The average female cocoa farmer is paid as little as 23p per day despite the fact that in Africa where 60% of the worlds cocoa is grown, 68% of cocoa labour is carried out by women. Figures from the fair trade foundation state that women are paid less than one third of what their male counterparts receive.
At Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are in Direct trade with our farmers and we aim to pay them 3 times more than fair trade. Being in Direct trade with our farmers means we are in direct communication with them and not only pay them directly but also ensure that their farms are ethical and everyone is treated fairly.
Being a Female owned business, we do as much as possible to support our wonderful female farmers and do as much as we can to hope that they are improving their lifestyles and communities. From helping our female Colombian farmers; Carmen, Martha and Yanira, to our wonderful Farmers in Makira; Grace & team. We aim to get them all to the premium cocoa market for their fine quality cocoa and by being in direct trade we make sure that they are being paid and treated more than fairly!
Celebrate Cacao have written a lovely blog post about us as women in Chocolate for International women day you can find this below!
Friday 10thJanuary saw the first Nottingham Partners lunch of 2020, where approximately 90 Nottingham based business owners enjoyed networking opportunities and speeches by Robert Dixon (interim Chief Executive at Marketing NG) at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena Spotlight Bar.
This was a wonderful opportunity to be involved in, as Luisa herself was able to take to the stage and introduce her “unique, award winning bean-to bar chocolate” business. This opportunity allowed for a brief education into chocolate which we encourage here at Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, in order for a broader understanding into why our chocolate is simply beyond measure. With over 600 taste nuances in chocolate, it is no wonder that we have our farmers to thank for producing such naturally flavourful beans that makes our chocolate!
Luisa was able to talk a bit more on our recent collaboration with the University of Nottingham’s Future Food Beacon and Innovate UK project in Colombia where we are all working together both science and chocolate to help our 3 female farmers; Martha, Yanira and Carmen to understand the science behind what makes a good crop, and in turn what makes the best chocolate- allowing them to reach the premium market for their cocoa.
Being a local independent business, we strive to work not only nationally, but most importantly- locally! The Partners lunch was a wonderful afternoon getting to know and meet more local business owners, especially as an opportunity to educate more on our recent collaborations and newest ranges!
On Tuesday 17th December, Luisa and the team attended the University of Nottingham Winter Reception held on campus. The event highlighted the incredible Colombia Cocoa project which Luisa has been working heavily alongside the Future Food Beacon- University of Nottingham’s plant science department to create a new range of incredible Colombian cocoa at a 66%. Whilst the university have been looking at the whole chemical breakdown and plant science developments to do with the fermentation process of the cocoa beans and their growth in general on our 3 Colombian farms, here at Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, we have been formulating an incredibly fruity and spice note chocolate from our Colombian cacao in order to help our 3 female farmers reach the premium market for their cacao and in turn live a better lifestyle.
Since the launch of our Colombian chocolate, the responses have been incredible. Our customers have been loving the incredible taste notes that our Colombian chocolate releases. With wonderfully Cherry notes and spice undertones, our Colombian chocolate proves a perfect winter chocolate. At the Winter Reception, we heavily encouraged all guests to try all 3 chocolates from our 3 different farmers: Martha, Yanira and Carmen. Although all are from Colombia, all chocolates vary so differently in terms of prominence in flavour notes. Please read more on our project and the winter reception below!
“The opportunity to present my chocolate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been the highlight of my chocolate-making career to date” – Luisa’s chocolate adventure has finally been rewarded by such a prestigious organisation, with diplomats from the Foreign and Commonwealth office and Prosperity Fund, other experts in the field of chocolate, and the University of Nottingham paying tribute to her hard work and commitment to ethical, sustainable, award-winning chocolate, which is incredibly well-deserved.
If you’ve visited the shop and met Luisa, you’ll have heard about the exciting “science meets chocolate” project that sets Luisa apart even more from any other chocolate-maker in the UK. Knowing all her farmers by name, Luisa is committed to making a difference in the communities that supply her cacao, embarking on a “rewarding adventure” to ensure the 3 female farmers (Yanira, Martha and Carmen) that supply her Colombian cacao get a better-than-fair price for their high-quality beans. The higher the quality, the higher the price farmers must be paid, thus Luisa, alongside scientists from the University of Nottingham, travelled to Colombia to meet her farmers and investigate the science behind the mysterious fermentation process of cacao, to unlock the secrets about what exactly, on a microbiological level, goes on in the fermentation box that creates that high-quality bean we love the taste of!
