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In de aprilbox genoten we naast Mirzam en La Naya, van een prachtige reep met zuurdesem van Pump Street Bakery. Deze bakkers / chocolademakers zijn nog maar kort bezig, maar door hun ongekende nieuwsgierigheid hebben ze al veel spannende (en prijswinnende!) chocolade gemaakt. Zelf uiteraard ook heel nieuwsgierig, mocht ik chocolademaker Rob Sledmore, een aantal vragen stellen.
Hi Rob. I understand PSB has quite an interesting background. I’m curious, what made you expand from baking into making bean-to-bar chocolate?
At Pump Street Bakery we have always focused on producing the highest quality sourdough bread possible. When it became apparent that cocoa beans are fermented in much the same natural way as the flour and water mix that is the basis of quality sourdough bread we were hooked. When we delved deeper we discovered that very little chocolate produced in the UK is actually made from the cocoa bean through to the finished bar. As this is the only way to really ensure the highest quality we decided to try and make it ourselves. It is also a lot of fun.
What aspect of chocolate making speaks to you most?
The amazing variety of flavours that are created using different origins of cocoa beans and nothing else. It is truly unbelievable how different cocoa bean genetics, county, region and farm terroir together with the post harvest practices of individual farmers can produce such a range of incredible flavours. Balancing this creation of natural flavour into making the highest quality chocolate possible is a wonderful challenge.
One thing I receive many comments on from customers is your wonderful packaging, which really stands out from other brands. Was there a certain reasoning behind this?
We wanted a distinctive packaging that reflected the heritage of our bakery and emphasised the quality of the chocolate. You only need one or two squares of our chocolate to get a cocoa fix so having a resealable pouch ensures that the chocolate stays in absolutely the best condition and the packaging integrity is maintained.
How did you get the idea of combining sourdough and chocolate?
It was very easy to put our chocolate in our bread; we simply moulded chocolate batons and made pain au chocolate. The real challenge was how to do the same in reverse, put the bread in the chocolate. Our Sourdough bar was the answer to this riddle.
Mission accomplished! Talking about cacao, what are the things you find important when you are selecting a new cacao supplier?
We insist on direct relationships with the farmers. We look for good cocoa bean genetics of heritage varietals, process driven fermentation (on farm where possible) and a sound bean drying infrastructure. The direct relationship is the key, we are constantly discussing how to improve the quality of the cocoa bean crops with the farmers we work with.
Finally, What do you think the future of bean-to-bar chocolate will look like?
The chocolate market is vast and at the moment only a tiny fraction of that market understands high quality single origin chocolate. As knowledge and understanding of the delicious flavours that can be created by making good single origin chocolate spreads, the future for bean-to-bar chocolate is hugely positive. It has the potential to grow much in the same way as the single malt whisky market did in the1970s and 1980s and more recently the single origin coffee market has. As bean-to-bar chocolate becomes more accessible it is important to remember though that the foundation of making quality chocolate relies upon the hard work of the farmers who grow the cocoa beans. Paying a higher price for this chocolate and making sure that the farmers in turn are directly receiving the price they deserve for the cocoa they grow is critically important.
And do you have any exciting plans for Pump Street’s future?
Lots, too many to expand on really. In the short term we have purchased a cocoa butter press so we will soon be able to make a range of single origin cocoa powders and cocoa butters, the latter will lead to single origin white chocolate. We have a number of other products planned for Christmas 2017 too alongside the addition of some exciting new origins of cocoa in the 70g bar range. We have also outgrown our current chocolate rooms so we hope to move to a larger space in the summer.
Best of luck to you Rob, and the whole team at Pump Street.