Last week we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast tasting with purveyors of beautiful, ethical chocolate, Original Beans.
The tasting was part of our supplier breakfast series, where the Cookery School team gets to meet and hear from one of our brilliant suppliers. We do this over a delicious breakfast before the kitchens get busy and students come in. Last week the team got to find out about the Original Beans ethos and ethical and regenerative approach to chocolate, an incredibly interesting and inspiring way to start the day!
The range of chocolate with so many wonderful flavours was so interesting and the chocolate was described by one of the team as ‘flavoured beautifully like fine wines’. One bar was made from a wild harvest from central America – an uncultivated wild cocoa tree which produced a very unique and strong flavour. Another bar was smoky, almost spicy in taste and this came from a Mexican cocoa bean which was actually grey in colour, almost unrecognisable as a cocoa bean!
After tasting some incredible flavours we started to talk about the need for a day-to-day chocolate for chocolate making with students of all abilities, a kind of workhorse chocolate and we discovered a couple of options that would appeal taste-wise to both dark and milk lovers as well as being suitable for tempering and moulding.
Despite the growth that Original Beans has seen over the years it has kept its sustainability credentials intact. With a poor reputation for sustainability across the chocolate industry, it feels very inspiring to find a brand that has such integrity. Sadly, we do not come across many chocolate brands that we feel comfortable working with. Currently we are testing and tasting the Original Beans chocolate in the Cookery School kitchen… more on that coming soon!
Far from the mass produced unsustainable chocolate that we consume regularly without thinking of the environmental and social consequences, Original Beans is crafting a luxury product that supports the communities and land where the beans are grown. The Virunga chocolate, for example, comes from cocoa beans grown in the Virunga National Park, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to the endangered mountain gorilla. Here, local women are taught to become cocoa growers, to farm in an agroforestry system that conserves trees and to support their communities, while being paid a sustainable income. The Femmes de Virunga [women of Virunga] bar promotes this initiative, just one of the many uplifting stories behind the bar and the brand.