Founded in 2020, Azura Chocolate indulges customers with an exquisite range of freshly handcrafted chocolates using the finest ingredients.
Since opening our new eatery at the Gate Hotel in East London we have been keen to connect with and champion other local businesses, that are achieving great things! Last week I had the pleasure of catching up with Delphine, the founder of Azura Chocolate, to hear all about how a love of chocolate led her to trade in a career in architecture.
Hi Delphine, I wanted to start by asking how you got into the chocolate business? What sparked the idea?
I started working in the cocoa industry with a friend who owns cocoa beans plantation in Nigeria. He wanted to start his own chocolate range and he asked me to help him develop a range of products using his cocoa beans.
Are you local to East London?
I live in South East London.
Would you give us an overview of your process, from bean to bar?
I start by selecting the beans from small family-run cocoa farms as much as possible. Once the beans arrive, I roast them at a low temperature in order to preserve as much flavour and aroma as possible and then I proceed with the cracking and winnowing processes; which is basically the two steps allowing to remove the skin of the cocoa beans. Once we have our cocoa nibs ready I put them in a refiner, add ingredients such as sugar or milk powder depending on the type of chocolate I am making. I then let the chocolate refine for several hours, generally between 24 to 48 hours.
There are obviously many ethical and sustainability issues within the chocolate industry. Would you tell us about some of the problems and how you avoid this with your business?
The two main issues with the chocolate industry are the use of child labour and mass deforestation. One way to avoid contributing to these ethical and sustainable issues is to research about the source of your cocoa beans. As a small scale chocolate maker I can easily avoid the big corporations and concentrate on the small family-run businesses who don’t over produce and who maintain fair trade practices running their businesses.
Where do you source your cocoa beans from and what makes them extra special?
I source my cocoa beans from Ecuador, The Philippines, Uganda or Venezuela. The beans I select are highly graded, with a variety of complex flavours and are all produced in very good working conditions.
How do you select your cocoa farms? Have you visited them yourself?
I haven’t personally visited the cocoa farms but the channel of distribution I use provides booklets and lots of information about the running of each farm and also offers the opportunity to visit the farms if desired.
How do you come up with your flavour combinations? They are incredible!
The flavour combinations I use are the results of me attending many classes either on a one to one basis or online. Some of my flavours are yuzu, figs and almonds, banana and pecan praline or mango and passion fruit.
What is your personal favourite and why?
Mango and passion fruit. I love dark chocolate and the combination of a dark chocolate shell with those two fruits is to die for 😉
What is next for Azura Chocolate, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would love to carry on offering delicious and flavoursome chocolates to my customers and carry on exploring different combinations as well as come up with new Single Origin chocolate bars. I would also love to combine these with fun chocolate workshops for everyone to have a go at making their own chocolates range and also to explain why the industry needs a real change and awareness around the ethical issues mentioned above.
Now for some fun questions, Who would be your top 3 dinner party guests?
Bruce Lee, Frida Kahlo and Picasso
Amazing choices. What would you cook for them?
I’d order some Sushi and chocolates for dessert 🙂
Finally, what would you pick from our menu and why?
I would pick the Vegan falafel salad and the Turkey meatballs. It looks delicious and healthy too.
Due to popular demand, Azura have been working on a range of sugar-free products starting with a decadent 75% chocolate bar. So, if you haven’t already, head down to Old Spitalfields Market to try Delphine’s amazing handcrafted chocolates. If you’re lucky, there might even be some free samples…!