Meet James from J.Cocoa

Written by in Meet The Makers on .

                        

Tell us a little bit about yourself. (Who you are, where you are from and a little bit about you and what you do in your spare time.)

I am James, 26 years old, and live in the south coast of England in a small town called Hassocks, 10 minutes’ drive/train from the very busy and vibrant Brighton, where I like to go and meet friends and family for drinks or a meal at the many cool restaurants, or even spend time at the beach (if it's warm enough...)

With starting my small chocolate business this summer I haven’t had much spare time, but I like to go cycling and skateboarding, I play guitar, and I am also attempting to keep alive my own Bonsai tree. I must admit though, that most of my spare time gets used up maintaining/re-building my classic mini cooper. I sometimes think it is more of a full time job and I am fighting a losing battle with rust, but I love it anyway and it is the most fun car to drive.

And more than anything....I love food! Finding out about processes behind it, making it, and of course, eating it.


What do you make? (tell us about ingredients or production methods)

I make Bean To Bar Chocolate, which essentially means that I make chocolate directly from the cocoa beans. It is a quite a rare craft here with only about 10 makers or so within the UK (one of which is Cadbury's), and you would be surprised at how few of UK chocolate companies actually make their own chocolate, even the big brands.

The process from cocoa pod to packaged chocolate bar is a long, complicated, but rewarding journey.

It all starts with the genetics of the cocoa, without good genes, you won't get great chocolate. There are 3 main types of Cocoa: FORASTERO, these are the most common representing about 85% of the market. Hardy nature and produce large yields of beans, however they are not known for great flavour. CRIOLLO, very rare beans representing only 2-3% of the worlds cocoa market. The pods produce very small amounts of beans but they are of superior quality and flavour complexity. TRINITARIO came into existence following the near-destruction of Trinidad's Criollo plantations by a hurricane in 1727. Forastero seeds were brought from Venezuela and cross-fertilised with the native Criollo beans resulting in the Trinitario. These beans only represent around 12% of the market and are considered to be of much higher quality than Forastero, and has the benefits of having a higher yield and more disease resistant than the Criollo trees.

Once the pods are ready they are harvested from the trees and split open to reveal the cocoa beans inside. The beans are then fermented creating unique flavours. They are washed and then dried under the hot south American sun, being turned every so often. The beans get bagged up and shipped out. When they arrive to me I begin crafting the beans into fine chocolate.

It starts with roasting the cocoa beans, this not only kills of any bacteria, but also develops a deep chocolate flavour and aroma. Once cooled the roasted beans are then cracked to reveal the nibs inside which are what will be used to create the chocolate. The loose shells are then separated from the nibs by winnowing. With the remaining cocoa nibs I stone grind them, squeezing the cocoa butter from within creating a smooth chocolatey liquid. Sugar, cocoa butter and milk powder are added and then the chocolate mix is Conched for days, sometimes up to a week! And only finishes when it is ready and delicious. The chocolate is then left to set and age/mature for at least a month giving all the flavours time to marry up and mellow out.

The chocolate is then re-melted and hand tempered on a marble slab before molding into bars, this produces a high shine and the iconic snap that great quality chocolate has.

I only add Organic ingredients to my chocolate, and use only 3 ingredients in my Origin Dark Bars (cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar), and only 4 ingredients in my Origin Milk Bars (cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and milk). I never use emulsifiers like lecithin's, and strongly believe that for great chocolate, Less Is More.

                       

Could you tell us how it all began ? ( what’s your journey been to get here)

'Well how hard can it be?' was the far too casual approach I had when starting my chocolate making project.

I quickly realised that there was a lot more involved in making chocolate from the cocoa beans, and could now see why so few people in the UK actually bother to do it.

I have made more errors than not, but they say you learn from your mistakes, and learning I certainly am.

It is a very complex time consuming process, and by changing one small aspect within it will yield a completely different end product, which at times has been a nightmare. But I love it!

What began as a simple side project, started to consume me as my passion for the craft grew.

With almost a year's worth of practicing, research, taste tests and trials (by my more than willing friends and family) the chocolate I was producing was proving popular.

I had always loved the idea of trying to make a business from it, so in July 2015 I launched J.Cocoa, and now cannot wait for everyone to try my Handmade Bean To Bar Artisan Chocolate produced in my very little chocolate factory in West Sussex.

