|The Hazel Mountain Story|
I always love it when I find something a little different and it exceeds my expectations. Hazel Mountain is another one of these gems. The chocolate is tasty I had to sample of course in name of research. I like dark chocolate so they do a good one of these too.
Where: Hazel Mountain Chocolate,
Why: An Irish bean to chocolate factory in the middle of the Burren with a great organic cafe is an unusual but great find.
What: organic cafe, chocolate making factory, tours, award winning chocolate, events and shop.
How: The factory is in Bellharbour in Clare. So I came from Galway head for on the N67 for Kinvara and keep going towards Ballyvaughan. Then take L1014 for around a mile and a half.
Whats there: In the shop there is a range of chocolate bars and different types of truffles for sale. Within the shop there is a window where you can see employees hard at work making the chocolate. There is an amazing range of flavours and types of chocolate. This looks to me like a small factory but there seems to be enormous drive and passion behind it too. There are tours,events are sometimes run as well check out the website below. The urban woodsman collection are on sale in a room off the shop and you can see the different types of cocoa beans and another step in the production process where the cocoa beans are stone ground and roasted.
How much: This chocolate is not cheap. As the factory manufactures bean to bar its a complex process but it is good quality and award winning. Also, there is less sugar in this chocolate then commerical brands and more cocoa solids.So when the bars say x percentage cocoa solids it really uses that much of the bean. I had brunch in the farm to fork cafe. The presentation was excellent and so pretty. They grow their own vegetables as well for the cafe. It was delicious and super filling. I had a chamomile tea and was served by Elisa and another gentleman whose name I did not get. The cafe is table service as well. Everything was lovely and the cafe is cosy. I was sat by the fire and there is loads of photos of family so its a personal but nice touch. Everything cost around 11 euro. The cafe is cute and set in an old cottage which was Johns grandparents old house.
Pros: Staff are nice and really helpful. The smell of the chocolate is amazing in the shop. Its so interesting as well because they have the different kinds of cocoa beans on display. I never really knew alot about chocolate or chocolate making so love the fact you can see people at work as well and the open plan of the shop and factory. Inside the cafe door I noticed a plague for employee of the month and underneath text stating why they awarded employee of the month to that person. They wrote some lovely things about that person and I just thought its lovely to see employers do this and appreciate their staff. It impressed me as I think makes a difference and fosters a positive work environment. I have been before and I have to say noticed some changes more products, more chocolate recipes in the cafe and the urban woodsman products. As this company grows they are are getting better and better I think. Of course, as a women tasty chocolate and chocolate products is always a plus. The cafe also sell gluten free products. They add the chocolate to many of the items in the cafe so if your a foodie go here as its interesting and different.
Cons: I cannot really think of one. Its different. They do what they do and they do it well. Well done.If I had to try and find one its that its so much lovely chocolate its criminal !!
History: The factory was set up in 2014. John and Kasha fell in love with each other and then with bean to bar chocolate. The factory and process is unique in that it manufactures from cocoa bean to chocolate. The factory imports fair trade beans. It takes around a month to convert the beans into finished bars. The factory is housed with a grass roof in keeping with the companies environmental ethos. Fermented beans are sorted to ensure good quality, they are then roasted to get rid of bitterness, the nib is then separated from the shell. The beans are stone ground and roasted to produce bean to bar chocolate which is made using sugar and milk from the family farm. The chocolate is then wrapped up and left to age for 3 weeks. They use Trinitario beans for their bars and truffles which is low yield flavoursome bean. After roasting chocolate is tempered and flavours added to it.
Hazel Mountain Chocolate
|Sign outside the cafe|
|The chocolate shop|
|A jar with some of the cocoa beans on display|
|Some of the chocolate bars on sale|
|Some of the different types of beans on display some are imported from Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela and Madagascar.|
|Some of the beautiful truffles on display|
|Outside the shop|