After all, Luisa’s motto is “great beans make great chocolate!”, and the project aims to scientifically discover whatexactly makes a great bean! Using techniques such as DNA sequencing performed by the UON, we will then feedback our results to Yanira, Martha and Carmen so they can take on these instructions to fine-tune their technique and ensure they get better beans with each crop. This will allow them to enter the “super premium market” and therefore Luisa is helping them to be paid a better price for their cacao. Luisa already sticks by the principles of direct trade, cutting out the middleman, which allows her to pay farmers up to 3x more than ‘fair-trade’ price, which she has witnessed making the monumental difference between farmers sending their children to university or not.
Luisa recalls “it was such an exciting moment to be presented with 3 huge sacks of cocoa from the first crop”, after which she went through each bag to assess the quality of the beans matched her high standard, which is done by using a cut test and checking the colours inside the bean to ensure the fermentation process has been successful. After the cut test, Luisa then records the data; “there is so much science that takes place during the fermentation process, so to be able to work with the University of Nottingham on the fine flavour profile is cutting edge, excuse the pun!”. Then, “with careful attention, the perfected chocolate is hand tempered and filled into bars …heavenly”.
If you want to invest in a truly ethical, high quality product this Christmas, make it Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates. As more and more people are becoming more mindful about the products they use, there has never been a better time to pop down to her shop in Sneinton Market and become part of a wonderful network of like-minded people on a chocolate journey. If it’s good enough for the FCO, we’ll sure you’ll love it!
The University of Nottingham have been keeping us updated on the plant science side of why our Colombian cocoa project is so important- aside from helping our female farmers to reach the premium market of course!
In the blog post attached, Lexi Earl goes into detail into why the fermentation and growing process of the cocoa is so important to create such fine quality beans. We then take these beans and have been formulating the perfect recipe for creating the perfect Colombian cocoa bar- which has been such a success since its launch date on the 18th October.
find out more on the plant science as well as how we are helping our 3 farmers from Colombia (Martha, Yanira and Carmen) in the link below.
As some of you may know, we have embarked on an extremely exciting project with the Innovate UK team and the University of Nottingham’s Plant Science department to help empower the female farmers out in Colombia to reach the premium market for their crops! In May we all went out to the farms in Colombia and met with our lovely farmers Carmen, Martha and Yanira to see their farms and meet them before engaging in this incredible journey. Our aim for the project is to improve the quality of crop for these farmers to help empower them to reach the premium market for their fine quality beans and therefore provide them with better means of business and living. We have produced our first batch of chocolates made straight from bean to bar here in our Nottingham Sneinton Market location.
On the 18th October we hosted our Colombian Tasting event to celebrate the launch of our Colombian cacao, our guests included customers, local businesses and the prosperity fund team from the Foreign office- Catherine Pye. The event was not only a great success in terms of educating our guests about the history and cultural importance of cocoa, but also in terms of having our guests love our chocolate so much that they bought their favourite farmer’s bars! due to the great success of our launch night which also included being sponsored by Belvoir drinks, we are now hoping to have another launch night with the Foreign office in London in December!
I've been popping into Luisa's little shop down in Sneinton Market for the last months. Every experience has been great - the chocolate is fantastic and Luisa is always helpful and making recommendations about her new bars. I have to stress that it's not just the chocolate that is great but also the ethics behind the project - it's directly sourced and made in the shop. So the farmers are being paid properly for their work and we get a high quality product.
I have nothing but good things to share about Luisa's chocolates. Luisa herself is a huge inspiration, just from talking to her and seeing her interact with her customers, you can see just how incredibly passionate she is.
And then there's the chocolates... Oh my... Do yourself a favour and try them! They're AMAZING. These are now my first choice when it comes to chocolates, and there's chocolates to suit everyone. I can't even begin to describe the flavours, and not only that, but the smell of chocolate as you walk in the door is worth a trip in and of itself.
It's easy to locate, and the story behind how it's made - again, well worth a trip down there.
Thanks Luisa, you're a super star and I can't wait to come and get more!!!
Bean to bar chocolate maker.
Quality chocolate. not industrial chocolate out of a factory.
It is not every day I visit a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, craft beer brewery and a coffee roastery all in one day.
I was on my way to Sneinton Market, an area of Nottingham I had not visited before, to find Blend, a coffee shop.
Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street from Wired. The further I walked down the street the seedier it became.
Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes. Though I did pop in Bookwise on the way. Never miss up the opportunity to look in a second hand bookshop.
And that was how I happened upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown of Sneinton Market.
I popped in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.
Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. I have a wander around. Look in a craft beer brewery, a coffee roastery, a coffee shop.
It was then back to Luisa’s. An interesting conversation on chocolate ensued.
I had tasted samples earlier. Another taste. Each one better than before. In essence it is wow. Mind blowing chocolate. I have never before tasted such exquisite chocolate, though I have yet to try Bullion or Bare Bones from Steam Yard. One fruity, maybe cherry like, another more citrus. Mind blowing flavours. The last one I tried, as I hold it in my mouth, the flavour intensifies.
These are not added flavours, these are the intrinsic flavours of the chocolate, what chocolate should taste like, not like Cadbury’s.
A coffee analogy, coffee does not taste like the vile tasting undrinkable coffee served in Costa or Starbuck’s.
Specialty coffee has more flavour notes than red wine, chocolate more flavour notes than specialty coffee.
Why is the chocolate expensive? Why is red wine more expensive than plonk?
Why does specialty coffee attract a higher price than catering supply commodity coffee?
We pay for quality. Wine from a vineyard, a chateau, a year, attracts a higher price than wine in a carton, the vineyard or chateau on the label.
The terroir affects what grows, what we drink, what we eat.
Commodity coffee, commodity chocolate, is quite literally that, a commodity, the price determined on commodity markets.
Fair Trade attracts a tiny premium, barely worth the effort, a marketing scam to make smug Middle Class shoppers feel good, but maintains farmers in poverty as there is no incentive for them to improve.
Direct trade, coffee roasteries are prepared to pay a premium for quality, they work in partnership with the growers to help improve quality.
The same is now happening in chocolate, single origin, direct trade, relationships with the farmers and growers.
Bean-to bar starts at the farm.
Chocolate is rooted in the terroir, bean-to-bar chocolate makers have their fingers figuratively if not literally in the soil.
Luisa Vicinanza-Bedi has her fingers in the soil, she works in partnership with three female cacao farmers in Colombia.
She is also working in partnership with Future Food at University of Nottingham to analyse the microbes that form part of the fermentation of cacao beans to better understand how the flavours are produced.
- cocoa mass — sugar — vanilla
- cocoa mass — cocoa butter — sugar — vanilla
The purists will not allow vanilla, others say ok if enhances the quality of the chocolate. A moot point.
Always check the list of ingredients.
Quality chocolate will be bean-to-bar. Anything that is not bean-to-bar paying a lot of money for someone to buy in chocolate and turn into bars.
Chocolate, high quality single origin bean-to bar chocolate has many subtle flavours, no quality chocolate maker would dream of adding additives. This would be akin to adding syrups to a good coffee.
And never be taken in by a black Great Taste award. It gets plastered on everything. It is absolutely no guarantee of quality. It may be on a quality product, but as likely not.
Visited during Light Day and didn't have a great experience to be honest. My friend and I received very ugly looks by some of the customers who kept staring at us so I announced I was going to stand outside the shop and wait instead but none of the staff members cared. Also, all customers that came after us were served hot chocolate (very watery anyway) before us. Very unfortunate that this lovely place gave us a very uncomfortable experience!
Until I tried Luisa’s chocolates, I didn’t realise there was such a variety of different cocoa beans, each with their own unique flavours. Luisa sources quality beans, from around the world to create extraordinary chocolates. I compare her delicious chocolates to wine due to bursts of notes and flavours - I’m quite partial to the deep plum and zesty bars (the natural flavour of the cocoa).
There’s a bar to suit everyone even if you’re not a dark chocolate fan; because this amazing Chocolate Maker has magically created uncompromising, yummy and creamy tastes without using dairy. Luisa’s shop is a real hot spot for quality chocolates!
Excellent friendly service, very knowledgeable about the impact of cocoa bean sourcing AND the importance of sustainability! BUT most importantly GREAT VEGAN chocolate (especially CASHOLATE!)
Beth and Alec
Absolutely delicious chocolate! The chocolates are all freshly made in the Sneinton shop so it smells divine. Also very ethically sourced chooclate. Luisa has the pictures of all of the cocoa farmers on the walls and can talk about them as individuals. Love it!
Incredible gem of a shop. They're always so friendly and you can see the vegan choc actually being made and the beans being roasted through the viewing panel. The white cashewlete is my favourite and I love to go there as often as I can. Value for money since the farmers are paid better than fair trade. Luisa is doing good things :) worth a visit!
