We were lucky enough to talk to Charlotte Calver, the head of Brecon Chocolates, about their origins, ethos, and challenges. Brecon Chocolates produces uniquely flavoured bars and boxed chocolates - often using Welsh produce, such as Pembrokeshire Chilli and spirits from the renowned Penderyn Distillery. Charlotte gives us an insightful look at running a successful chocolate business in the beautiful Brecon Beacons…
Can you give us a brief introduction to Brecon Chocolates?
In 2001 I started ‘Hay Chocolates’, whilst running my award-winning catering business, Charlotte Roskill Catering Ltd. Although ‘Hay Chocolates’ was successful, my catering company became the busier of the two businesses so, I made the hard decision to close ‘Hay Chocolates’ saying I will be back! And here I am, having got out of catering after thirty years, and retrained to be a chocolatier. We’re not in Hay-on-Wye this time, you'll find our shop, The Old Workshop, in Lion Street, Brecon. Formerly Matthews the Jewellers.
What makes Brecon Chocolates so unique?
We have our own bespoke range of book chocolates, the best seller has always been the Bookworms. We hand make all the chocolates on the counter, chocolate bars, hot chocolate flakes "Cocoa Cwtch" and stirrers.
What is your company's ethos?
The multiplier effect. To help enhance Brecon town, which is a year-round tourist town, with walkers and holidaymakers wanting locally made gifts for family, friends and pet sitters as well as being supported by regular, loyal local customers and accommodation providers.
What are the challenges of producing chocolate in Wales?
The Brecon Beacons National Park has very high rainfall. Chocolate is a temperamental product to work with and is very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Recently, we moved Production into a purpose-built facility which is an air-conditioned and humidity controlled, making a stable environment for making chocolates.
Why should we shift our attention to locally produced Chocolate?
To keep the High Streets alive and small independent businesses trading, it is imperative that they are supported.
What are your hopes for the future of Welsh chocolates and local producers?
We are blessed with a plethora of very well-established producers in Wales and long may it last!