A Q&A With Coco Chocolatier Posted on 27 Sep 13:56
I liked all chocolate to be honest, like I imagine most kids do. I remember preferring dark chocolate to milk from a very young age, but no specific brand comes to mind.
How did you become a chocolatier?
I was working in the Fire Service in Edinburgh when COCO became available. I knew the brand and liked it’s creative aspects. I could see its potential and I was intrigued by what I could do with it - both in matters of coming up with artistic solutions to packaging, as well as finding new ethical ways of sourcing chocolate.
What is your favourite flavour combination?
It varies. Coming up with new chocolate recipes is a great part of the job! We all work very closely as a team and each one of us has a different take on flavours. At the moment, my favourite chocolate in our range is the Isle of Skye Sea Salt & Lime Milk Chocolate Bar. The sea salt from the Isle of Skye complements the lime tones perfectly. I find it quite addictive.
What is the most important element in the chocolate making process for you?
Chocolate is a very technical food. Temperature is critical, and in that sense I would say it’s probably the most important aspect of chocolate-making. Our chocolatiers are checking temperature points all throughout the process. Chocolate has melting points - typically above 45 degrees. This means that once you melt above that certain point the crystals inside the chocolate separate and the chocolate becomes very fluid. We cool the chocolate from 45 to 31 degrees, which pulls all the chocolate back together so that when it sets it creates a snap improved shelf quality and avoids the fats and sugars blooming. It’s a very complex process and needs to be done correctly.
How do you find inspiration for your ranges and products?
There are so many aspects to product development. The product needs to work for us, as we produce most of our range in-house, but it also needs to work for our customers. When we develop a new product it’s very much a collaborative effort between our team and the artists we work with. We work with artists whose work we truly admire, those artists who stick out from the crowd and are producing unique art. At the same time, we do our best to be innovative with the ingredients we select too, in order to create chocolate recipes that have a special flavour.
What do you use to track and plan your work and product development?
We are a fairly small team so we keep each other in the loop through scheduling regular meetings with each department manager. We also use project management tools to keep track of project’s progress.
What tip would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself that running a business is very stressful, but also incredibly rewarding. When things go wrong - which happens often - it’s an absolute nightmare, but when we all pull together as a team and manage to overcome issues it’s a great feeling.
What do you like to do when you are not making chocolate?
I’m very fortunate to live in Edinburgh. The city has a lot to offer in matters of arts and culture - although not much has been allowed to happen over the past year, it’s great to see Edinburgh come back to life. I also enjoy the countryside and try to make the most out of the beautiful Scottish outdoors whenever I can.
What are you working on next?
We recently moved to a new facility at Port Edgar Marina, in South Queensferry. It’s a beautiful building by the water, overlooking the bridges. We are refurbishing it with a view to open a visitor experience centre later in the year. We have been working on this project for the past year and can’t wait to welcome our first visitors!