For my latest interview I caught up with David Herrick of Foundry Chocolate. It was an honour to host Foundry Chocolate's launch night at our Ponsonby pop-up last September, and it's been great to see the public's reaction to this exceptional single-origin chocolate over the past few months. As so many of you have been enjoying David's bars, we thought you might like to know a little bit more about them...
Who is on the Foundry Chocolate team?
The husband and wife team of David and Janelle Herrick. I'm the chocolate maker, inventor and machine repairer and Janelle has designed and illustrated all the branding and packaging.
What got you started with chocolate making and when did you decide to turn it into a business?
I’ve always loved chocolate, and then I learnt it was possible to make great chocolate on a small scale in 2015. I tracked down some bean to bar craft chocolate bars and we were pretty amazed with the taste differences. After two years of learning and experimentation, in late 2017 we decided to start our business. It took about a year from then to have our first bars ready for sale.
How have you sourced your different bean origins?
To start with I sourced small 1 kg samples of over 40 single origins from around the world - all organised by email and phone call - and made them into nano-batches of dark chocolate. From these we made a shortlist of our favourites, developed and tested roast profiles for each and now we have launched seven of them.
Some origins we’ve brought direct from the growers, and others have come from specialist fine cacao suppliers. For example I’m buying our Kulkul origin direct from the Goodyear family on Karkar Island, Papua New Guinea. Dealing direct is very rewarding as you’re dealing with the actual person responsible for growing the cacao and you know you’re paying them a fair price for their cacao beans that reflects all the hard work put into growing and preparing it.
Our other bean origins have been sourced from Meridian Cacao and Uncommon Cacao in the USA, who make it possible to purchase smaller quantities of fine cacao you normally would have to buy in much larger quantities if you were buying direct from the grower.
Why did you decide to dedicate yourself to two ingredient chocolate?
Two reasons – I like the challenge of making it, as it’s definitely harder to make than if I added cacao butter or lecithin. But primarily because I love the remarkable flavours that can be accentuated with just two ingredients. People continue to be amazed that there are no other flavours added yet they are experiencing all these different tasting notes: from floral to citrus to honey to caramel to warm spices – which is just the personality of the cacao coming through and our healthy obsession for the preservation of provenance.
What are some of the benefits and disadvantages of making chocolate in very small batches?
One of the benefits of making micro-batches is that we’re able to offer a broad range to our customers, allowing them to explore many different regions of the world.
We also have the ability to adapt and respond on a batch-by-batch basis – as each batch behaves differently to previous ones. I’ve been known to set alarms to check how a chocolate batch is going in the middle of the night – factors like humidity, temperature and the beans themselves are all ongoing variables that on a micro level you can respond to very quickly.
And because our batches are so small, we have the ability to hand write individual limited edition numbers on each bar; meaning for example someone might get bar 3 of 52 from micro-batch TK008.
Some disadvantages are that if we choose to scale up our business then we’re in for some significant expenditure; and that we don’t have the capacity to make large batches of any of our origins.
How has the public reacted to your chocolate so far?
They have absolutely loved it, customer feedback has been incredible and we’ve loved converting people to two-ingredient bean to bar chocolate. Customers also love the way our packaging can be resealed, to recreate the “unboxing” experience again and again.
Do you have a favourite bean to work with? If so, why?
Two beans actually – the Ucayali River from Robin Jordan (Ucayali’s founder) in Peru, as it’s so well sorted and makes a delicious floral chocolate that’s different to the Peru’s made by other NZ bean to bar makers. And the Kulkul from Papua New Guinea, as it’s very technically challenging to work with, yet once you get though the challenges it makes the most vibrant and quirky chocolate.
What are your hopes and plans for the first couple of years with the business?
Just to grow slowly and carefully, remaining true to the way we think things should be done; introduce more people to the amazing flavours of two ingredient craft chocolate; and build a loyal customer base. And we would love to visit the growers when things allow!
What are some of your favourite chocolate bars you’ve recently tasted? (Other than your own!)
The Mantuano, Venezuela from Dandelion; the Cab Sav from Raaka; and pretty much anything from Sirene. And I’m still partial to a sneaky Bounty Bar.
What’s your favourite thing about being a chocolate maker?
Being able to eat incredible chocolate whenever I want. And that I’ve ended up creating a job that involves so many facets of my interests: my foodie side, building machinery, fixing machinery, inventing things and sourcing things from all over the world. And a job that is based where I love to live, accessible to my family and the outdoors.
Plus the craft chocolate community is really fantastic; it’s supportive; they’re a bunch of good people; and we are learning from each other (especially when we’re going through the same machinery challenges…).
Thanks so much to David for taking the time for this interview. If you haven't tried Foundry Chocolate yet then you are in for a serious treat. I recommend trying their India and Vanuatu bars side-by-side if you'd like to experience how amazingly different two cacao origins can be.