Crafters Q&A – Coco Chocolatier, Edinburgh, Scotland

We’ve met the lovely fellows of Coco Chocolatier at the 2015 Specialty & Fine Food Fair in London – the mecca of artisan food. Although there were over 80 chocolate producers at the fair to showcase their goods, saying that Coco stood out would be an understatement! Excellent raw ingredients, elegant and playful packaging, and hard to beat flavour combinations (Haggis spice anyone? Gin & tonic? Hazelnut & Isle of Skye sea salt?) are part of the secret recipes for those scrumptious bars. We had the chance to talk to their managing director, Calum Hagerty, and are excited to share with you their story and magic in making one of the best chocolates of Scotland and beyond.

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FC: Hi Calum – could you introduce yourself and tell us the story of “Coco Chocolatier”?

My name is Calum Hagerty and I am the managing director of Coco Chocolatier UK since 2012. After doing a degree in business and working for few years in the Edinburgh fire brigade I felt the urge to change my career and look for something in the independent business sector. That’s when mine and Coco’s paths crossed. Since then I’m obsessed with chocolate and became a subject geek.

The Coco story starts in 2004 when an Australian designer/chocolatier opens her shop in Edinburgh. The transformation into Coco Chocolatier happened 3 years ago when a lucky buyer was able to put his creative ideas into the Business. It was a breath of fresh air as the recipes didn’t change since the opening and suddenly everyone was able to come up with new ideas. We’ve also changed the branding to give each product a unique packaging. Now we’re excited about opening our third shop in Edinburgh so the story continues.

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FC: Tell us a bit more about your different products. What makes them so special and unique?

Our Chocolate is hand-crafted, mostly organic and always delicious. We are famous for our crazy-flavoured chocolate bars. You’ll find award winning Gin & Tonic or Rose & Black Pepper among them. Have you heard of our Haggis Spices dark chocolate bar? It’s a vegan delight that stays true to traditional Scottish spicing and even McSween people love it!

What’s special about our product is that we infuse our chocolate with organic essential oils which gives an incredible depth of flavour.

We’re also famous for our hot chocolates that are 70% dark or organic white and can be made bespoke.

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FC: The chocolate world is booming right now! What was the most effective method(s) to grow your community/presence/sales? What did not work at all? In other words, what you wish you knew when you started?

I think that I’ve waited too long with making bold decisions like changing the packaging. I was too afraid to loose customers who were faithful to Coco. Now I see that if you follow your vision people would recognise and respect that.

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FC: What are the other chocolate producers or projects you are really excited about?

I really respect Lauden Chocolates. Their designs and flavours can surprise the British palate. I’m also finding Belgian chocolatiers endlessly inspiring. Their attention to detail, focus in building displays and the whole culture of packing gifts in endless layers of packaging is charming. It’s always an adventure to go there. My favourite is the chocolate artist Patrick Roger. I also like the quirkiness of LA based Compartes.

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FC: What’s next for Coco Chocolatier? Any future projects or products you’d like to share with us?

We are opening our third retail place in Edinburgh this autumn. We were lucky enough to get a lovely small unit in Stockbridge. We are also constantly modernising our chocolate kitchen in Summerhall to make chocolatier’s work easier.
This year we will also introduced a new range of truffles. The flavours are top secret but please look at our website for details. There’s a lot going on for the Coco team!

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FC: Finally, a last advice for anyone who wants to start in the artisan food business, but are too scared/shy, don’t have time/money, or simply don’t know where to start?

Be your Brand. Do what you love and love your customers. Work with the best people you can find and do your best to make them happy. That sounds really simple but it’s the best piece of advise I can give.

FC: Thanks a lot!

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