Meet Our Suppliers: Seed and Bean
Let’s be honest, as the weather grows chillier and the nights darker, we all love a sweet treat to keep our spirits high. Luckily for you, our friends over at Seed & Bean have our online store looking like Willy Wonka’s factory with their kaleidoscope of colourful organic chocolate bars. I joined Chief Chocolatier, Oli Shorts, to mull over everything from their sustainability practices to their outlandish flavours.
Where does the name stem from?
“Well put simply, it is in part homage to our original concept of covering seeds and beans with chocolate but we quickly realised that this process wasn’t going to be a viable business. Also, when you consider that a seed creates a cocoa bean that then creates the chocolate, the name is actually quite fitting.
We briefly thought about changing it but realised it’s where our history lies and who doesn’t love a quirky brand name these days?”
Why choose to be an organic company rather than opt for conventional methods?
“Life would have been much simpler if we didn’t go down the organic route! However, the company was started with an ethical ethos, ensuring that the products we buy are bought at fair trade prices and are of the highest quality in their area. No additives, no artificial anything.
Like everything organic, you know that you’re getting the highest quality product and so, it’s going to cost a bit more. But for the taste difference alone, it’s 100% worth it. When we’re met with complications we just stand by the brand’s ethos, great-tasting chocolate created ethically and there are no compromises on that.”
You say you go fairtrade whenever possible. Why is this important?
"We say ‘fairtrade when we can’ but the truth is that all of the chocolate in our bars is actually fairtrade. The only reason our entire range isn’t classified as fairtrade is because of the extra ingredients. Take, for instance, the salt in our Cornish Sea Salt bar which naturally, is sourced from Cornwall where fairtrade standards don’t exist due to strict UK laws that ensure everyone is receiving a regulated wage. The same can be said for our French raspberries.
We like to ensure that all of our ingredients meet both our taste and ethics standards. We rest easy knowing that every step of our supply chain has been audited to the highest possible standards. In an industry where the fairtrade message is being diluted due to large organisations creating their own certifications which may not be as stringent and therefore a bit of wiggle room, it’s essential to us to stick to our roots.”
Tell me about your sustainable packaging.
"To my knowledge, we were the first British chocolatiers to change to fully compostable packaging. It definitely came at a cost but we’ve stuck with it and have seen a lot of companies follow in our footsteps in recent years. Our commitment to compostable packaging does create issues when we have looked at expanding the product range. Many of our customers wonder why we haven’t branched out to Easter eggs and Christmas advent calendars and the answer is currently the compostable packaging simply wouldn’t be able to allow this. Whilst other brands may be able to offer these products, we are sure they aren’t abiding by the rigorous sustainable principles that we were built on."
The design definitely stands out. What is the inspiration?
"There are so many chocolate brands out there wherever you go. Whether that is a supermarket, health food store, deli, or farm shop, you’re competing with loads of other brands and we want to stand out on the shelf. We think our fun, exciting design and bright colours reflect the various wacky flavours that are in our range."
Why do you only operate with small batches?
"Our reason for sticking to small batch sizes is to do with taste. This allows us to better control the flavour combinations and ensure that every single bar is up to our high standards. We’re just happy that we have a means of creating delicious bars that we know our customers will love every time."
You’re known for stocking some unique flavours. Is there a combination you originally thought wouldn’t work but definitely does?
"Well, Sea Salt & Lime is my absolute go-to flavour. I’ve found that when you mention lime in chocolate it doesn’t seem to resonate with people. This is until they try it and are blown away. It’s such an amazing bar and for me, it’s the standout. We also have Mandarin & Ginger, Lemon & Cardamom, and Lavender. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t for everyone but our customers are always wanting to try new things, not just a different percentage of cocoa or another orange tinge. They want to experience these flavours and understand that they actually can work with chocolate. We pride ourselves on providing a quirky new bar that you won’t get from a conventional brand."
So, if you have a close one in mind who would adore a bar of Seed and Bean this Christmas, or if all this talk of chocolate has got your mouth watering, check out our delectable range now.