex where I walked a lot as a child - and still do when I have time to return to my parents. I originate from the village of Layer Marney, very near Maldon, so could hardly look elsewhere!

The salt in the Catanies is sea salt from the Canaries.

COOL BARCODE. IS THAT AN ACTUAL CHOCOLATE TREE?

Thanks! We like it too. Sadly the pods don’t grow exactly like that on cacao trees, but back in the 1600s when chocolate first came to Europe people thought they did – so that’s how they drew them (in our case with added butterfly and hummingbird!).

The tree is an etching from the period, found by my designer Anna, who also had the idea to turn its roots into the barcode. I think it’s brilliant to connect the product on sale to the soil it comes from – even though that’s not actually how it grows.

 

YOUR CHOCOLATE IS LOVELY, BUT DO YOU REALLY GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR?

Absolutely. I don’t make massive margins. Chocolate like mine costs A LOT to find, source and create. I trade fairly and pay premium prices for a premium product – over twice as much as others. The batches are boutique-sized, the process slow and painstaking and the results highly distinctive. That’s why I package it as I do: it deserves it.

Other, cheaper chocolates are available. Ours is, to adapt a phrase, reassuringly dear.

YOUR PACKAGING FEELS APPROPRIATELY EXPENSIVE...

Afraid so. What can I say? It’s important to me that it’s from sustainable sources and UK-produced as far as possible. It also has to look completely fantastic, so a) it does justice to the fabulous contents; b) stores are happy to stock it; c) it catches your attention and d) you’re proud to give it away to someone special.