The Rise of Craft Chocolate: Leading The Movement For a Better Tasting World
With growing attention on where food comes from, the world’s consumers want more from their products than ever before. The last 20 years have seen the coffee, wine, whiskey and beer industries all raise their game in quality, educating people on why it’s worth paying more for a premium product. Now it’s chocolate’s turn, and one Wellington based business is leading the movement.
Opened in 2014, The Wellington Chocolate Factory (WCF) has carved out a reputation for excellence. Founders Gabe Davidson and Rochelle Williamson, both passionate entrepreneurs, wanted to create a premium craft chocolate business that was grounded in integrity at every stage of the process - from bean to bar.
“I was always interested in how to do business in a way where there are no weak links in the chain, so that every single part of the business is a force for good. And why not, if we can find a way to do that why wouldn’t we?” says Gabe.
WCF work with farmers from all over the world to bring the best single-origin beans to Wellington where they spend a month roasting, grinding and tempering them using traditional artisan methods. With lots of careful and hard work, the beans go from being a raw chocolate liquor to unique bars of WCF chocolate which have won national and global recognition for flavour and quality.
But WCF’s commitment to a quality product isn’t just in their beans. WCF also recycle almost everything, use sustainable materials, and produce packaging that endorses New Zealand art - with every wrapper showcasing a local artist’s design. As a result, their chocolate costs around $13.50 per bar, with some of the range going up to $20 per bar - significantly more than your average bar of chocolate.
The price point hasn’t put people off though, in fact Gabe believes they wouldn’t have been successful if they hadn’t gone down the ethical route. “We’ve done better financially focussing on ethics than if we hadn’t - I really believe that to be the case. It’s a no brainer that if you’re going to do business, do it the right way and if it means you need to charge a little bit more then fine, people will still generally pay it.”
For Gabe, ethics at every stage of the business go hand-in-hand with the quality of the product: “I think it makes smart business sense because consumers today are incredibly interested in the origin of what they buy. So if we can lead the pack in transparency, it means more people are going to buy our chocolate, we can get higher quality beans, make better tasting chocolate, and ultimately help more farmers - everybody wins.”
High standards are evidently an intrinsic part of WCF’s business model, and the positive impacts of that show no sign of slowing down.
“The quality of our chocolate is why people seek us out, but being ethical creates a general culture in the business that creates more success. People feel good whether they’re eating the chocolate, or whether they’re working here making it.
"I love it when people find out about our ethics by accident, without it being up in their face, and they’re like ‘What? You did what? You do what!? That’s cool!’ - and then they start talking about it" say Gabe.
Gabe and his team at WCF are making big steps to expand the business in the next few years, looking at new ways to source beans, produce the best tasting chocolate bar in the world and push the boundaries in craft chocolate to make a world taste better.
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