Chocolate lovers' heaven is soon to open in the capital as the Cocoa Press launches The Wellington Chocolate Factory.
In a transformed old warehouse space in inner-city Eva St, chocolatier Rochelle Harrison and business partner Gabriel Davidson have set up an open-to-the-public factory for handmade pure chocolate that is 70 per cent cocoa and 30 per cent sugar, all fairtrade and organic.
Harrison is a pastry chef and chocolatier with years of experience working at Wellington eateries like the Matterhorn and White House.
She launched Cocoa Press four years ago, producing small-batch chocolate using fairtrade cocoa and sugar.
Davidson owned cafes and a coffee roastery and started drinking-cocoa company Mofo Deluxe while living in Melbourne, supplying cafes with additive-free powder for hot choco lates.
The pair combined their love of high-quality ingredients and belief in fair trade principles to start The Wellington Chocolate Factory two months ago and doors are due to open on December 16.
"I was all inspired after a trip to New York to open New Zealand's first bean to bar small-batch chocolate factory but then when I was at Commonsense Organics I saw Cocoa Press and realised someone was already doing it - Rochelle," David son said. "We got together, had a few wines and decided to build on what she'd already established."
On her own, she was making about 10 kilograms of chocolate a week. In the new factory, with $200,000 investment in equipment, about 200kg could be produced every week.
The cocoa beans come from four locations - Peru, which Davidson recently visited to meet farmers in person, Madagascar, Trinidad and the Dominican Republic.
"Like with wine and coffee, all the different regions have different soils and climates so there are different flavour characteristics . . . Mada gascar is like berries, Trinidad is a fresher, herbaceous mint and lychee flavour," Davidson said.
"We don't use any fillers or additives, there is no magic. We're just sourcing the best beans and trying to bring out the individual flavour characteristics.
"We will do other flavours like organic milk chocolate, hazelnut, and salted caramel but our purpose is single origin chocolate."
Retail outlets like Moore Wilsons and Commonsense Organics will stock 75g bars for about $15.
Harrison and Davidson predict wholesale will take about 70 per cent of production, with the balance sold over the counter at the factory - slabs of fresh chocolate cut to order and sold by the gram, deli-style.
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