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News / auckland

  • The Chocolate Bar Interview 015: Brian Campbell, Miann

    The Chocolate Bar Interview 015: Brian Campbell, Miann

    For my latest interview I caught up with Brian Campbell, co-owner and chocolate maker at Miann. Brian has spent years working as a high-end pastry chef around the world and when he opened the first Miann location in 2015, he wowed Auckland with his unique and exceptional patisserie skills. Late last year Brian decided to take on the daunting task of starting to make all of Miann's chocolate in-house, from bean to bar, and opened up a small chocolate factory in Morningside. It's been amazing to see how Miann has developed since launching their bean-to-bar range, and a pleasure to get to know Brian over the past year or so. Have a read of this interview if you're keen to know more about what's happening behind the scenes...

    miann chocolate new zealand

    What was your professional experience before starting Miann, and how has that informed what you do now?

    Before Opening Miann I worked in New Zealand at the French Cafe, Bracu, Kermadec, and opened the Hilton Queenstown, all as head pastry chef. Previous to that I had been learning my craft in the UK in many Michelin starred and Relais and Chateaux restaurants and hotels. I’ve always wanted to open my own dessert bar as I’ve always had a clear direction of where I wanted to be. 

    You recently opened Miann Morningside, which features your first bean-to-bar chocolate factory. What inspired you to start making chocolate from scratch?

    We originally conceptualised our chocolate room to being a bean-to-bar hot chocolate store and produce a couple of our own chocolates that would be unique to us, but after tasting the first batch of chocolate we made we were hooked. With the endless possibilities of origins and choosing our roast profiles, we have ended up with about twenty different chocolates; all ethically sourced, all made from scratch in our 20 square meter store. It’s something we are very proud to offer. If you have anything from gelato to cakes to a simple cookie with chocolate in it, in any of our stores, you know it’s been made by hand in our Morningside chocolate factory.

    craft chocolate new zealand

    How has using your own chocolate affected the things you make in the restaurants?

    We had a lot of trial and error to begin with, adjusting our recipes to allow us to use the new chocolates. The bean to bar products are vastly different to using the chocolate we used previously. But now we have all the recipes locked and have figured out the adjustments needed, we are so happy to offer cakes, gelato, macarons and more, all made with our own chocolate. There are not many places in the world that not only make their own chocolate but also use it all the way through to patisserie.

    You seem to be making chocolate from a huge range of cacao beans. How do you decide which origins to source, and where do you source them from?

    We have a few farm direct suppliers now and outside of that we use traders like Uncommon Cacao and Meridian Cacao. It always starts with samples to check the flavour profile and quality of the beans. We ensure that the farmers are being treated ethically first and foremost. We have chosen to import large quantities of 10 different beans that we will use for everything from our bars right through to our cakes. After that we import smaller quantities of beans to offer a varied and - importantly for me - an evolving selection of bean-to-bar chocolate bars. We are not aiming for supermarket sales which allows us to move between different origins with ease, as we don’t need to mass produce our packaging (which is all hand written!) 

    miann bean to bar auckland

    Do you have a favourite bean or chocolate to work with? If so, why?

    It’s a bit like choosing between your loved ones... there shouldn’t be a favourite but there always is. My personal favourite jumps between the Papua New Guinea Tokiala beans and the Belize Maya Mountain. They couldn’t be more different, the PNG is smokey with hints of roasted barrels and whisky, while the Belize is so fruity and reminiscent of red wine. They all offer us something new to create a new product with.

    What are some of the challenges and benefits of making chocolate in micro batches?

    Getting the beans in from around the world. We seem to be quite a journey for some of the highest grades of beans, which increases our costs due to the shipping alone. We are not at the level to import container lots yet so shipping can be quite high when it’s consolidated with other items in containers. So I guess cost is one thing, along with everything being hand made, from sorting the beans to cracking and winnowing, all the way through to moulding, wrapping and labelling. The level of human interaction is huge but that is also what makes it a beautiful thing. And something we won’t change. 

    bean to bar chocolate new zealand artisan

    Are you finding an increased customer awareness of high quality and craft chocolate in Auckland?

    It’s getting there, people are still learning and I would probably go as far as to say discovering the differences between commercially mass produced chocolates and the bean-to-bar small-batch makers. We are lucky in the sense that we are our own biggest customer, because we sell most of our chocolate to our stores to create beautiful cakes, gelato, sorbets and a lot more .

    Are there any chocolate makers who you find particularly inspiring?

    I really love Dick Taylor’s chocolate. I admire that they don’t hide anything on their social channels and the quality of their chocolate is second-to-none. I also love what Dandelion has done. They have probably been one of the biggest influences on the industry.

    miann chocolate artisan patisserie

    What are your hopes for the future of Miann?

