I’m a huge fan of chocolate so you can imagine my delight when Rosie asked if I’d like to come with her to interview the lovely ladies at cocoa, plus I was in need of some good chocolate and cocoa is definitely my favourite chocolate shop in sheffield – I blogged about it a while back too.
Even the outside of Cocoa is enticing and thats before you enter to smell the gorgeous sweet chocolate inside! We greet Kate and Anne and they kindly offer us some more tea and show us to their wonderful little tea room at the back of the shop. We sit down and they then offer us some chocolate…me and Rosie exchange glances with a huge grin on our faces and say “yes please!”
We are then presented with six praline chocolates and six fruity chocolates! These are seriously good.
They tell us about way back when they first bought the shop and also their trip to Grenada to a see chocolate being made. Their stories were helped with the addition of photo albums and it was all very fascinating to hear.
After a relaxing hour or so I buy a few things – A couple of chocolate bars and a cute tea strainer for my new tea and we head on our way back home.
Rosie: After the delicious chocolates (pictured) arrived I had to admit to the lovely proprietors Anne and Kate that I am not a huge ‘chocolate fan’ – certainly not in the way Komal is. They laughed and understood that I have more of a savoury than sweet tooth – nevertheless the chocolates I had (a wonderful nutty praline and chocolate fudge) were fantastic and definitely of the higher quality variety that I prefer over cheap milk chocolate.
The most interesting parts of the visit for me were the scrapbooks and discussions we had around their experiences with the shop.
Anne and Kate were working at Cocoa’s previous guise whilst studying at university when the previous owner announced she was selling up. The girls took a gamble and started doing up the shop themselves on a pretty tight budget and a lot of vision!
In the years that followed, the shop expanded into the back room and upstairs and has become the pastel painted wonderland you see before you. I was very impressed with their ambition.
Even more interesting was their ‘chocolate mission’ to Grenada in the Caribbean to meet the growers and producers of their bestselling chocolate bars. Another scrapbook explained that, unusually, the chocolate goes from bean to bar on the same site, whereas usually the roasted beans are shipped to Europe or America where they are then refined into the sweet stuff we enjoy here. Because of this the workers conditions are generally very high, and regulated by the economy on the small island, rather than by the international market. Whilst politically (as a trade unionist) this model isn’t the optimum one I would strive for, I was impressed that it was rather an improvement on some of the ‘Fair Trade’ production that is carried out internationally. Kate explained that the chocolate workers are very well respected on the island and chocolate is a major export.
Later, my mum and Gran (who is a self-confessed chocaholic) tried some of their extra-thick hot chocolate, made with real melted chocolate and cream, and served with a jug of steamed milk so the customer can make it to the thickness they require. Pretty extreme – like a chocolate meal in a glass!
I had some of their loose-leaf Earl Grey tea – two pots in fact. After this and our trip to Teabox I felt a littled tea-ed out for the day!
Thanks to the wonderful women at Cocoa for an excellent welcome and a great chat all about their shop. We’ll definitely be back soon for another trip, and I do believe I might have been converted back on to chocolate!