A few weeks ago I discovered Lucocoa Chocolate, an independent bean to bar company based in London and run by Ama Uzowuru. (Duvet) scrolling through their feed it soon became apparent that we were on similar journeys; both with a great award winning product, both operating from home and both with full time 9-5 jobs in completely different fields. Within seconds I was commenting on her photos (legitimate comments) and, very soon after, ordering a selection of all 6 bars via her website. (How could I choose just one!)
The chocolates were (sh)amazing, each having a unique and distinctive flavour and all so very smooth. Thinking back now I guess I felt a sense of pride. This amazing woman, a woman of colour, was representing a professional, creative brand and doing it with aplomb. I’m man enough to say that I shed a non-silent tear!
We exchanged pleasantries via social media and planned a meet in Farringdon so we could get the skinny on each other. Connecting with like minded individuals is key for any small business owner who runs all aspects of the business. Think one-man-band. Connecting in a genuine tinder-free format affords a chance to exchange stories, learn from each others mistakes and inject some much need gusto to keep driving forward. Yes it is all a bit pre-mobile phones, maybe even cassette tapes (google it), but the touchy feely stuff is good for the soul.
So Ama’s parents are from Nigeria but she is a Londoner through and through. East London to be exact – the birth place of Grime music (a conversation for another time) – Like me she remembers her youth in London and the places that people are now falling over to eat, see and do the latest thing being a far cry from the dives they were when we were growing up. You couldn’t pay us to go to them back in the day! If you know me you know I’m all about the silver linings though and most definitely exposure to the best and worst of London in some of these gritty areas made Ama streetwise as well as determined to do well.
“I was a pretty good kid (I think…looking back…I hope). I was more into playing football and programming computers I really wanted to be a computer programmer or an aeronautical engineers. I did Computer Science at uni and Engineering masters… I am none of those two.” She admits with a hearty laugh.
“WE DECIDED THAT WE WANTED TO MAKE BEAN TO BAR… MEANING THAT WE CONTROLLED EVERY STEP”
— AMA – LUCOCOA
So how did all of this lead to Chocolate? Well despite being inundated with choice, there aren’t many companies that make in house from the cocoa bean itself, she reveals.
“We decided that we wanted to make bean to bar… meaning that we controlled every step from the finding and importing cacao beans, to roasting which helps develop the flavours, right down to the the wrapping of the bars. Each batch of chocolate will take around 3-4 days depending on the bean.”
I always say you can taste the love in our gluten free vegan doughnuts and you can most definitely taste it in Ama’s chocolate. We sieve out the blood, sweat and tears of course! What really gives Lucocoa the edge though is what Ama did next…
“As we were going to make chocolate the ‘hard way’ we thought why not change it up and add sugars that are kinder to you. Enter coconut sugar and lucuma two ingredients which we used loads before we started making chocolate. Coconut sugar has a low GI and lucuma is a superfood that can be used as a sugar alternative so we though it was better for us to use those instead.”
Coconut sugar definitely grabs the headlines when it comes to natural alternatives to refined sugar. The Cristiano Ronaldo or Madonna of sweetners. Lucuma however not so much – A bit like Christian Ronald or “Mad” Donna from two doors down. (Who and who…? Exactly.) It’s a orange fleshed fruit that hails from South America. Kind of the love child of a mango and sweet potato. It has a maple taste to it and is ram packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The pairing of this with Lucocoa’s carefully selected beans means that this chocolate is unlike any you have ever tasted. Pair it with a good coffee and you have a little piece of heaven. Don’t just take my word for it, the critics think so too with Lucocoa scooping an incredible 3 awards, in such a competitive market, in just over two years of trading. Now if that doesn’t call for an mc hammer dance i don’t know what does!
What does the future have in store for Lucocoa? Well they will definitely be available in more locations and are looking to expand their facilities to cope with the demand.
You can find them currently in 15 locations across the capital including WholeFoods, Raw Press and Harvest, as well as purchase direct from them online. But you can go one better and win yourself something that money cannot buy! Keep your eyes peeled for a very special giveaway from both Ama and myself very soon!