Chocolate Purveyors 14- Duffy Sheardown
Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with Duffy Sheardown the founder of Duffy's Chocolate.
Duffy's is a small-scale producer of fine quality chocolate from Lincolnshire, UK. All of their chocolate is made from cacao beans with no substitute or artificial chocolate flavoring. Duffy's buys unroasted beans and performs the entire chocolate-making process in house without compromising the integrity of the chocolate.
Do you remember your first experience with real chocolate? What was it?
I remember small plastic “wine glasses” that had some kind of chocolate ganache inside that you ate with a tiny spoon. They were very cheap from the local sweet shop. The first bar I remember eating was a rip-off of the Kit-Kat called Bar 6. I’m still a fan of wafers in chocolate
Before starting Duffy’s Chocolate, what did you do?
I made racing cars for thirty years. My first job was making carbon fibre parts for a Formula 1 team and I ended up in team management. Lots of fun and lots of hard work with some great people. I still miss it, especially the team-work.
What is a typical day for you in the chocolate shop?
There are 2 sides to a typical day at the factory. Early in the week, I will be roasting beans, sorting through them, breaking them and winnowing. Middle of the week I will start a new batch of chocolate and then monitor it over the next 4 days. At the same time, I check and send out new orders and chocolate to our regular subscribers and all the new bars.
I start at about 8 am with a cafetiere of good coffee and a quick on-line Italian lesson then start checking emails. I usually finish by 6 pm and go home smelling of chocolate.
Do you prefer a hot cup of coffee or chocolate in the morning?
Coffee. I didn’t use to ever have hot drinks but met some excellent Ethiopian coffee at a show in London and am a convert. Since we started making out Panama 100% bar I have stopped adding milk and sugar, too – I just want to taste the flavour of the beans.
When you cycle, do you snack on chocolate for energy? Do you recommend it?
When I cycle I always have chocolate unless it’s a hot day. A little piece now and then keeps the mouth interested and might help with a little energy too. I would recommend it but admit to bias.
What chocolate are you eating from other makers these days?
I don’t get to meet other makers very often but do always like to try new makers and, if I see them, new origins and flavours that look intriguing. I do like the bars that Amano and Askinosie make as well, of course as a lot of the Friss-Holm bars
Do you have a personal favourite terroir?
My favourite beans come from Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. I’m not sure if that’s a pure terroir thing or the great work that Xoco does growing cocoa beans and processing them.
For someone trying Duffy’s Chocolate for the first time, what chocolate would you give them to try?
If they are already enjoying craft chocolate I would offer them Guatemala 70% and Honduras 72%. They are both single-origin bars and the DNA of the cocoa beans is identical – but the trees are grown 150 miles apart. The bars taste quite different. For someone new to craft chocolate I would offer them a piece of the Panama 72% and a piece of Venezuela 72%. Same recipe but again very different flavours. The idea is just to show the range of flavours that naturally exist in cocoa beans that you might find and enjoy in craft chocolate. I do a similar thing with Ecuador 43% and Nicaragua 45% milk chocolate bars if they say they don’t like dark chocolate and then tempt them with a piece of gentle Ecuador 72% dark.
How do you think craft chocolate can become more popular like Craft Beer or Specialty Coffee. Or is it there already?
We’ve all been saying and hoping that craft chocolate will follow craft beer and good coffee for years now. One day it will be true. We need more people tasting good chocolate, more people talking about it and reviewing it and hopefully, we can all grow together.
What does the future hold for Duffy’s Chocolate?
Our aim is slow growth so that we make sure that we don’t compromise on quality. I have at least 2 new single-origin bars for early 2020 and there should be an increased range of flavoured bars too. We have a new website coming soon too, once we iron out all the bugs. More chocolate, more fun, and definitely more cycling.
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