As we speak to Jaz & Jul’s about their hot chocolate range, it seems we’ve stepped right into Willy Wonka territory, with experimentation and fun at the heart of their Chocolate House business.
Describe Jaz & Jul’s in three words…
Chocolatey. Fun. Community.
Tell us about the team…
We, (Juliet and Jasmine) lead the team. We met as housemates in a big houseshare before starting the business from the house. We also have our great barista, Cindy; Hattie, who helps us with chocolate production; Lucia, our baker; and a group of fantastic seasonal staff.
How much hot chocolate do you produce each week?
It really varies according to the season. At Christmas [we produce] at least 300kg to 400kg per week!
How did you start out?
We started out as market traders – we had our very first market stall at Spitalfields Market on a quiet Thursday in October 2009. For the first couple of years we were in Camden Lock, as well as Broadway Market (which we still return to on Saturdays), and took our stall to festivals across the country.
Tell us a bit about the workshop…
We do all of our hot chocolate production in the back of the Chocolate House in Angel. One of us or Hattie, will melt down and temper big batches of chocolate in our giant bain-marie. Then we’ll mix in the natural spices and essential oils that make up the flavourings for that particular variety and pour the mixture into a 5kg mould.
The 5kg bar sets overnight and then we can grate it in our special chocolate flaking machine. Then it’s ready to be packaged and sent out to coffee shops, retailers or for us to use at an event or in the Chocolate House.
How do you know you have got a recipe just right?
Lots of sampling! The flavours go through a lot of trial versions – we test them out on friends, neighbours and staff. Then we have to test them again once made in larger quantities, in case any readjustments are needed.
What inspired your menu of hot chocolate flavours?
Each different hot chocolate has a different story behind it – some have been inspired by classic flavour pairings, or favourite sweet treats, or regular requests from customers and our families.
Our Cinnamon Rose has often been described as a Turkish Delight in a mug, and our Masala Mojo came about after our initial experiments at a hot chocolate using a pre-made garam masala mix proved so popular that we decided we should start making this with our own special spice blend.
What’s your most intriguing drink?
One of the most interesting and unusual drinks on our menu is our Raspberry Dream. We wanted to do a raspberry hot chocolate for a while. However, we like combining flavours to make them a little more unusual – a few years ago I discovered a raspberry and lavender jam whilst visiting a friend in Kent, I loved this and thought that if these two flavours worked in jam we should try them in a hot chocolate too! The balance really well together, each seems to bring out more of the other.
What ingredient could you not live without?
Chocolate, clearly! It wasn’t intentional, but various forms of coconut have also found their way into many of our products, especially in the shop – whipped coconut cream, coconut marshmallows, chocolate coconut tart, and coconut milk in our french toast batter.
How did you select the small producers you work with?
We’ve come to the producers we work with in a variety of ways. We work with some importers, people sometimes contact us and send us samples. First we have to be satisfied with their ethical and sustainability standards, then it has to taste good.
Why is single-origin so important?
Keeping the chocolates single-origin rather than a blend is a point of interest more than an ethical decision – much like with coffee beans and wine grapes, cocoa of different varieties and grown in different places has huge differences in flavour profile. A chocolate we use from a particular region of Peru is dark, fruity and a bit coffee-ish, whereas there’s a new chocolate we’ve been playing with from the Trachipe region of Colombia that tastes almost like custard!
What’s your most popular drink?
We always sell a lot of the drinks in the Origin range, which you could class as “traditional” hot chocolates. In terms of the Flavour Range, it depends on the time of year, but at the moment it’s all about Gingerbread, man! Very Christmassy…
And your favourite?
Jasmine: I can never decide between Orangeytang and Cinnamon Rose.
Juliet: I always makes a beeline for Chilli con Choccy.
What are your local loves on the London street food scene?
Juliet: I can’t resist Spinach & Agushi at Broadway Market.
Jasmine: I’m a fan of Anna Mae’s mac and cheese. And we both love Horn OK Please’s dosas!
What does the next year hold for you?
We’ll be focusing on the Chocolate House, in particular hosting more events. We’ll also be working on a few new hot chocolate varieties, so watch this space!
Jaz & Jul’s | Stock up on hot chocolate packs at Jaz & Jul’s Chocolate House, 1 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ as well as at selected coffee shops, hotels and retailers across the UK and Europe, or buy on their website | Find Jaz & Jul’s at Boradway Market every Saturday
Photography: Kirsty Owen