We sit down with the multi-talented Gemini Chocolate founder Samuel Chandler to learn a little more about what makes his organic, bean to bar chocolate just so delicious!
Tell us a bit about yourself – How did you go from being a musician to making delicious vegan chocolate?
Before Gemini I was working as a professional musician down in Brighton after completing a masters at the London College of Music. I played in function bands, taught the guitar and did session work which was all great fun but I had got to the point where I felt it wasn’t really going anywhere. I moved back to Yorkshire which is where I grew up to initiate some change. I’ve always loved food and learning about nutrition and healthy eating so I started experimenting with chocolate and a few other things. From here it became clear that chocolate is something that I loved doing and loved making.
Can you talk through your first experience of making chocolate?
At first it was not very good! You have to temper chocolate and that’s quite tricky. I didn’t really understand the science behind it and you have to really know what you’re doing. I had to ask around and get a lot of help but eventually I mastered it. From that point onwards it slowly got better and better and eventually it got to the point where I thought, I can probably sell this!
You’re a bean to bar chocolate, could you talk us through what that means and the process of making chocolate?
Bean to bar basically means I make chocolate starting from the raw cacao bean. The beans are stone-ground at low temperatures with palmyra tree blossom for 24-48 hours. There are loads of different variables involved in those hours. After 48 hours you have chocolate that you then need to temper and can be made into different products.
How do you choose your cacao beans?
There are so many different varieties and flavours to pick from, so I started by trying every single one I could get my hands on! I use peruvian Criollo cacao beans which I thought tasted by far the best of the beans that I could find. A lot of my chocolate is raw so it’s very important that the cacao bean in its raw state tastes really good as you can’t hide behind roasting or anything like that. I think the cacao beans I choose taste really good by themselves so that’s why I use them.
What’s palmyra tree blossom blossom?
It’s basically the crystalized nectar from the flower of the palmyra palm tree. It is a type of sugar, but it’s an unrefined sugar that is incredibly nutritious. I had spent ages trying to find something to replace your normal refined sugar and after lots and lots of research I eventually came across it. Palmyra blossom surprisingly is incredibly high in Vitamin B12 which is really unusual for a plant based product.
Gemini chocolate only contains organic ingredients, why is this?
I find that organic foods just seem to taste better. I wanted to create chocolate that was not only health conscious, but also ethically conscious. Organic food is generally better for the environment and better for people as well. I want to create a great product that does a lot of good so I thought it has to be organic.
What’s your proudest achievement and biggest challenge so far?
It’s quite hard to pick just one but I think the great taste awards were a fantastic achievement.
What’s been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?
I’ve found a lot of people aren’t really aware of the raw aspect of chocolate and how it can be healthy and also being vegan has surprised a lot of people. I’ve enjoyed the process but I’ve found that converting people has been a bit of a challenge. Helping people to realise that vegan chocolate can taste great was definitely tricky at first!
Do you have a favourite bar?
It tends to vary, at the moment, it’s between Coco and hazel
If you could go back to when you started, what advice would you give yourself?
Just be patient and don’t worry about the little things that go wrong, often those things can lead to better things. It’s all part of the journey, don’t worry about the bad things that happen as they’re all part of the learning process.
What’s next for Gemini?
We’re setting up a subscription service on the website which should launch in April and we’re looking to grow our online sales. I love talking directly to customers so one day I’d love to get a shop, or maybe two, you never know! That’s something I aspire to doing so it’s what I’m aiming towards.
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If anyone who reads this is thinking of making their own chocolate, where’s a good place to start?
I think a good place to start is trying to learn the tempering process. Buy some chocolate, melt it up and learn to temper it. I think this is really important, if you can’t do this you can’t do anything and it’s a great way to understand how chocolate works and its chemistry. It can be difficult at first but learning tempering is a great way of better understanding chocolate.
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Check out our range of Gemini Chocolates or find out more about Gemini at GeminiChocolate.com