Posts Tagged ‘Nottingham University’

Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate

January 18, 2020

It is not every day I visit a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, craft beer brewery and a coffee roastery all in one day.

I was on my way to Sneinton Market, an area of Nottingham I had not visited before, to find Blend, a coffee shop.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street from Wired. The further I walked down the street the seedier it became.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes. Though I did pop in Bookwise on the way. Never miss up the opportunity to look in a second hand bookshop.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting a vibrant market something like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses and start ups by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed. And the area was dead, literally no one about.

And that was how I happened upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown of Sneinton Market.

I popped in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

In the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery. Something of a disappointment as a coffee shop, and an abysmal failure if to showcase the coffee roastery.

It is then back to Luisa’s. An interesting conversation on chocolate ensued.

I had tasted samples earlier. Another taste. Each one better than before. In essence it is wow. Mind blowing chocolate. I have never before tasted such exquisite chocolate, though I have yet to try Bullion or Bare Bones from The Steam Yard. One fruity, maybe cherry like, another more citrus. Mind blowing flavours. The last one I tried, as I hold it in my mouth, the flavour intensifies.

These are not added flavours, these are the intrinsic flavours of the chocolate. This is what chocolate should taste like, not like Cadbury’s.

A coffee analogy, coffee does not taste like the vile tasting undrinkable coffee served in Costa or Starbuck’s.

Specialty coffee has more flavour notes than red wine, chocolate more flavour notes than specialty coffee.

Why is the chocolate expensive? Why is red wine more expensive than plonk? Why does specialty coffee attract a higher price than catering supply commodity coffee?

We pay for quality. Wine from a vineyard, a chateau, a year, attracts a higher price than wine in a carton, the vineyard or chateau on the label.

The terroir affects what grows, what we drink, what we eat.

Commodity coffee, commodity chocolate, is quite literally that, a commodity, the price determined on commodity markets.

Fair Trade attracts a tiny premium, barely worth the effort, a marketing scam to make Middle Class shoppers feel good, but maintains farmers in poverty as there is no incentive for them to improve.

Direct trade, coffee roasteries are prepared to pay a premium for quality, they work in partnership with the growers to help improve quality.

The same is now happening in chocolate, single origin, direct trade, relationships with the farmers and growers.

After becoming an apprentice, I embarked on a journey of chocolate discovery. The whole experience of making chocolate from the raw cocoa bean to chocolate was captivating. It was fascinating to learn that each cacao bean has a completely different taste profile dependent on the terroir (soil, temperature, humidity, flora & fauna) and good farming practices. All these conditions plus the way the cacao bean is fermented plays an integral part in the end taste of the chocolate we eat and enjoy. Creating super premium chocolate is ‘all about the bean’. Without super premium beans to start, we can’t do our magic.

Bean-to bar starts at the farm.

Chocolate is rooted in the terroir, bean-to-bar chocolate makers have their fingers figuratively if not literally in the soil.

Luisa Vicinanza-Bedi has her fingers in the soil, she works in partnership with three female cacao farmers in Colombia.

She is also working in partnership with Future Food at University of Nottingham to analyse the microbes that form part of the fermentation of cacao beans to better understand how the flavours are produced.


  • cocoa mass – sugar – vanilla
  • cocoa mass – cocoa butter – sugar – vanilla

The purists will not allow vanilla, others say ok if enhances the quality of the chocolate. A moot point.

Always check the list of ingredients.

Quality chocolate will be bean-to-bar. Anything that is not bean-to-bar paying a lot of money for someone to buy in chocolate and turn into bars.

Always check the list of ingredients when buying what pertains to be quality chocolate. Is it bean-to-bar, direct trade?  Have cheap additives been added?

Soy destroys rain forests, likely to be gmo, most probably unless organic, sprayed with glyphosate. It could be worse. it could be palm oil. Green and Black chocolate is padded out with palm oil. Emulsifiers are used instead of cocoa butter. Why, because it is cheaper.

EU permits emulsifiers, USA does not.

Chocolate, high quality single origin bean-to bar chocolate has many subtle flavours, no quality chocolate maker would dream of adding additives. This would be akin to adding syrups to a good coffee.

And never be taken in by a black Great Taste award. It gets plastered on everything. It is absolutely no guarantee of quality. It may be on a quality product, but as likely not.

Luisa Vicinanza-Bedi has collected several awards for her chocolate, including the coveted Academy of Chocolate Gold award.

On display Cacao, a Standart clone, instead of coffee culture chocolate.

I suggested talk to Ideas on Paper to stock.

%d bloggers like this: