Sabi Phagura goes behind the scenes of the super-premium Firetree chocolate company in Cambridgeshire to find out more about the ingredients of success.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to eat healthy by avoiding chocolate, and you’re now falling by the wayside, don’t fret. There’s a solution to keep you on track whereby you can have your chocolate and eat it. The answer to this ‘problem’ goes by the name of Firetree, a British brand all about quality and taste.
There’s no denying that Brits are a nation of chocolate lovers. They consume more chocolate than Switzerland, a country renowned for its sweet treats.
Hardly surprising when its forever being reported that its heart-healthy due to the flavanols in cocoa beans. As antioxidants, they may reduce damage to cells. However, before we sugar coat it, chocolate – including the dark variety – is still high in sugar and fat, and is laden in extra calories.
An Idea is born
The single-estate rich volcanic chocolate from the remote Pacific Islands and Madagascar was the brainchild of David Zulman, Martyn O’Dare and Aidan Bishop.
The trio, who between them have amassed 85 years’ experience in the chocolate industry, had the vision to create a brand of the sweet stuff like no other.
David grew up playing in cocoa sacks in his grandfather’s chocolate company in South Africa, while Martyn worked for chocolate manufacturer Cacao Barry, before becoming a UK General Manager of Cargill Chocolate. They came up with the idea in a north London pub in 2016 and spent nine months carving out plans.
Fast forward to today, and the Cambridgeshire-made chocolate is now a bespoke high-end chocolate manufacturer and boasts vegan and dairy-free credentials. The current Firetree collection comprises seven bars with a variety of complexity and intensity, each from a separate high-quality farm.
Tasting the products at Firetree was of paramount importance, and I tried several different types of chocolate during my visit. I learned there are certain hallmarks to expect from good quality chocolate – two of the most important ones being the ‘snap’ when you break it, and that ‘slow melt in the mouth’ when you taste it.
I was even given precise instructions on how to enjoy it. “Just like a good wine or coffee, good chocolate is something to be savoured, since the unique flavour profile of our single-estate bars can take a while to come through,” said Martyn. “So first, snap a piece off the bar and breathe in the aroma allowing those different scents and fragrances to linger. Now place the chocolate on your tongue and allow it to slowly melt. You’ll gradually find those subtle tasting notes building up over time,”.
I did as instructed, and what an experience it was for my taste buds! I tend to find dark chocolate bitter, especially when it’s over 70 per cent cocoa, but hands down this chocolate had none of the bitterness or after-taste. It literally melted away in the mouth like the milk chocolate variety. I could be converted, and it looked like I wasn’t the only one.