FOOD & DRINK, HOME GROWN TALENT

Cocoa Bocoa: East Ham’s own artisan chocolatier

First there was the good enough to eat instagram feed – all brightly coloured yummy looking choccie’s covered in sparkles and rose petals and pretty things and hashtagged as #eastham. We used the heart eyed emoji to respond (Natch). Then there was the surprise encounter at the last Greatfield Market with a stall selling beautifully crafted chocolates. All these clues point to one thing… ARTISAN CHOCOLATE MADE IN EAST HAM!

That’s right, E6 now has its very own artisan chocolatier selling online and at local markets…. East Blam caught up with Cocoa Bocoa to talk East Ham hang outs (The Grill, on High Street North gets a thumbs up), Sustainable cocoa, the  best chocolate to have with your coffee and flavour combinations that have been quite literally dreamt up. We also got taste a few of their favourite flavours too. Market research, we assure you, dear readers… we only do it for the story #properjournalists.

Scroll down for the full interview (you are going to love it, these guys are totes profesh), and our ‘review’ (ok, we’ll tell you now, we go all out with the full five stars!).

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The Interview:

EB: So we hear you are a local lady, which corner of East Ham are you from and how long have you been living in the area?

CB: Yes, I’m a born and bred Newham-er! I’ve lived in East Ham all my life, though I worked in central London until I started COCOA BOCOA. Once you get to know the area you find there’s a lot to do in East Ham. I love that I’m near the bustle of the high street, the local beauty that is Central Park and the long stretch of Barking Road for when you want a stroll.

EB: Cocoa Bocoa is the newest chocolate kid on the block and we love hearing about East Hammer’s doing inspirational stuff. What made you decide to get your chocolate juices flowing? How did you get started and who is the team behind CB?

CB: I like being called the ‘newest chocolate kid on the block’! My love of chocolate started young. My mum would sit me on the kitchen worktop as she baked these fantastic creations and cooked loving meals she learned from my grandmother. As I watched her, I learned a lot about baking and got to help out too. In my family, the kitchen is the centre of the home, and once I was old enough to find my way around it, chocolate naturally fell into that fold. I would spend hours creating little chocolate delights like truffles and wrap them up to present to guests.

I always wanted to own my own Patisserie, creating and selling my chocolates to the world, but life took a different turn for a while as I went on to read Politics at university and worked as a social housing development researcher. Years later when I embarked on motherhood and gave up working, I realised my dreams could come true and lo and behold, I’m East Ham’s resident Chocolatier!

I am the Chocolatier in Chief of course, but I work with a team of people who do the design, photography and marketing. The tasters of course love their job! I love that it’s my own little business for now but I do hope that sometime in the future, COCOA BOCOA will expand and be able to hire some chocolatiers to join the COCOA BOCOA family.

EB: You have some pretty Jazzy flavour combo’s… Tell us about your chocolate – How do you create your flavours? Where are the ingredients from? Is it organic?

CB: It is a universally acknowledged truth that chocolate makes you happy and the COCOA BOCOA philosophy is to create flavours that enhance that happy experience. My flavours are inspired from wonderful taste sensations from my travels, the food I grew up with, and ideas that pop into my head which I go on to experiment with. At least one of my flavours came to me in a dream!

Sometime in the future I hope to be not just a chocolatier but also a ‘chocolate maker’, producing chocolate from scratch, more commonly known as ‘bean-to-bar’. Being able to make my own chocolate means flavour combinations are limitless!

From a young age, I was introduced to the finest chocolates from across the world, from Switzerland to Belize, from Nicaragua to Belgium. I believed then and still do that quality really matters. I spent months going back and forth to Europe to find the finest and perfect quality dark, milk, white chocolate which would be popular with most people but also to a find a supplier who supports cocoa farmers that grow sustainable cocoa.

COCOA BOCOA has a ‘support local’ and a green attitude to business. These were ideals I grew up with and are important to me. Everything that is created is made fresh to order so there is nothing wasted or sitting on the shelf unnecessarily. Where possible, our packaging is recyclable. Both as a business and as an individual, supporting local businesses is so important. To support and raise the standard of our community, we must support local businesses. We try our best to source our non-chocolate ingredients as locally as possible, be it fresh double cream for our Truffles or fresh raspberries for our Peanut & Raspberry Truffles.

EB: So, on to East Hammer Hot Tips: Tell us about your favourite East Ham hideout? Coffee shops you love? Sweet treat recommendations from a sugar connoisseur? What do we NEED to know? 

CB: My favourite East Ham hideout has got to be The Grill Restaurant on High Street North. It’s one of those places that don’t excite you when you walk in, but as soon as the food arrives and hits your mouth, you are more than impressed. I have introduced friends, colleagues, family, even strangers to The Grill, and they all return for more because the food is just that good!

The best places tend to be the ones that are a little hidden, like Coffera in East Ham Shopping Hall. It’s a great little place to have a coffee and samosa while watching the world pass you by.

[EB editors note: we can 100% confirm that the Samosa’s from Coffera are a force to be reckoned with. Yummy in our Tummy]

EB: Final question…. It’s a toughie – Dark Chocolate or White Chocolate?

CB: Definitely a tough one! If it’s to accompany a coffee, I want something equally strong and luxurious so a brick of dark chocolate and cherry. If I’m meeting friends, I’ll usually take a pack of milk chocolate coconut bites to share. But when I’m feeling indulgent, then white chocolate is my go-to!

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Top marks from us: The perfect special occasion chocolate

All in all, we are sure you will agree that Cocoa Bocoa are sooooooo nice, and we can assure you that their chocolate delivers more of the same.

We tried the Mango and White Chocolate Bites, the Dark forest Bites (£8), their Macadamia Crunch milk chocolate (£7) and also some of the Lebanese Rose Bar (£7). We also grabbed a bag of mixed ‘Barks’ (which are beautiful thin slices and chunks of CB’s flavoured chocolates – a bit like the chocco equivalent of a bag of broken biscuits).

Cocoa Bocoa is up there with the Green & Black’s of this world. Sweet, creamy milk chocolate, intense dark chocolate with just the right amount of bitter bite. Our favourite was the Macadamia nut crunch, because the salty nuts and creamy melt in your mouth milk chocolate made it impossible to stop eating it.

Beautifully presented, they arrive in a hand stamped paper bag with a hand written label, all tied delicately with Ribbon. This is the perfect gift or special occasion chocolate so it does come with a special occasion price tag, but the quality is absolutely worth it.

Top marks from us!

Get your Cocoa Bocoa Easter Eggs at the next Greatfield Market, East Ham

And the best thing about it…. Easter is on it’s way (that traditional time when British people from all religious denominations come together to worship the great chocolate egg gods, and eat as much sugar as the human body can handle) and next weekend is the Spring edition of the Greatfield Market (Sat 25th March, 11am – 2pm), where Cocoa Bocca have a stall so you can try their delicious choccie goodness for yourself….

On your marks, get set…

The deets:

What: Luxury independent chocolate, made in East Ham

Where: Currently an online retailer – you place an order via their facebook page (below) but you can also find them at the quarterly Greatfield Community Market

£££: Prices from £3

Linky: Find them on Facebook: facebook.com/COCOABOCOA/ or Instagram @cocoa_bocoa or Twitter @cocoabocoa

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