Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pump St. Bakery: A Deliciously British Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Experience

Pump St. Bakery is "a small, family-owned bakery & café in the village of Orford," which, from the looks of it, is a picturesque village in Suffolk, on England's Eastern coast. The town has a mediaeval castle on the River Ore, and a history as a port and fishing town in the Middle Ages. And it also has a 'famous' bakery, as described by the Suffolk Cottage Holiday site in reference to Pump St. Bakery. Known for "real bread made by hand, using traditional methods and all natural ingredients," this bakery serves both carb-happy locals and seasonal summer tourists.

But bread is not the only thing Pump St. Bakery is famous for. It makes chocolate from bean-to-bar on site, with single estate chocolate bars (like their Grenada Crayfish Bay bar) that are both fairly and directly traded. Many of their chocolate has won awards - over 20 in fact, from three different recognized organizations.

Thanks to social media, I have been following Pump St. Bakery's success in the chocolate world for a while. But I finally had a first real taste of their chocolate a few weeks ago (one heat-exposed bar given to me in 2015 didn't count). In early April, a birthday gift arrived filled with British and European chocolate, bought from the Cocoa runners website, and it contained three wonderful chocolate bars by Pump St. Bakery.  All in prime condition, and ready for tasting.

I have very slowly consumed these bars during the course of the month, giving each piece time to savour, and ponder the flavours, texture and overall aura of the chocolate. And from all this, I can say that the quality is, well, perfect.

Don't get me wrong, there are so many philosophies to making chocolate.  I can love chocolate made with very high percentages of cocoa butter (Bonnat's or Friis-Holm's dark-milk chocolates, for instance, or Duffy's 72% Camino Verde Ecuador chocolate bar), and to me that may be perfect quality, but I can also find perfection in stiffer-textured chocolate made with only two ingredients: cacao and cane sugar (Palette des Bines, the new DesBarres Chocolate or Fresco).  But Pump St. Bakery's chocolate sits somewhere in the middle of the two, with a noticeable inclusion of cocoa butter to add creaminess to the texture, but not so much that it stands out or takes control of the overall chocolate experience.

According to an article in the Jamie Oliver magazine, Pump St. Bakery spends four days grinding and conching their chocolate.  Which is likely why their chocolate tastes (and feels) like perfection. The flavours are slowly developed, and the acidity is reduced, making this chocolate full of pure origin flavour.

I am looking forward to someday tasting all of Pump St. Bakery's chocolate, particularly their popular chocolate bars with bread and sourdough crumbs tossed in, featuring the breads they are famous for. But for now, I'll let the memory of the three chocolate bars that I tasted linger.  If you are curious, feel free to read my tasting notes below.

Pump St. Bakery Chocolate Tasting Notes:

Venezuela 75% - the aroma is full of sweetness and light vanilla, but the flavour is of cream and spice, with a little roast flavour that reminds me a little of a Maranon Peru, although I hadn't had one on hand to compare. I truly enjoyed this chocolate bar.

Ecuador 85% - I call this the extreme walnut bar, because the flavour is SO very nutty, with strong walnut overtones. If you have ever added walnut oil to chocolate, you'll know what I mean when I say the chocolate almost tastes like walnut oil has been added to it, that is how nutty the flavour is. With all that nuttiness, I enjoyed it quite a lot.  Well, I must have because I finished it off!

Ecuador 60% Dark Milk by Pump St. Bakery - this is on the 'dark' side, with a lovely light cream texture and taste. To me, it falls in the category of Dark Dark-Milk Chocolate - it is very dark brown in colour and has some bitterness, and although there is a milky taste, it seems more like a dark chocolate with milk in it, rather than a milk chocolate with higher cocoa content.

Last year, I dove head first into a study of 'dark milk' chocolate, which included a week long tasting of 13 different dark milk chocolates at once, and have since been purchasing and tasting others. And so I have started to create mental classifications of them. I find there are three types:

These classifications make it easier for me to compare and contrast. For instance, my experience with the very dark dark-milk chocolate bars was not as good as the milky and cocoa buttery ones until I met this Ecuador chocolate by Pump St. Bakery. It is dark, but creamy and not too 'stiff' in texture.  The balance seems to be ideal for a dark-milk chocolate designed for a person who prefers dark chocolate. Overall it is very pleasant to eat. I have enjoyed it each and every time I taste it.

***

To learn more about Pump St. Bakery, visit: www.pumpstbakery.com.

10 comments:

  1. I'm a huge Pump Street fan; they're definitely doing something magical with their beans. For my first order of Pump Street (a year ago), I purchased directly from the bakery. More recently (since they no longer ship directly to consumers in the US), I've been getting my Pump Street fix through Caputo's deli online in Utah of all places; they surprisingly have a nice selection of Pump Street. (wwwdotcaputosdelidotcom). Barb G.

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  2. Hi I am happy that you finally got to experience Pump Street Bakery's amazing chocolate and am glad that you enjoyed it.

    We are Kim & Lylette the owners of Crayfish Bay Organic Estate where the beans for Pump Street's Granada 70% bar comes from.

    Thank you for taking the time to write about this wonderful company and how it is making a difference in the world of chocolate by taking the time to make quality/tasty chocolate and doing it ethically by caring about the farmers, the true unsung heroes of the chocolate industry

    Kim & Lylette

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