Chocolate heaven

27/08/2013 - 14:44
Brad Wright, operations manager of Marimba World Chocolate, provides his views on the latest drinking chocolate trends and offers suggestions on how to perfect your hot chocolate menu.

The popularity of high quality drinking chocolate is currently booming. As consumers are becoming more aware of single-origin chocolate and its intense quality, it is creating a real opportunity for coffee shop and café owners to up the ante and provide customers with a hot chocolate experience that will keep customers returning, and provide attractive profit potential too:

What are the latest trends in chocolate?

Walk into any food retailer or supermarket today and you will see that single-origin chocolate is really making its mark.  Consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to understanding chocolate quality, origin and flavour.  Go down any chocolate isle and you will now see own-brand, single-origin chocolate bars, which is a big indication that the appreciation of quality chocolate has filtered through to a wider audience.

Why has drinking chocolate become such a big trend?

Drinking chocolate has always been popular, however reflecting the trend towards single-origin chocolate; this is where the action is really happening.  Consumers are looking for a more indulgent, real chocolate drink when visiting a coffee shop or bar; something better than they could make at home for example.  They like the fact that a drink made from real chocolate creates a drinking experience that is superior to powdered or flavoured alternatives.

What tips would you suggest for perfecting a drinking chocolate menu?

As people have become coffee ‘connoisseurs’, I believe this will also be the case for hot chocolate.   Therefore, customers will like to understand more about what chocolate is being used in their drinks.

Therefore, a more fulsome description of the hot chocolate product used will be appreciated, so instead of simply advertising a ‘hot chocolate’, explain that the drink is made with real flakes of chocolate from single-origin Ecuadorian cocoa; this will create a drinking chocolate menu with a difference.

Another interesting element is to offer more than one variety.  At Marimba, we offer three varieties in our Hot Chocolate Melt range; white (31% Sanchez cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic), milk (43% Criollo and Trinitario cocoa beans from Venezuela )and dark (71% Ecuadorian Nacional cocoa beans). Customers love the fact that there is a premium chocolate menu to choose from.

What is the business doing that's different this year?

This year we are introducing a brand new range of flavour syrups that have been specifically created to complement our Hot Chocolate Melt range.  The syrups are being tested in customer sites now with a view to them officially launching in the autumn.  There are six in total: Chilli, Zesty Orange, Natural Mint, Salted Caramel, Hazelnut Praline and Cerisette Cherry. It’s about offering customers the chance to get creative with their hot chocolate and try something completely new.

Why should operators consider putting drinking chocolate on their menus?

To start with, no additional equipment is needed to make hot chocolate drinks using real chocolate; just a milk steamer that is on most coffee machines; plus there is no mess.  They are easy to serve and create attractive new revenue opportunities for your business by ultimately enabling you to add a new ‘range’ to your drinks menu. And, not just any range, but one that chocolate-lovers will keep coming back for.

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