Duffy's chocolate (Also known as Red Star chocolate) is a small bean-to-bar, artisanal chocolate producer based in Cleethorpes on the Lincolnshire coast and is the brainchild of motorsport engineer turned chocolate maker Duffy Sheardown.
How Duffy chocolates began
As a lifelong chocolate enthusiast, Duffy was intrigued to hear on BBC radio in 2007 that only Cadbury’s roasted their own beans in the UK. His curiosity as to why this was the case soon became a quest to set up his own chocolate making operation from roasting beans to wrapping bars, culminating in the launch of a range of chocolate bars bearing his name. Duffy explains “At first sight the worlds of motorsport and chocolate couldn’t be more different, I’ve moved from science and certainty to art and alchemy. On closer acquaintance, both involve huge passion, long hours, hard work and a certain technical rigour. I log and taste everything obsessively and my goal is, quite simply, to make the best chocolate in the world.” This means the same superior quality of the likes of Valrhona, Michel Cluizel and Amedei, to name just a few from our collection.
The cocoa beans
Duffy sources the finest beans that he can find, and as much as possible, working directly with the cocoa farmers. Duffy pays a premium for the finest beans so that the cocoa farmers realise that we appreciate the work they put into growing top quality beans and fermenting and drying them after the harvest.
All of Duffys chocolate bars are single origin and made with cocoa beans from one harvest and from one region of one country. The taste of each chocolate bar will vary year-on-year: as the growing conditions change so the flavours slightly change.
Making chocolate from bean to bar (cacaofevier)
Duffy is keen to for people to understand the lengths he goes to, to make this quality of chocolate. Duffy's chocolate is one of only two UK chocolate makers, making chocolate direct from the cocoa bean in the UK at this time. Most chocolatiers (technically not making the chocolate but working with chocolate) buy in ready made 'couverture' in chip or block form to melt down and reform. This means for making Duffy's chocolate he is buying in raw cocoa from overseas and methodically working through the many processes it requires to make chocolate, such as roasting, grinding and conching for hours on end. Many claim to, but only one other, Willie's Cacao, creates chocolate directly from the raw bean. Roasting the cocoa yourself can have such a dramatic effect on the finished chocolate taste and Duffy likes to be in control of this finely judged part of the process. Just one or two degrees difference and the flavour of the resulting chocolate can be huge. Duffy intends to make his own couverture in the future to supply to the trade.
The process of Duffy’s chocolate
Once the beans arrive at Duffy's chocolate they are cleaned and sorted before carefully roasted, de-shelled and stone ground in a slowly-rotating granite grinder for over 50 hours so that the naturally present complex flavours are allowed to fully develop. The other ingredients – usually just Fairtrade/organic sugar for dark chocolate plus milk powder for milk chocolate – are checked and added.
After the extensive preparation the chocolate is ready to be poured into bar moulds, each one representing over 3 days of careful and precise work, but the minimum of intervention.
Duffy giving back
Duffy is keen to give something back to the cocoa growers, many of which rarely taste the finished, fine chocolate we produce from their cocoa beans. Due to the low pay for cocoa farmers the average age is 63 and Duffy wants to be play a part in aiding a sustainable cocoa industry. Duffy pays over the odds for his cocoa beans, which is partly down the the small amount he buys as an artisan, compared with the big players, but mainly because he is doing this partly as a hobby with an interest in the whole process. Duffy is a founding member of Direct Cocoa which is group of buyers agreeing to pay a price to the cocoa famers one and a half times higher than the New York spot price.
Another side of the chocolate business that interests Duffy a lot, aside from actually making award winning chocolate, is to pass his experience and knowledge on to others. For example, there is a scheme by Tropical Farms in Sierra Leone which has been set up to enpower the cocoa farmers to make their own chocolate from the vast amounts of cocoa they actually grow. Apparantly it is rare for a farmer to be involved in the chocolate making process and this is surely an opportunity missed, aprticulary for the tourist industry. You only have to look at The Grenada Chocolate Company, a solar powered factory run as a cooperative, to see how successful this can be.
Duffys chocolate bar range
A full flavoured and creamy milk chocolate with delicate notes of blackcurrants and hazelnuts. A silghtly spicey finish. Created by Duffy from fine flavour Criollo cocoa beans from Peru.
A robust and bitter dark chocolate due to a high 85% cocoa content with little acidity and great depth of flavour. This single origin chocolate bar holds notes of citrus raisins and coffee.
A very balanced dark chocolate with little acidity and great depth of flavour. This single origin chocolate bar holds notes of citrus and banana. Created by Duffy's from Nacional cocoa beans from Ecuador. Suitable for wide tastes.
An award winning bar from Duffy's chocolate with a wide ranging flavour profile and great length of flavour. An acidulous top edge is balanced with more caramalised flavours of currants and coffee with a robust depth of strong cocoa and a hint of smokiness.Created from fine flavour, Criollo cocoa beans from Honduras.
A higher than average cocoa content of 43% gives this milk chocolate bar added flavour and depth. A very buttery taste with a caramel richness. Notes of banana and orange blossom. Created from fine flavour, Nacional cocoa beans from Ecuador.
This very interesting chocolate bar from Duffy's has a strong treacle flavour with equal prominent notes of liquorice and raisins. A caramalised sweetness, packed with flavour with a bitter edge.
A suprisingly sweet dark chocolate for its 70%cocoa content, bursting with berry fruits and without any astringent bitterness. Notes of nuts and spice also. Created by Duffy's from fine flavour, criollo cocoa beans from Peru.
Duffy's chocolate today
Duffy continues to combine motorsport consultancy and lecturing at Coventry University with chocolate making, and his engineering skills and ingenuity have proved invaluable in adapting and refurbishing second-hand chocolate manufacturing equipment. He is committed to building Red Star Chocolate slowly, keeping it small enough to ensure both quality and the company’s strong ethical basis.
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