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Meet the Maker Week – day 1

This week is #meetthemakerweek organised by @joannehawker in honour of #smallbusinesssaturday. I took part last year for the first time and I find it a brilliant way to give more insights into what I’m doing. So here we go.

Today’s prompt is: product or range.

I launched Little Beetle Chocolates last year as an experiment to retail British craft chocolates in my local community at village fairs and private tasting events. But I had this idea of a mixed craft chocolate advent calendar on my mind and I just couldn’t let go. In January, I had a moment when I knew, I have to do it now. So I reached out to the makers I knew to see how they respond. Everyone was so happy and enthusiastic about it, that I just kept going.

2018 was all about this small box filled with 24 different chocolates for me. There was no day spent without working on it in some way. It challenged me on so many levels, it taught me so many lessons (about planning, communication, negotiation, logistics, finances, administration, laws and regulations, limits and restrictions, and of course unexpected issues and happy surprises too).

This is the Taste.Better.Chocolate. Advent Calendar – limited edition.
I am so grateful for all the support that I’ve been getting from my Kickstarter backers, my IG followers and members of my FB group, and also anyone who heard about this project and sent me a message or ordered a calendar. It feels amazing to see posts from all around the world, connecting me to my virtual chocolate lover community through this unique product that I came up with, designed and put together.

This week, through these Meet the Maker posts you’ll be able to go a bit more behind the scenes with me on how this project came about. And on Saturday we’ll eat the first piece of chocolate! So exciting!

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What a ladybird has to do with chocolate

Welcome to my blog. I’m Lilla, a passionate chocolatier currently living in the UK. My goal with this blog is to share with you my passion for chocolate through my tasting experiences, chocolate shop visits, chocolate book reviews, chocolate recipes and some interesting facts about cacao and chocolate.

littlebeetle-cacao


Have you ever thought any of the following?

  • Dark chocolate is the devil’s confectionery, it always tastes bitter.
  • I’m not a “connoisseur” of chocolate. Why should I buy expensive craft chocolates if I can’t taste the difference anyway?
  • Craft chocolates are just a hype. These fancy companies just want to earn a lot of money.
  • Chocolate makes you fat, the rest is just good marketing.
  • I can easily eat a bar of chocolate when I’m in a bad mood. These “trendy” craft chocolates are just too expensive for this.
  • I’m afraid to spend a lot of money on craft chocolates and later find out that I don’t like them.
  • I only buy Fairtrade chocolates. Many of these craft bars aren’t even certified and still cost more.
  • I have a food-intolerance to gluten/dairy/nuts/egg/soya etc. or I am vegetarian/vegan. I don’t know whether I can eat these chocolates or not.

If you have answered yes to any of the above statements, then you are in the right place. In this blog, my aim is to help you find answers to your questions related to the chocolate industry.

In this blog, I will help you:

Discover a wide range of craft chocolates from around the world

It’s normal that you feel overwhelmed when you first look at the wide offer of craft chocolates available on the market. This is a booming industry at the moment, and it can seem difficult to find the right chocolates for your own taste. Through my detailed tasting notes and descriptions, I will show you everything that I can about the chocolate in question, from packaging to aftertaste and even things like interviews with the makers, information about stockists, price range and other tasters’ opinions. So, you’ll be able to make an informed choice, and have a higher chance to really like what you will taste.

finechocs

Appreciate the different flavours in chocolate and learn how to describe them

When this whole craft chocolate movement started, and I read tasting notes on the packaging of some chocolate bars, I thought the same as you. Seriously? Dark cherries, malt, caramel, red berries, citrus, hazelnut, even things like mushrooms or leather?! No way! This is only a bar of chocolate. Isn’t this just a hype like wine tastings? They just want to make big money by putting fancy words on their packaging.

And then, I compared some widely available chocolates with craft chocolates. And I thought: “Wait a second. There is lemon in this. It tastes like a hazelnut spread. It’s like a handful of sour cherries.” Or simply: “This tastes different than the chocolates I know.” Even if the ingredient list ended after two items (cocoa mass and sugar).

tastingkit

I will show you how to use your senses to get the most out of your chocolate tasting experience, how to take notes and use visual aids like flavour wheels or tasting cards. You will see how complex the flavour development of chocolate is, what are the defining factors. I will guide you through different tasting exercises like comparisons and blind tastings. And let me tell you some good news: the more chocolate you taste, the better your tasting experience will become over time.

Understand what is “bean to bar”

Until about 6 years ago, I didn’t even know where chocolate comes from. It’s not something we normally learn in school. Maybe because the kinds of chocolates I used to eat on a day-to-day basis were far from what they could be when treated properly so that their amazing values can shine through. This blog will give you information about the origins of chocolate, short history episodes (believe me, nothing boring!), a bit of science, and insights into the different stages of cacao processing from the cacao tree to the packaged bar you are about to open up.

beantobar

See behind the scenes of the chocolate industry

You are puzzled by the price difference you see between a supermarket’s own branded bar of chocolate and the so-called artisan creations. You’ve heard that child labour, unfair wages and environmental challenges, growing Asian markets are some of the reasons behind higher chocolate prices. Some people even predict a chocolate shortage as soon as 2020.

I will give you insights into the chocolate industry’s mechanisms so that you can better understand how things work. And more importantly, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which chocolate to buy if you care for the environmental and socio-economic aspects of cacao farming, and you want to make sure that even your great-grand-children will be able to taste chocolate as you know it.

raisethebar

Understand health-related information about chocolate, including allergens

Almost every week there is an article popping up on the Internet saying that “Chocolate is good for you” or “Eating chocolate can save you from a heart attack”. Let me do the research for you, and present you with the latest results about chocolate. I explain everything you need to know about ingredients in chocolate, cheaper substitutes or special-diet alternatives.

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About Lilla

cacaotree

I’m a passionate chocolatier currently living in Cambridge (United Kingdom) with my husband and our son (born in 2016). Even though I’ve always loved chocolate, it was only 6 years ago, when I first saw a chocolatier in action. I was at a chocolate festival and a lady was tempering chocolate on a tiny marble slab, and she made small white chocolate hearts with a lemon-strawberry filling. I was hooked and asked her how she became chocolatier. A few months later I was in her chocolate kitchen learning how to temper chocolate and make different kinds of small chocolates and pralines. But I still haven’t had much of a clue about chocolate, until I started working in a small chocolate shop as a sales assistant. From then on, I dedicated most of my time to read and learn about this incredible world that surrounds cacao and chocolate. Then I was promoted to full-time chocolatier and chocolate course presenter. I even had the opportunity to get training in the atelier of a chocolate shop in Brussels and I took several courses run by École Chocolat simultaneously.

I love eating chocolate, I love talking about chocolate and I love meeting chocolatiers and chocolate makers. And I would like to share this CHOCOLATE LOVE with you through my blog and encourage you to immerse yourself into this wonderful CHOCOLATE WORLD.

P.S.: Why “Little Beetle”? That’s the nickname my mother gave me as a child and because ladybirds are cute. Totally nothing to do with chocolate, but hey! 🙂