Behind the scenes at Love Cocoa and H!P pop-up confectionery event

The potential for oat milk based confectionery is continuing to take a notable leap forward, as Kathryn Brand discovers speaking to James Cadbury, whose two fast-rising chocolate businesses are making an impact on the British market.

In celebration of oat milk based H!P Chocolate’s first birthday, and Love Cocoa’s millionth tree planted as part of its Plant A Tree campaign, the two brands hosted a pop-up shop on London’s Oxford Street with a vegan chocolate media event.

Confectionery Production attended the recent well-attended and lively evening with a youthful guest list of largely social media influencers, from TikTokers to Bookstagrammers.

We were treated to a masterclass on taste: of how it consists of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami, which is rather primitive in comparison to the complexity of our sense of smell, which plays a significant role when we taste, demonstrated on request by holding our noses while trying Love Cocoa’s Peruvian 71% Dark Chocolate.

From there, we were then instructed to allow the chocolate to melt on the tongue rather than chewing, in order to allow for the fullest flavour, a technique that was easier with some chocolate than others.

A chocolate tasting ‘map’ was provided which set out the different flavour profiles and what general category they came under (see image), accompanied by miniature cards of each chocolate on the tasting menu which we were to place on the map where we saw fit.

The chocolates in the tasting were a mixture of Love Cocoa and H!P Chocolate bars, and each had an accompanying cocktail, specially designed to enhance the flavours of the chocolate with which it was paired, for example, the Love Cocoa Avocado Dark Chocolate paired with a Spicy Watermelon Margarita, containing chili infused watermelon, mezcal, tequila, and lime. It was fascinating to experience how much the flavour of the chocolate changed after a sip of the cocktail, and how this in turn informed its positioning on the chart.

James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson John Cadbury, a founding member of the Cadbury chocolate dynasty, was in attendance. He helped run the event for his two brands, which began in 2016 with Love Cocoa, and followed up two years ago with its vegan-focused H!P venture.

Confectionery Production had an opportunity to catch up with the confectionery entrepreneur on the progress of his two companies.

H!P Chocolate is “the new kid on the block,” said James, “but we are seeing it grow month on month, so in a couple of years it will be on parallel with Love Cocoa.”

He added, “Love Cocoa’s focus is gifting and it’s been really impressive; the website is getting redone and we have loads of new products that will be arriving soon.”

As plant-based products have taken off in recent years, James noted that the founding of H!P was a combination of both identifying a gap in the market, as well as furthering his sustainability ambitions. James revealed the inspiration for H!P came when it was noticed that so many of the Love Cocoa staff were drinking oat milk, which raised the question: “Why don’t we make our own oat milk based chocolate?” revealed James.

“We saw a gap in the market, something no one else was really doing. There’s lots of rice milk but no one doing oat milk chocolate.” The sustainability aspect grew as, through bringing H!P to life, it became evident to the company just how much more sustainable oat milk is from dairy, said James.

In relation to the clean-labelling issue that is sweeping many plant-based companies, James shared that “We have less ingredients than a regular chocolate bar. It’s literally cacao, sugar, oat milk, literally three ingredients.” This affords the brand a simplicity, quality and sustainability which is in line with its ethos.

While the Cadbury family is now independent of the brand, he says that he wanted to bring back to life the innovation and ethical ethos that his ancestor had when founding the famous British confectionery business.

He feels strongly that his ancestor would have been supportive of the plant-based movement. “He was a pioneer of milk chocolate so he would have absolutely loved it. He was all about sustainability and ethics. I genuinely think he would be waking up in his grave and celebrating,” enthused James.

As John Cadbury was a huge innovator in the world of chocolate, the innovation that is behind both Love Cocoa and H!P is something that James said would make him “a massive supporter of it, which makes me really proud.”

In the coming years the focus will be on continuing to make the already plastic-free brands as sustainable as possible. “We are already carbon neutral but we are hoping to be get certified,” he added, confident that both brands will continue to grow and see further success.

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