Why do you do what you do? (what your philosophy)

I do it because I love it, and I want others to enjoy what I make.

I don't have a philosophy as such, however I do want to help bring the bean to bar craft and real chocolate back to the UK. Allow people to learn about the amazing process that goes into chocolate making, the differences between the unique flavours of the different cocoa varieties, and maybe find their new favourite chocolate. I feel that too long we have been saturated with a few big brand chocolate producers, so much so that we have come to assume their chocolate is the standard and that's what chocolate should taste like. I want to show people that there is much more to chocolate!

 

I believe less is more when it comes to an ingredients list on food, and chocolate is no exception. I strive to keep sugar quantities down to a minimum in my chocolate bars whilst still creating a delicious product. I feel that far too much sugar and unnecessary added ingredients are used simply to make the process cheaper and to hide what may otherwise be a poor flavoured product.

Did anyone or anything inspire you to be creative?

Unfortunately I have never been especially creative in an artistic way like my brother and sister, but I have always loved making things. Finding out where things come from, how they are made, grown, produced, or built and then attempting it myself, not always with success.

My Dad is a massive inspiration for me when I design and build pieces of equipment. He has always been very hands on with creating and building things, especially around the house. He is never shy of a challenge, never gives up, and always makes it look so easy!

If I get my practical inspiration from my Dad, then I certainly get my creativity and love for food from my Mum. She is never frightened to try something new and totally different. She is very creative and has a good eye for what looks great, which has been unbelievably helpful when creating packaging, colours, logos etc, the list goes on.

Both my parents are a huge inspiration for showing me to try new things, take on challenges and to never give up. All my family have been hugely supportive, for which I cannot thank them enough.


Could you tell us how it all began ? ( what’s your journey been to get here)

'Well how hard can it be?' was the far too casual approach I had when starting my chocolate making project.

I quickly realised that there was a lot more involved in making chocolate from the cocoa beans, and could now see why so few people in the UK actually bother to do it.

I have made more errors than not, but they say you learn from your mistakes, and learning I certainly am.

It is a very complex time consuming process, and by changing one small aspect within it will yield a completely different end product, which at times has been a nightmare. But I love it!

What began as a simple side project, started to consume me as my passion for the craft grew.

With almost a year's worth of practicing, research, taste tests and trials (by my more than willing friends and family) the chocolate I was producing was proving popular.

I had always loved the idea of trying to make a business from it, so in July 2015 I launched J.Cocoa, and now cannot wait for everyone to try my Handmade Bean To Bar Artisan Chocolate produced in my very little chocolate factory in West Sussex.

 

Why do you do what you do? (what your philosophy)

I do it because I love it, and I want others to enjoy what I make.

I don't have a philosophy as such, however I do want to help bring the bean to bar craft and real chocolate back to the UK. Allow people to learn about the amazing process that goes into chocolate making, the differences between the unique flavours of the different cocoa varieties, and maybe find their new favourite chocolate. I feel that too long we have been saturated with a few big brand chocolate producers, so much so that we have come to assume their chocolate is the standard and that's what chocolate should taste like. I want to show people that there is much more to chocolate!

 

I believe less is more when it comes to an ingredients list on food, and chocolate is no exception. I strive to keep sugar quantities down to a minimum in my chocolate bars whilst still creating a delicious product. I feel that far too much sugar and unnecessary added ingredients are used simply to make the process cheaper and to hide what may otherwise be a poor flavoured product.

Did anyone or anything inspire you to be creative?

Unfortunately I have never been especially creative in an artistic way like my brother and sister, but I have always loved making things. Finding out where things come from, how they are made, grown, produced, or built and then attempting it myself, not always with success.

My Dad is a massive inspiration for me when I design and build pieces of equipment. He has always been very hands on with creating and building things, especially around the house. He is never shy of a challenge, never gives up, and always makes it look so easy!

If I get my practical inspiration from my Dad, then I certainly get my creativity and love for food from my Mum. She is never frightened to try something new and totally different. She is very creative and has a good eye for what looks great, which has been unbelievably helpful when creating packaging, colours, logos etc, the list goes on.

Both my parents are a huge inspiration for showing me to try new things, take on challenges and to never give up. All my family have been hugely supportive, for which I cannot thank them enough.

Last update: Nov 17, 2015

Comments

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Verification code