    We have grown Miann quite fast, starting only three years ago with our Fort Street store and then adding our flagship store in Takutai Square in Britomart. Now with our Morningside store and the chocolate factory, I think this coming year is going to be about getting everything running at 100%. Changing to our own chocolate was probably the biggest and most satisfying challenge we have faced since we began. Going from producing zero to probably about eight tonnes of chocolate a year is still mind blowing for us to think about, in a positive way. We are now hoping to get our chocolates into New Zealand’s great restaurants, and see where that journey takes us...

    miann artisan bean to bar chocolate craft

    Thanks so much to Brian for taking the time for this interview. You can find a couple of Miann bars in our online store, and if you're ever in Auckland be sure to pay them a visit.

    Thanks to Miann for providing the photographs for this piece.

  • The Chocolate Bar Interview 013: David Herrick, Foundry Chocolate

    The Chocolate Bar Interview 013: David Herrick, Foundry Chocolate

    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...

    david herrick foundry chocolate

    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.

    david herrick foundry chocolate

    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.

    foundry chocolate new zealand

    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!

    foundry chocolate david herrick

    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…).

    foundry chocolate bar

    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.

  • The Chocolate Bar Ponsonby Pop-Up

    The Chocolate Bar Ponsonby Pop-Up

    I am so excited to announce that The Chocolate Bar is heading to Auckland for a week-long pop-up event.

    This celebration of the world’s finest bean-to-bar chocolate will take place at Ponsonby Central, Shop 4D. As well as a pop-up shop that runs Monday to Sunday, there will be multiple tasting events and talks, collaborations with local food producers and the launch of a brand new chocolate maker, Foundry Chocolate.

     

    the chocolate bar ponsonby pop up

     

    The aim of this event is to help spread the word of the small but emerging craft chocolate industry, and to introduce more Aucklanders to the true potential of fine chocolate. The pop-up shop will feature the largest collection of NZ bean-to-bar chocolate that has ever been in one place, as well as a beautifully curated collection of rare and exclusive bars from the world’s finest chocolate makers.

    From Monday to Thursday there will be ticketed evening tasting sessions, including a coffee and chocolate tasting with Eighthirty Coffee, a tea and chocolate tasting with Fine & Dandy Tea Co., a soda and chocolate tasting with Six Barrel Soda, and a tasting session focussing specifically on NZ Craft Chocolate. There will also be free talks about craft chocolate every lunchtime for the whole week, plus an opportunity to meet Auckland-based chocolate maker Tania Lincoln - aka Flint Chocolate - on the Sunday afternoon.  

    tea chocolate artisan tasting event auckland

    On the Saturday night there will be a tasting premiere of the newest edition to the NZ craft chocolate scene, Foundry Chocolate. This will be an exclusive opportunity to sample Foundry Chocolate’s first four micro-batch, limited edition releases with the chocolate maker himself.

    Tickets to the evening tasting events are available now for $25 each. Spaces are very limited, so be sure to grab yours early if you’re keen.

    artisan coffee chocolate

    Be sure to register your interest on the Facebook event if you’d like to keep up-to-date with all the plans. I can’t wait to come and meet more of our Auckland-based customers in person!

    This event is sponsored by Eighthirty Coffee, Antipodes Sparkling Water, Six Barrel Soda Co. and The Chocolate and Coffee Show.

  • Tea and craft chocolate tasting nights

    Tea and craft chocolate tasting nights

    Tea and craft chocolate night

     

    As you may have already seen, I will be running two tea and craft chocolate tasting nights over the next few weeks, one in Wellington and one in Auckland.

    I’m really looking forward to these events for so many reasons. Firstly, I’ve never seen this kind of taste matching done in New Zealand before, so I’m excited to play around with these new and delicious possibilities. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to get to know some of my customers more personally, and to have decent conversations about what everybody enjoys when it comes to chocolate. Lastly, it’s the start of the more educational side of this business, which is something I really want to focus on this year. Bean-to-bar chocolate is a relatively new thing in New Zealand, so I’m really looking forward to explaining in depth about the whole concept and process.

    As for the tastings themselves, I think it’s going to be really fun to try out these different combinations and to introduce people to some unique and wonderful flavours. I’ve organised several taste matching events in the past, but what I particularly love about this is the level of subtlety involved. Tea and craft chocolate both involve very intricate flavours that you have to appreciate calmly, allowing the mysteries to unfold on your palate in their own time. I think - and hope - people are going to be pleasantly surprised by some of the things that they encounter.

    I’m also excited to be collaborating with two of the best tea companies in New Zealand - Ritual Tea in Wellington and Fine & Dandy in Auckland. Both of these companies are using exceptionally high quality single estate tea that is Fair Trade and organic. Likewise, the chocolate we will be tasting is all single origin and made with Fair of Direct Trade cacao. The similarities between tea and chocolate are manifold, and what I find really interesting about both is the influence of the terroir in the final flavour. It’s an infinite world of joy to be explored.

    These events are going to be an appreciation of so many things: they are a way of giving thanks for the natural bounty of the earth; a way of paying gratitude to the people who harvest this bounty; a celebration of the talented crafters who turn this bounty into something delicious, and a general enjoyment of the fine and delicate things in life. In a world that can often be cruel and overwhelming, it’s important to take some timeout to bask in these gifts.

    I hope some of you can join us for these events.

    Thanks,

    The Chocolate Bar