Posts in #interviews
Elegant Earl Grey Chocolate — A Collaboration & Competition with Chococo

We’ve always maintained that chocolate and tea is a match made in heaven, so we were delighted when Chococo asked Devonshire Tea to be the very first Devon brand to collaborate with them to create a brand new flavour infusion, and to help celebrate the success of their Exeter Chocolate House.

After lots of planning and development by their chocolatiers, the Elegant Earl Grey chocolate was born. A delightfully fragrant creation, these inspired chocolates are created by infusing real Earl Grey loose leaf tea with fresh Dorset cream and a Venezuelan-origin 43% milk chocolate ganache. This delicate filling is then piped into a Madagascan 67% dark chocolate shell.

Subtle and sophisticated — serious chocolate!

Since we had so much fun collaborating on these wonderful chocolates, we popped into Chococo’s Exeter Chocolate House on Gandy Street to meet with founder and chocolate aficionado, Claire Burnet.

We chatted over steaming mugs of Madagascan hot chocolate (well, it can’t always be tea!), and discussed everything from the wonders of cocoa beans and the differences with real chocolate, to the importance of South West businesses supporting each other.

Here’s what Claire had to say...

When did you establish Chococo and what inspired you to do so?

I established Chococo back in 2002 with my husband Andy. We were inspired by the fact that no-one was making truly fresh chocolates using local ingredients or origin chocolate at that time in the UK. The inspiration came from the chocolate experiences I had on the continent back in the late 1980s, when my parents lived in Brussels and Holland where we used to visit artisan chocolatiers making truly fresh chocolates on their premises. I wanted to recreate this connection with fine, fresh chocolate when setting up Chococo.

Why did you choose Exeter as the location for your third shop?

Exeter is a fantastic vibrant city with a buzzing local food culture and a number of thriving independent businesses. It’s also close enough for us to supply our chocolate house on Gandy Street from our chocolate kitchen in Wareham, in Dorset. When we saw the unit on Gandy Street, we knew it would make a perfect location for our third chocolate house; as there is space for both our chocolate shop and for seating. We pictured our customers sitting back and enjoying our origin hot chocolates, locally roasted Crankhouse coffees and Devonshire Tea all in one spot.

How would you describe a Chococo customer?

We appeal to customers of all ages. Chococo is a shop for anyone who appreciates fine chocolate and spending quality time with their friends and family.   

Why is it important for you to work with local businesses such as ourselves?

Working with local suppliers has been part of our DNA since we set up Chococo back in 2002 and we have built strong relationships with other food producers over the years. For example, we have worked with Trevor Craig of Craig’s Farm Dairy based just outside Weymouth (suppliers of all Chococo’s fresh cream since day one).

We love to support local producers because together we can help support the local economy and spread the word about the amazing food and drink that is being produced in Dorset, Hampshire and Devon. Collaboration also allows us to create chocolates with unusual local ingredients - and believe me, we’ve done just that. Blue Vinny cheese, fresh wasabi, watercress & Black Cow vodka are all ingredients that have all made their way into our products in one way or another. We love the challenge of creating new and innovative chocolates.

We also love to champion local food and drink producers in our cafés too. The coffee our customers enjoy in our Exeter chocolate house is slightly different to that served in our Swanage or Winchester houses. In Exeter, we work with Crankhouse Coffee, roasted in Exeter, and in Winchester we work with Moonroast Coffee. This also applies to our tea suppliers, so naturally our Exeter customers enjoy a cup of Devonshire Tea.

Can you give us an example of how you’ve worked with another local producer?

Would you believe we’ve used watercress in one of our chocolates? We ran a competition in our Winchester chocolate house where we asked our customers to suggest a chocolate with local flavours that would capture the essence of Hampshire. The final result was our Totally Twisted Nose chocolate, which is a blend of fresh Dorset cream infused with fresh watercress from the Watercress company (Dorset and Hampshire), origin white chocolate, and Twisted Nose Gin. This unique gin is crafted by Paul Bowler of the Winchester Distillery and one of the botanicals he uses is watercress, so this totally bonkers chocolate is a real taste of Hampshire! It is also quite delicious and won a Gold Academy of Chocolate Award in 2015.

Competition Time!

WIN a box of Elegant Earl Grey Chocolates and a selection of Devonshire Tea with Chococo

To celebrate our partnership with Chococo, we have teamed up to offer a delicious prize of a box of their Elegant Earl Grey chocolates and a set of 4 boxes of Devonshire Tea: Earl Grey, Classic Breakfast, Delightful Afternoon and Assam Origin. Visit the competition page over on the Chococo website to enter — good luck!

Tea with… Artist Becky Bettesworth

Few artists can capture the essence of the British coastline like Becky Bettesworth. Her vintage seaside posters are instantly recognisable, with their explosive colours and iconic subject matter.

Inspired by vintage 1930s travel posters, Becky celebrates the natural beauty of the South West of England and has created a series of high quality poster prints in homage to some of her favourite locations in the region.

Becky moved to Devon in 2001, where she now lives with her husband, three children and golden retriever Twiggy, just a stone’s throw from one of South Devon’s many idyllic beaches. With such talent right on our doorstep we were keen to get together and find out more about her creative process and what she loves about living in this part of the world…

What inspires you?

The beautiful beaches I am lucky to have on our doorstep in Devon. The natural beauty and natural elements, glistening seas, wide windswept beaches, rugged coastal paths all make up the scenery of where I live. Sharing special times and moments with my family and friends.

Your work is instantly recognisable. How long did it take you to perfect your style?

My style has evolved very naturally. I am true to myself and I ensure that each picture isn’t rushed but created individually in order to capture the unique and individual elements of what makes each place so special.

Can you describe your studio space?

I surround myself with things I love and that hold a special meaning and memory to me. I have an eclectic mix of mementos which I have collected over time, all of which inspire me. My postal room is organised by my amazing team with everything still being packaged and posted from my studio at home to add that personal touch.

What would you say your favourite part of your job is?

Being creative! Seeing an initial idea and thought process right through to the fruition of creating a final picture is wonderful and I never lose that complete joy at producing a new piece.

What about least favourite?

Admin and emails! But I luckily have an amazing assistant who helps to keep me organised!

Are you a tea drinker or a coffee fan?

Tea every time! It tastes all the better in a pretty china cup, probably picked up in a second hand shop and served from a beautiful tea pot.

What do you love about living in this part of the world?

I am so lucky to have all this stunning coastal and countryside right on my doorstep in Devon. The rugged coastline, pretty unspoilt coves and long sandy beaches contrasting with the wild beauty of Dartmoor.

Where is your favourite place to take a stroll with the family?

We can walk straight from home along the coastal path to a variety of picturesque beaches. We’ll stop off with a thermos of tea, cakes for the children and throw some stones into the sea for our dog, Twiggy.

You give a lot back to the local community through your work. What charities and causes are you most passionate about?

I get many requests to support both local and national charities and causes and I certainly try to help whenever I am able. I love the fact that my pictures give pleasure to so many people and this can help many wonderful and worthy causes, this certainly touches my heart.

Where can our readers buy your prints?

My full collection can be bought directly from my website which includes my newly released North West pictures. I also supply a few lovely shops within the local area.