RACHEL FOX

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Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, Nottingham

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I think I have found my new favourite chocolates! Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates specialises in artisan chocolates that are beautifully crafted and most importantly delicious. This is Nottingham’s first bean-to-bar chocolate store: Luisa is the first to complete the whole process from grinding the beans to selling directly to consumers. The chocolates may be vegan, gluten-free, paleo and contain no refined sugars, however you would never know; they taste amazing!

The shop is located in Unit 7, Avenue A in Sneinton Market. The space is bright, white and open and has a welcoming atmosphere. The area is clean and inviting with photographs on the walls of the suppliers of the beans. I liked the black-board sign outside the shop: “The best chocolate in town happens to be vegan”, which I definitely agree with! Chocolates are made on the premises in small batches, Parisian-style, so they'll always be fresh and high quality.

I love the fact that Luisa makes all of the chocolates from scratch and by hand. Unlike many chocolatiers who buy their chocolate pre-made and melt it down, this chocolate is made with cacao beans sourced directly from farmers. Luisa directly sources the cacao beans from the Solomon Island as they do not have any additives, preservatives or artificial flavourings. These beans are roasted to produce her creations, including uniquely crafted bars and creamy ganache truffles.

It is extremely clear that Luisa is passionate about her chocolate craft and the cacao beans she uses. She explained to me that she is very much committed to buying beans directly from the farmers. This ensures that the farmers get a better than fair price for their prized beans. Working closely with the farmers themselves means that Luisa can build up a close relationship with her suppliers, with the aim of supporting their futures, families and empower local communities alongside building her own business.

Luisa went on to explain her processes, all of which fascinated me. She slowly roasts the beans to reveal all the hidden flavours, winnowing them to extract the cacao nibs. The next step is grinding and conching where the cacao nibs are ground to slowly develop a smooth cocoa liquor. The crisp dark shells are then produced and filled with a range of indulgent natural ingredients using coconut sugar, coconut milk, Luisa’s own vegan caramel, sticky date, peanut butter, nuts and fruit. She also hand tempers the chocolates on a revolving marble slab, to ensure the snap and glossy finish.

I was most drawn to the truffles in the store. Lucia presented four large trays of quality, hand-crafted individual truffles, out the fridges, for me to select from. There was a choice of four flavours: Sticky Date, Ginger & Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Creamy Coconut Ganache (a healthier version of a Bounty) and Peanut Butter Crunch. I went for the Salted Caramel that had a chocolate shell enveloping smooth homemade vegan caramel heart and the Peanut Butter Crunch which was the perfect combination of salt and sweet with a crunchy peanut butter centre. I will definitely be going back to also try her pure, simple and completely ethical 100% pure chocolate bar!

What initially drew me to the brand and the shop was Luisa’s used of 100% natural ingredients which can be enjoyed with the knowledge that the beans used are able to be traced back to their organic, natural farms, resulting in chocolate that is not only delicious to eat but ethically produced. However after visiting the space and speaking to Luisa herself, I fell more in love with the brand and her ethics. She is transparent in every aspect of her business and is so genuine; her love of chocolate making drives her work. Luisa has an amazing story and connects with her business, which creates a lovely personal brand. She is the perfect example that if you have an ambition, it is possible if you keep persevering and refining your craft.

We also have a very similar view on diet and our approaches. We were discussing veganism and our views and we both came to the conclusion that a flexible approach to food is the best way for us personally, while cutting down meat consumption and overall intake.

Luisa currently sells mostly business-to-business but she is looking to expand her shop and attract more likeminded consumers, vegans, plant-based eating or just those who have a strong love of amazing quality chocolate. If you are in the area, please do check it out; I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

Rachel

FoodRachel Fox