A gathering in the world of chocolate

28 November 2012
Sophi meets one of her brand heros - Boyd Tunnock

Sophi meets one of her brand heros – Boyd Tunnock

It’s good to have a forum where everyone in the chocolate business can get together and share knowledge and discuss issues. So it was great to be invited to speak at Kennedy’s Chocolate Network event – organised by Angus Kennedy, owner of Kennedy’s Confectionery magazine – fantastic to see a great mix of big and small in the audience – from Nestle & Barry Callebaut to Elizabeth Shaw and House of Dorchester.  Sophi Tranchell, Divine’s MD, agreed to talk about “Why should cocoa farmers carry on growing cocoa?” – a Divine perspective on what will incentivise a future generation of cocoa farmers, and how that is key to maintaining a supply of good cocoa in the future as demand for chocolate grows around the world.

It was inspiring to hear the stories from other independent companies like Willie’s Cacao (Willie Harcourt-Cooze told his story of the farm he bought in Venezuela) and the iconic Scottishbrand Tunnocks,  (Boyd Tunnock still runs the company which sells 5million of its famous caramel wafers every week, with a distribution to die for). You can hear the passion in their voices and total immersion in what they do.

The event finished with some startling psychological insights about the habits of different kinds of chocolate eater, and Angus Kennedy (dressed in a purple Willy Wonka coat with a chocolate flower pinned to the lapel) giving his predictions for 2013, ending with a reminder that chocolate enhances sexual stamina.  He said he himself has five children to prove it!

The best part was catching up with friends and colleagues – Malachy McReynolds from Elizabeth Shaw, bloggers MostlyAboutChocolate and Chocablog, sampling some fabulous hand-made chocolates made with California raisons by William Curley – and then best of all Sophi having her photo taken with brand hero Boyd Tunnock (who kissed her hand very gallantly and invited her to sail on his boat!). 

We went home very happily with a goodie bag containing a huge selection of chocolates – still exciting after all these years !

A Divine chocolate cruise to Bruges

23 November 2012

Divine’s Wendy Rowan reports on a Divine Trip to Bruges:

I’ve just had the pleasure in accompanying the winners of a Divine competition for students on a mini cruise to Bruges in Belgium.

Meeting at the P&O ferry

Meeting at the P&O ferry

We all met up at the P&O ferry port in Hull and boarded the Pride of Bruges. The 3 students and their companions had made their way from Leeds, Derby, London and Cambridge.

David, the Divine chocolatier, started the evening off with a fabulous presentation telling us about the history of cocoa & chocolate – how cocoa has been around for some 4000 years but used as a currency and as a drink. It’s only in the last 200 years that chocolate has been produced in bars and individual chocolates for us to enjoy.

We were also guided through the technique to taste chocolate using all 5 senses – the look of the chocolate, the smell & feel, the “snap” and the taste. With the Divine story, the benefits of Fairtrade and farmer-ownership highlighted everyone learnt why Divine is so divine.

Discovering the chocolate museum

Discovering the chocolate museum

Next morning we docked at Zeebrugge – (I discovered that means Bruges-by-the-sea) and after a short bus ride we were in the heart of the town. Bruges is beautiful, full of character, with stunning architecture, grandiose churches, bustling market squares, and tranquil meandering canals. We all went to visit the Choco-Story chocolate museum which brought to life all the history of cocoa & chocolate that we had been told by David the evening before.  What I loved the best was the room full of chocolate drinking paraphernalia including the most delicate of bone china cups with a moustache guard to prevent the creamy froth from ruining one’s tache! At the end of the tour was a demonstration of making chocolates filled with ganache which we all got to taste.

Beautiful Bruges

Beautiful Bruges

A lunch of moules frites and then free time to walk canal side, wander the cobbled streets, visit all those famous chocolate houses and do plenty of shopping. Ever shop offered a mouth-watering selection of chocolate in all shapes, sizes & flavours. A chocolate lover’s paradise!

Back on board we re-grouped and made sure our competition winners had enjoyed themselves. “Brilliant” was the general consensus of opinion. We docked back in Hull the next morning and all went on their way home clutching a Divine goody bag full of treats and now knowing how to taste chocolate to appreciate the full flavour. Eating a bar of chocolate will never be the same again!

Kuapa President sees Divine chocolate being made for the first time

13 November 2012

Latest post from Sophi:

If you want to guarantee a good turnout at a board meeting, I can recommend holding it in a chocolate factory!

The owner of the factory that makes Divine, Mr Cord Budde, invited us to have the next Divine Board meeting as his guests in the chocolate factory.  So the Divine Directors made their way from five countries to gather in Northern Germany. It was the final link in the chain, seeing how the chocolate is actually made.

The room where the board meeting was held had been Cord’s grandparents’ dining room. He had fond memories of Christmas dinners around the table .  On the table now were plates piled high with every flavour of chocolate to tempt your tastebuds.

Members of the Board of Divine USA with the portrait of the factory's founders

Members of the Board of Divine USA with the portrait of the factory’s founders

On the wall was a painting of  Ludwig and Luise Weinrich, who founded the factory in 1895.  Cord is the 4th generation to run the factory.  I remember attending Kuapa Kokoo‘s 10th AGM in 2003 with him in Ghana; it was the first time he had seen where the cocoa came from.  Cord and his team have been amazingly supportive of Divine, developing delicious new flavours and helping unpick problems for example, when our chocolate got stuck in the chocolate coin factory!  But he has also supported the farmers directly, building a school house for the teachers in the new school that Kuapa built in Amankwatia.

Christiana Ohene-Agyare, Emmanuel Arthur and Andy Goode - happy in the chocolate factory!

Christiana Ohene-Agyare, Emmanuel Arthur and Andy Good – happy in the chocolate factory!

Heading into the factory, we all had to don paper overalls and hair nets, a style challenge for anyone!  Then we had to wash and disinfect our hands to make sure we didn’t carry in any germs.  As you enter the heat hits you , then the low hum of the vats and finally the pervading smell of chocolate.   Throughout the visit  we see the whole process from roasting and grinding the beans, making cocoa mass, adding the sugar and milk, conching for hours in big vats to ensure the smooth consistency, nozzles depositing liquid chocolate into molds which are chilled, and the bars turned out, wrapped and packed in boxes through a maze of conveyor belts, pipes, machines and busy people.  Watching bars with whole hazelnuts being checked and turned over manually was thoroughly mesmerising.

Cocoa mass on its way to be made into chocolate

Cocoa mass on its way to be made into chocolate

It was really good to see President of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union Christiana Ohene-Agyare and Kuapa Kokoo Ltd MD Emmanuel Arthur finally getting to see how Kuapa’s own chocolate is made. They smiled a lot and I suspect they enjoyed the warmth and the increasingly sweet smell of the hot chocolate. It reminded me of the humid heat and distinctive smokey smells of the cocoa farms in Ghana.

As we started to make our way home, loaded down with chocolate, Hurricane Sandy hit the USA coast and USA Directors had the negotiate their way on to the next available plane.

Another mammoth journey and a great adventure for the Divine Board, and another reminder that this is really a very different way of doing business.

Divine bars wrapped and ready to be packed

Divine bars wrapped and ready to be packed


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