Chocolate - we all have a preference be that milk, white or dark.
Sophie Meyer calls herself a chocolate or cocoa explorer and chocolatier, she is also the founder of The C Note LTD which creates artisan chocolate.
It was while making a documentary in Trinidad that she first discovered the trinitario cocoa bean.
“It was unlike any other chocolate I had eaten before, unlike anything I have had in Europe,” the St Leonards on Sea resident reveals.
“I was making a film over there and I went to a cocoa plantation and they offered me cocoa tea. It had crushed cocoa, mixed with spices like cloves, cinnamon and other Trinidad spices all mixed in condensed milk I was wasn’t initially keen but when I tasted it...wow.”
Sophie taught herself how to make chocolate through videos online and troubleshooting as she went along trying to recreate that smoothness she enjoyed from other chocolate.
She works directly with the farmers and imports the fermented cocoa beans direct from them.
“I could probably do it myself but I think it is better to get the producer to learn those skills,” she explains.
“I just feel it is important to work with the people who farm the land.”
In her artisan chocolate Sophie uses cocoa nibs, organic cocoa butter and organic coconut sugar, and then essential oils to flavour.
“It is a really beautiful product the cocoa bean so I don’t want to take away too much, I just want to enhance it,” she says.
“There is a minimum of 72 per cent cocoa, mainly 75 depending on what I put on it.”
The flavour combinations include rose, lime and black pepper, black cherry, and rosemary and sea salt.
“I love doing flavour combinations that will work with savoury items, so I have flavours that work really well with wine and cheese.”
Making her own chocolate and tasting the cocoa from Trinidad has changed Sophie’s perspective of more commercial chocolate we have in the UK such as Lindt and Cadbury.
“What most people buy is like candy not chocolate,” she says.
“My dad usually has a fridge full of Lindt but the way they make it is like a cocoa sandwich, they squeeze out the cocoa butter, and then add other bits. I can’t help when I’m in the shop looking at the ingredients and some have so many.”
One of the reasons Sophie uses coconut sugar is due to the slavery trade link to sugar cane plantations.
“I know that cocoa plantations were part of the slave trade but now many of them are owned by family members of the former slaves.
“I want to make chocolate with integrity.”
Most of the cacao for The C Note is sourced in Trinidad & Tobago, Panama and Grenada.
Alongside the trinitario bean that Sophie uses there are other beans which are used to make chocolate - forastero which is the most widely used comprising 80 to 90 per cent of the world production of cocoa.
The criollo variety is rarer and considered a delicacy and Sophie says it is the finest .
“The flavour of the cocoa depends on the region,” she explains.
“Even if it is from the same place the flavour can change depending on how much rain fall there is and even when the sun dries them out the intensity of it.”
Talking to Sophie she is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about cocoa and chocolate and that love shines through.
“I just want to give people a taste sensation of what chocolate should taste like.”