Cocoa Runners | The taste cartel

05 Jan 2016
2 min read
FOUR speaks to Spencer Hyman, creative purveyor of the finest chocolate in the world. His award-winning company, Cocoa Runners, brings you the highest grade, first single estate handcrafted chocolate from all over the planet, tailor made to suit your tastes and delivered to your front door…what more could you ask for?

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Born in London, grew up commuting between Huddersfield, London and Surrey.

How did you get into your line of work?

By a happy accident – when in Japan (translating monopoly into a Japanese video game and selling cabbage patch dolls), I learnt Japanese with a friend who introduced me to Valhrona and I fell in love with chocolate. I then went to Amazon to set up their Video Games, Toys, Software and Electronics store in UK, France and Germany….and then 15 years later found a way to combine tech and chocolate withCocoaRunners.

Where did you get your inspiration from for this project?

In 2012 when travelling in the States, I was overwhelmed when I discovered a burgeoning chocolate revolution: a wave of new, artisan chocolate makers had arrived. I began to widen my search, in the hope of finding other special chocolate creators in the world. There was nowhere to buy these bars in the UK, soCocoaRunnerswas born. In my search for the finest chocolate, I have sampled over 4000 different bars from around the world, and I’m continually looking for new makers and bars.

What lasting impression do you hope people with get from the chocolate you sell?

WOW!This tastes amazing.I need to get more of this!

Why do you think it is important to champion single estate chocolate?

Single estate chocolate tastes great. It’s great for the planet (you need to protect and preserve the rainforest to grow greatcocoa). It’s great to savour (you’ll eat less as you want to savour not scoff). And it’s happening NOW. Three years ago there were 5 “bean to bar” single estate chocolate makers in the UK – now there are over 30. In the US it’s grown from 25 to 250. And we’ve makers from Iceland to Japan popping up too…

Top FOUR chocolate choices?

There are loads of makers everyone should try … here are a few from different geographies

Omnom |Iceland– Milk of Madagascar

Hoja Verde |Ecuador– 72% Cacao Fino De Aroma

Menakao |Madagascar– Salt N Nibs

Original Beans |Switerland/Bolivia -Beni Wild Harvest

Do you have any future collaborations and projects lined-up you could tell us about?

We have lots coming up! DuringChristmas, we partnered with wine merchants Corney and Barrow to create chocolate and wine hampers. The bars and bottles have been chosen toperfectlycomplement each other so it wasperfect forChristmas!We also launchedour monthly Chocolate Salon at theWinemakersClub duringDecember. I’ll be hosting each night and introducing the world of craft chocolate,explainingwhy its so special and sampling plenty of chocolate with guests.Finally we have the Craft Chocolate Collection -our firstCocoaRunnersproduct made in collaboration with Jordis. Chocolate covered walnuts,cocoabeans, coffee beans andcrystallisedginger. They’re the perfect little chocolate snacks.

In terms of top chocolate trends what is hot on your radar at the moment?

  • Dark Milk
  • White chocolate
  • 100% chocolate

Canyou give us any chocolate pairing suggestions that are perhaps a little unusual, or just unexpectedly spectacular?

100%Cocoabars with your morning coffee is the perfect start to the day.AlsoPapua New Guinea from Omnom or Pitch Dark Fiji (both of which are smokey thanks to the beans being dried near open fires on account of the rain) with any Islay whisky, which also have a smokey, peatyflavour.

Find out more about Cocoa Runners chocolate here…