“Thanks! Oh wait, is it vegan?“
Amongst the tinsel and baubles, chocolate is also a regular guest at annual Christmas festivities. But an ever-growing list of dietary requirements can make this familiar member more like an awkward relative.
With this movement in mind, we took the opportunity to interview Juliet Sampson, Founder of London’s first vegan-only chocolate cafe, Copperhouse Chocolates about her new retail business.
Firstly, can you please clarity for readers, what part of the supply chain you operate within? Are you farming, sourcing, producing, distributing etc? There’s an important distinction between chocolate producers and chocolatiers.
We are a chocolatier. However we do pay more attention to sourcing than many chocolatiers – we like to be in contact with the producers as much as we can and have visited some of the farms.
This is in contrast to, for example, Belgian chocolate, where you generally have no idea where the cocoa was grown.
Vegan chocolate isn’t a new idea but exclusive vegan chocolate retail is – and you’re the only store in London – so why is now the time to have a retail presence?
It’s mainly a personal reason – I am vegan, and have been for about twenty years. I wanted to open a chocolate shop and wasn’t comfortable profiting from dairy. With the timing, I feel that attitudes towards veganism have changed enough in the last few years that I can try to make a success of the thing that I want to do.
What adjacent industries are you looking to and learning from in the growing chocolate retail market?
We are always learning from other food businesses. In particular, I think speciality coffee has cleared a path for artisan hot chocolate to follow in.
Why aren’t there more vegan chocolate shops in London? Why haven’t other brands taken action in this space?
Some chocolate brands may be starting to add more vegan products, however if they have an existing customer base for their milk-chocolate products and don’t have the motivation to drop this then it’s probably a big leap. It’s a combination of a couple of niche markets, I’m happy to be (hopefully) leading the way.
Do you see this set to change over 2020? If so, how?
Maybe some will be watching how I do! I wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in vegan counters or designated areas within existing shops, although I’m not sure about more dedicated fully vegan chocolate shops.