Exploding Tree – purveyor of ‘thought full’ food – launches cocoa husk tea
Having spent 10 years building her ethical food company Clonakilty Chocolate, which specialises in handmade Fairtrade chocolate, Allison Roberts is branching out with her newest venture – Exploding Tree….
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Proud to receive our ‘Radical Stripes’ from the McKennas Guides again this year – ‘2017 Best in Ireland!’ click the logo to read their review! Here is a snippet
“….All that from a bar of chocolate? Yes. All that, and a narcotic deliciousness that is not to be found in any other food. Clonakilty Chocolate: they do radical.”
The Sweet Taste of Success
West Cork chocolatier Allison Roberts talks to Róisín Thornhill about her life–long love of chocolate and her dedication to ensuring that her suppliers are paid a fair price for a great product.
Many entrepreneurs when setting their own company are quick to say it is the culmination of a lifelong dream but for Allison Roberts, this truly is a reality. The Clonakilty based Canadian has been working with chocolate since she was nine and set up her first business selling her products when she was twelve.
“At Christmas and Easter I used to send around a little book to my parents’ work and people would order things from that, and at school I set up a little canteen” laughs Roberts. “I’ve always been interested in crafts like crochet or working with stained glass and chocolate kind of fits into that, and I really enjoy cooking so I love being able to bring those two things together.”
Roberts now operates her business out of her home in West Cork after converting the back of her house into a chocolate factory, “I really couldn’t imagine doing this anywhere else but Clonakilty, it’s such a great town” says Roberts, “the people here are so encouraging and are really interested in how things are going for you, and they tell you they like what you’re doing….”
Chocolate tasting in Clonakilty
Joe McNamee visits Clonakilty Chocolate for a seven-course chocolate-themed dinner.
Gamely eating his way through a cellar full of chocolate, Valentine’s gifts from his many doting admirers, has recalled for The Menu one of his more intriguing culinary encounters of recent times, his meeting with Alison Roberts of Clonakilty Chocolate….
Deliciously ethical chocolate
Allison Roberts’s Clonakilty Chocolate is as much about honouring the work of cocoa farmers as producing delicious artisan truffles, nut bars and chocolates slabs. She runs chocolatiering workshops for fathers and daughters, hen parties etc in her Clonakilty town garden studio. The business is as much about fostering sustainable communities in west Cork as making ethical chocolate. Try her Wild West chocolate, made with a pinch of Irish salt and Achill seaweed, or Milky Milk, with goat’s milk and coconut sugar. clonakiltychocolate.com Manchán Magan
Denise Hall: The sweet taste of ethical chocolate in Clonakilty
…I import my beans directly from Ghana, so it’s a direct link, and thanks to a partnership last year with Indiegogo, which works on a system of pre-orders, I was able to raise enough money to buy the equipment I need to grind the beans. In fact, it’s being installed today and I can’t wait….
Beans mean business for Fairtrader
CLONAKILTY Chocolate is probably the only company in Ireland producing bean-to-bar eggs and bunnies this Easter. It is also almost certainly the only one making bean-to-bar Fairtrade chocolate with goat’s milk.
The company was founded by Canadian woman Allison Roberts, who saw in the beginnings of economic recovery in Ireland an opportunity to bring bean-to-bar, the latest trend in chocolate-making, to Clonakilty. The process involves grinding the cocoa beans to produce the chocolate, rather than importing it.
At the end of last year, she converted half of her house into a food grade production unit and just this month has launched a new range of bean-to-bar chocolate bars which she sells online and to 18 shops.…
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“We had lots of other samples as we made our way around but our final stop was at Clonakilty Chocolate where Allison was not alone displaying her range of [Fairtrade] bars but also the newest addition to the family, the baby sleeping soundly despite the crowds. No need to sample here, we know how good her chocolate is. We did buy a few bars, including the favourite Mo Milk Chocolate. This includes goats milk and Coconut Blossom Syrup, a creamy compromise between the bean and milk. Enjoying it now as I write this. Tough going!”
