15 November 2018, 09:21 AM
  • As the founder of Bullion Chocolate, Max Scotford is deeply passionate about single-origin chocolate made from bean-to-bar practices
Meet Max Scotford: the New Producer Awards 2018 Supreme Champion

I’ve always been a big foodie, so when I finished school I went to catering college and trained to be a chef. It was around that time I fell in love with the idea of chocolate. One thing led to another, and I started making it at home – towards the end of university, I was exploring the idea of creating a business around it.

As I started researching the history of chocolate, I found out about the ancient Maya Indians, who used to value cocoa beans more than gold, and used it as currency. And I began to think that, as a nation, we’ve lost sight of that value – we just see it as a grab-and-go item. I thought I’d look into it a bit more and I discovered the bean to bar movement, which involves craft makers that import cocoa beans and roast speciality cacao from scratch.

We’re working with cacao beans from scratch – there are not many makers in the UK doing that. It’s exciting because with every new origin that we discover, it’s our job to showcase these different profiles and do each chocolate justice.

As for our customers, it shows them a different side of chocolate they probably never even knew existed. The bean to bar movement is a completely new way of working with chocolate, looking at chocolate, and it’s really starting to gain traction here in the UK.

And it’s so different to what consumers expect from a chocolate bar here in the UK – consumers say, “wow, how did I not know chocolate could taste like this?”

All our bars are 70% cocoa, so when people taste them side by side, they can clearly see how different each chocolate can taste depending on its origin. There are three bars at the moment: Haiti, Bolivia and Guatemala.

Haiti is from the Acul Du Nord region, grown by an association for farmers, and the flavour profile has caramelly, raisin and figgy notes. That was the first one we got an academy of chocolate award with, back in 2017, which really put us on the map for craft chocolate.

Then there’s Bolivia, and the flavour notes can alter every year – but the Bolivia harvest for this year had brownie notes, with a honey tinge. The Bolivia bar won us Bronze in the academy of chocolate awards last year.

Guatemala, on the other hand, is very jammy and peachy in flavour – perfect for pairing with cheese.

I’d like to grow the range eventually, but at the moment these three bars are a vehicle for what I’m trying to achieve with the brand.

We’re opening a café and factory in Sheffield: the cafe’s opening next month, and the factory should be open by January. The main focus of it all is to champion chocolate. There will be a big glass counter at the coffee bar, looking into the chocolate factory, meaning that you can actually see the chocolate being made – it’s a very one-of-a-kind concept.

Because we focus on single-origin chocolate, the café will also play up to that, so there will be single-origin hot chocolate, some baked goods as well. For example, our Haiti-origin chocolate has some really figgy notes, so we’ll create a sticky toffee pudding brownie, which will really work with those flavours.

We’re not trying to do anything savoury – it’s literally just all things chocolate!