Gosh, Luisa makes the most amazing chocolate! I’ve tried a few different varieties but my absolute favourite is the... White Casholate Turmeric Matcha Tea; absolutely mouth wateringly delicious 😊 Highly recommend anything made by her though!!read more
Amazing experience visiting on Light Night. Gorgeous Hot choc, warm welcome from Luisa & co. and great to hear the... support for the Colombian women growers. The 75% cacao bar is delicious and the individual, beautifully crafted chocolates are delicious!read more
I bought a small selection of these gorgeous chocolates yesterday and they really are something special. The white... chocolate hearts were the best vegan white chocolate I've ever tasted. Absolutely divine. A treat for all the senses!read more
These chocolates are absolutely delicious, and probably the most ethical treat you could get. The casholate is a... particular strength, being creamy and having the right mouthfeel for 'milk' chocolate. I've only been vegan a year, so i remember what dairy chocolate tastes like - this absolutely nails it!
Aside from casholate, the single origin cocoa bars and the individual chocolates are all luxurious and worth every penny.
I just wish I lived nearer!read more
Brought my husband as he’s been missing his galaxy milk chocolate since going vegan 5 weeks ago. He’s now got his... smile back, think he’ll be a regular visitor from now on! Thanks Luisa, Deirdre and David (Sandiacre)read more
Outstanding chocolate. The beans are ethically sourced directly from the farmers - who incidentally are all female.... 💪🏾The beans are then transformed in store by Luisa's talented chocolatiers into the most AMAZING vegan chocolate with NO added refined sugar. Such an inspiring ethos. My new favourite place ♥️read more
Had a selection of chocolate over the weekend.
My three year old daughter loved choosing the heart and duck shaped... ones.
sadly we have finished them in 2 days. they taste amazing, plus hasn't left my daughter hyper. 👍🙊🙈read more
Luisa’s vegan chocolates are absolutely incredible, since choosing to go vegan I haven’t been able to find a... chocolate that has tasted as good until now. I can’t recommend her enough . On top of that Luisa is wonderful... so helpful and takes time to explain about the process . Honestly do yourself a favour and try this chocolate ♥️read more
My son and I popped into the shop yesterday and had our first try, Luisa’s chocolates are absolutely delicious!... Can’t quite believe they’re vegan!! Lovely story behind the brand too, it’s really nice to hear from people who are trying to make a difference in the world not just in it for profit 😄 Highly recommend a visit 🙌read more
Visited Luisa’s chocolate this week and bought a box of chocolate selections and a bar of milk chocolate. Vego milk... chocolate was the best chocolate I’d tasted but hers was amazing! The salted caramel chocolate was my fav out of the selections. Luisa was really friendly and explained about her chocolates. Would HIGHLY recommend these chocolates 😋read more
Worked with Louisa a few times and everyone is always so impressed with her chocolates!! Not only is the service... amazing but the quality is lovely, perfect for gifts or just for yourself!! Would 100% recommend to anyone who is vegan or looking for a small gift!read more
Due to health issues , I made the decision to alter my diet to assist my recovery . I do not consume any refined sugar... or dairy and have found a HUGE benefit by doing this .... HOWEVER ......... I am only human and every now and then I love a sweet treat !
Luisas chocolates are the best that I have tasted and I love the fact that they match my dietary requirements !!!!!
Her customer service is excellent , packaging is superb and pricing is great considering the fact that the ingredients are of the highest quality .
I love them xread more
Went in today ... and the amazing aroma of warm chocolate enveloped me... bought 12 wonderful truffles... and then went... back for six more... for a gift, honestly!
A true artisan... these chocolates are truly sumptuous.read more
Such delicious and beautifully presented chocolates. All cocoa beans are sourced directly with the cocoa growers and so... it is even better for the farmers than fairtrade chocolate. I've bought a box of 6 of the chocolate truffles (lots of different flavours of fillings - salted caramel, coconut, strawberry and apparently she's trialing a passion fruit filling too!) on two occasions and they are honestly so yummy. One was a gift and went down very well. The dark chocolate seems so creamy and luxurious - would definitely recommend 😊read more
Epitomises nottingham’s new found confidence and creativity. Chocolate without any milk fats or oil is like in the... 90s when I discovered coffee wasn’t maxwell house and Nescafé. The Papua New Guinean blows your mind with earthy mushroom notes.read more