In our latest Foodful Feature, we would like to present Meraki Cacao. Meraki Cacao was started by Vicky Armitage with a passion to create healthy but delicious snacks with minimal ingredients, most of which are organic. From the sourcing of ingredients to the paper wrappers, Vicky has made sure the bars are made ethically and sustainably from start to finish.
With these raw cacao bars you can travel the world. From Caribbean-style Carnival bar with banana and coconut to Turkish coffee houses with Turkish Nights and then to the Great British coast with the sea buckthorn, sea salt and raspberry infused Coast bar, there’s a flavour that’s right for you. Read on to discover more about Meraki Cacao.
How did your business begin? Can you tell us your history/origin story?
I had recently left my job and was taking a bit of time out. I like eating healthy food and was doing a clean eating challenge and wanted a healthy chocolate as a treat. I didn’t like any that were in the shops and started looking for recipes to make my own. After creating very simple chocolate, I wanted to find out more about creating raw chocolate.
Raw chocolate uses raw cacao nibs that haven’t been roasted. Raw chocolate has numerous health benefits as it keeps all the nutrients and antioxidants in, that are usually lost through roasting. I found an online course in raw chocolate and signed up to that. I started thinking about flavours that reminded me of happy times when I was on holiday or just walking and made those.
As I was using raw cacao, I wanted all the rest of the ingredients to be good for you, including the sweetener. After lots of research and tinkering about, I found all the ingredients I wanted to use and finalised the recipes that I use now. After giving them to lots of people and getting good feedback, I decided to start up a small business and try and sell them. So far they have been very well received by lots of customers for which I am very grateful.
What values are at the heart of your business?
As an ecologist, It’s important that my business is as ethical and sustainable as possible. I only choose certified organic ingredients and try to buy from businesses that support community projects. Unfortunately due to the nature of the ingredients and how they are grown, I can’t buy them locally. I do sell at local farmer’s markets and they are starting to be stocked in local shops.
All of my packaging is recyclable and I use labels which are recycled paper and printed with vegetable based inks.
My products are handmade at home by myself in small batches, as it is important that the quality of the products remain high.
I care about my customers and what they think. I strive to always give them a high quality artisan product that can be enjoyed as a healthy treat.
What does your product range include?
I currently make seven flavours all influenced from travel trips I have taken or would like to take. These include:
Aztec – Chilli, allspice, vanilla and raw honey. Inspired by how the Mayans flavoured their hot cacao drink
California – roasted almond. Inspired by a road trip around the beautiful and diverse California
Carnival – banana, hazelnut and coconut. Tastes of the Caribbean and will make you feel happy!
Coast – raspberry, rosehip, sea buckthorn and sea salt. Inspired from coastal walks in my hometown of Southport and Northumberland. All the plants grow along these coastlines and are a delicious and healthy combination.
Morrocan Mint – Spearmint. To remind you of Morroccan mint tea. Spearmint is an unusual addition to chocolate but I think it works very well in these raw cacao bars. The flavour is more delicate and mellow than peppermint.
Olé – Orange and raw caramel. Inspired by many trips to Spain, the flavours remind you of sunshine, flamenco and beautiful sunsets.
Turkish Nights – Coffee, Hazelnut and White Mulberry. Turkey is famed for its diverse range of delicious food and drink. Coffee, hazelnuts and whitemulberries and synonymous Turkey and will remind you of this wonderful country.
Where can people buy your products?
Customers can by our products from our online shop. We also attend local markets such as Hexham Farmer’s Market and Wilde Farm Outdoor Market.
We also have our products stocked in local outlets around Northumberland including Eco Morpeth, The Paddock Organic Veg Shop & Bloomhead the Florists. Further afield, our raw cacao bars are found in The Honey Tree in Heaton and also online on the Foodful shop.
How can your customers enjoy your product at its best?
At room temperature. Store in a cupboard away from direct heat or sunlight. Some customers like them as an elevenses or afternoon snack with a cuppa.
How are you involved in the local food/drink producer community?
I’m a part of Food and Drink North East (FADNE). I also support and attend local markets and stockists.
How does your location influence your business and product range?
It inspired one of my flavours – Coast.
Why do you think people should shop locally?
It’s important to build a local community around local food producers. This supports local economy, local business and allows the local community to learn about food and how it is produced. It allows for more social interactions, support and loyalty to local businesses.
What is your favourite local food or drink?
How could Foodful help promote your business?
I’m excited to be a part of a community that supports local producers, I’m hoping that through Foodful I’ll be able to reach more people and gain more customers.
Hat-Tip to the Producers
Thank you to Vicky Armitage at Meraki Cacao for taking the time to answer these questions. We hope this inspires you to try some of these delicious raw cacao bars. Let us know you favourites!
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