Fair Play to Fairtrade
Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual event that raises awareness about Fairtrade, comes to a successful close this Sunday, March 9. Clonakilty, Ireland’s first Fairtrade town, organised a number of informative events over the two weeks, one of which involved Allison Roberts and Cindy Kingston recounting their experiences visiting Fairtrade farms and co-ops on a trip to Ghana last November.
Allison and Cindy got the opportunity to represent Clonakilty Fairtrade on the two-week trip to Ghana after Clonakilty was declared ‘Best Fairtrade Town in Ireland 2013’. They speak to Mary O’Brien about their experience and the importance of supporting Fairtrade.
Fairtrade guarantees the growers fair prices for their produce, which results in the farmers being able to invest in their holdings and communities and that children attend education rather than having to work on the plantations. The Fairtrade system has also helped and encouraged producers to come together to form co-ops and these are working very well in Ghana.
Clonakilty based chocolatier Allison Roberts has always been passionate about Fairtrade, so when the occasion arose to see firsthand where the cocoa beans for her chocolate come from, she jumped at the chance. Cindy has been involved in the Clonakilty Fairtrade Committee since 2006 and says the trip was a truly humbling experience.
In Ghana, Allison and Cindy visited producers of Fairtrade palm oil, cocoa and bananas, as well as learning about the history of the slave trade in Ghana and visiting local recycling projects.
They met with cocoa bean farmers, many of whom were women, in the small rural village of Amankwatia. The local children attend a school, which was built with the aid of the Fairtrade premium.
In New Koforidua, Africa’a first Fairtrade town, Allison and Cindy met with 40 to 50 farmers who supply Fairtrade cocoa to the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa co-operative. Kuapa Kokoo’s cocoa is used in many of the big brand Fairtrade chocolate bars. “The farmers were very concerned about the future of Fairtrade produce and asked us to bring the message back to Ireland for people to continue supporting Fairtrade,” says Allison. “Fairtrade means they can improve their lives in Ghana, continue farming and continue to send their children to school.”
In Asuom, Cindy and Allison visited Serendipalm, a Fairtrade palm oil plantation and production unit. Here, they were guided through a local village where a new water pump has been installed and a new toilet block built with Fairtrade premium. “Sanitation in many of these small villages is very poor,” explains Cindy “and being part of the Fairtrade system is having huge positive impacts on their lives.”
“Entire towns are developed as part of the Fairtrade system, not just cocoa plantations,” explains Allison. “You can really feel the sense of community and pride in their traditions. In one of the weaving projects we visited, the man running it spoke extremely passionate about promoting sustainable tourism in his country.”
Throughout all the areas that the women visited in Ghana, they were met with huge smiles and even bigger welcomes. “The palm oil plantation was visually stunning,” says Allison. “All the work is done outdoors, mainly by women and everyone seemed very happy and relaxed. We were given a very warm welcome.”
“I would encourage everyone to think twice about everything that we consume in our consumer hungry society and maybe consider a simple change, such as buying fairtrade tea/coffee/chocolate, confident in the knowledge that just by having a cuppa, we can impact on the daily lives of others, positively,” says Cindy.
On Saturday, March 8, ‘Clonakilty Chocolate’, which recently received the Fairtrade Mark, will officially launch at The Lettercollum Kitchen Project Shop in Clonakilty.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Clonakilty Fairtrade committee can contact the chairperson Trevor Kingston on 086-2202029.
Allison Roberts moved to Ireland during the recession and, having experience in chocolate making, started a business because no other chocolate was being made in Clonakilty at the time. Services: Hand-crafted Fair Trade chocolate, stocks stores (such as Bradley’s Off-Licence in the city), custom gifts for weddings, hosts courses/parties, new range of sugar-free chocolate now available.
The World’s Smallest Chocolate Festival
A Christmas Message
Merry Christmas everyone! We’ve been going strong in Clonakilty for 7 years now and here’s a little update from our new hilltop chocolate factory!