After a career at IBM, international jet-setter Chris Brennan briefly retired before deciding to pioneer the making of sourdough and other breads in his idyllic countryside bakery in Orford, Suffolk. His insatiable drive to invent unquenched, though, Chris decided to begin crafting award-winning chocolate, along with his daughter Joanna, in their bakery. Not only do their bars and beans win awards, but their innovative packaging has had accolades from designers.
Chris and Joanna recognise that the quality of the bar depends on the provenance of the beans that makes it. This is why they spend up to two years sourcing the cocoa beans for their bars from family farms and cooperatives around the world.
At the moment, the Pump Street team source their cocoa from Patanemo Village, Venezuela, Hacienda Guantupi, Ecuador and Ambanja, Madagascar and mainly through small companies that work directly with farming families to ensure that harvesting, fermenting and drying practices are met. The beans are then roasted, winnowed, ground and conched in their bakery.
The production process for chocolate bars at Pump Street Bakery has an almost forensic attention to detail. Chris and Joanna micromanage the process in order to bring out the specific flavours of each particular bean without letting its origin characteristics overpower the overall taste.
They also bridge the gap between their two products – chocolate and bread – well. Their 66% Patenemo dark chocolate contains sea salt and their own sourdough bread crumbs, which gives the bar a distinct crunch and intriguing flavour.