Mayhawk is a small company with a distinctive British identity and a strong reputation for innovation and craftsmanship. We’ve created an environment where we can make a stunning chocolate from developing our own ideas and then use it to design hand-crafted products which enable us to tell our story.
Our drive comes from our belief that people who are really serious about working with chocolate should make their own chocolate. We forgo cocoa-liquor and coverture made by other companies, instead we work with raw-materials, making and using our own chocolate.
At Mayhawk we only use cocoa-beans (the highest grade – fine flavour cacao) and natural, high-quality ingredients, with less unrefined-sugar, so that the flavour of the chocolate becomes the focus of what we make.
By circumventing traditional sourcing channels, making and designing all our chocolate products bean-to-bar in-house, and engaging with customers directly, we’re able to provide a higher-quality, better-tasting, ethically-sourced chocolate.
THE RAW MATERIALS
Cocoa beans are a seed, grown in pods on a relatively fragile tree, (Theobroma cacao) needing both shade and sunshine, frequent rain, and protection from winds, pests and diseases – the highest grade, fine-flavour cacao, comes from the most fragile species of the tree, which is why it is grown in such low numbers on isolated plantations.
The fine-flavour cacao-beans that we use come from less than 10% of the world’s cacao yield. In sourcing our fine flavour cacao-beans we also look for a supportive community network within the co-operatives and plantations that grow the beans, with owners using sustainable agroforestry techniques.
Colombia: (Forastero). These cocoa beans are bold and without bitterness. The localised Arriba strains of the Forastero bean, from the Colombian regions of Arauca and Santandar, have a striking deep-chocolate body with a lighter ripe-peach and wider floral tone.
Venezuela: (Criollo & Trinitario). These cocoa beans are naturally intense and assertive. Coming from the Andean region of Venezuela these are of a mixed species of cacao, of a superior quality, yielding a myriad of subtle caramel, honey and vanilla notes.
Trinidad / Grenada: (Trinitario). These cocoa beans are medium-bodied and lightly spiced. Coming from the birth-place of Trinitario these beans impart a gentle mulled red-wine spectrum, with woody spices and a small amount of black treacle.
Madagascar: (Criollo). These cocoa beans have a sophisticated and vibrant red-fruit note with a more intense-plum depth. A favourite of many, coming from the Sambirano Valley in Madagascar, these pure Criollo beans have a remarkable, almost vodka like quality, with their multi-faceted brightness.
Ltd Editions: (Various). We also source smaller amounts of beans from other regions and plantations, where we look for something special, that we can turn into limited editions.
Making & Growing. We make many of our ingredients in-house, like our Maple Sugar, Spice-blends, Sea-salt Caramel and Bramble Vodka, (among many others) but we also grow some of our own ingredients too, like the fresh Rosemary, Chilli Peppers and Sloe Berries etc. that go into our chocolate. Other ingredients come from very local suppliers, like the Honey we purchase, or very highly-acclaimed British producers like the Welsh Sea-salt we use.
HOW WE MAKE OUR CHOCOLATE
The Processes. What characterizes our work is the subtle, continual, and deliberate changes to our processes that develop and enhance the balance of our chocolate.
To create something special we believe you need to feel real excitement, focus and emotion, and not constrain yourself within someone else’s vision. The chocolate which defines us is made with care, and an attention to fine details. We focus on the clarity of flavour in our chocolate and its health benefits, using only natural ingredients.
Hand-sorting. We begin the process of making our chocolate by hand-sorting every cocoa-bean – the beans are poured out onto stainless steel trays, from the large hessian sacks which arrive at our facility. Hand-sorting allows us to review the quality of each bean, removing imperfections, enabling us to control the optimal quality and consistency of our chocolate even at this earliest stage.
Roasting-profiles. Setting the roasting profile is undertaken by an experienced and skilled roaster. The cocoa-beans are lightly roasted, in small batches, in a precise temperature-controlled gas fired oven. Every new season, as the cocoa beans come in, each of the types of bean, and each regional origin, is assigned its own unique roasting profile – this determines which roasting contour (time/temperature) to use and the thermal momentum we want to achieve. The roasting time/temp chosen heavily influences the final flavour profile of the chocolate.
Crack & Winnow. After roasting the beans are ‘cracked’, to help release the husk from the bean. Winnowing then gently removes the lighter husk from the heavier ‘cocoa-nib’. The waste husk (along with our other organic waste) is recycled onto the farm fields as a natural fertiliser.
Stone-grinding. Without adding anything the separated cocoa-nibs are then slowly ground down into a cocoa liquid, (100% cocoa-mass) refined under a granite stone wheel for twenty-four hours. This 100% single-origin cocoa-mass is then cooled into solid blocks, and left to rest on our shelves for a few weeks.
Ingredients. Each 100% block is melted and re-introduced to the stone grinders while we slowly incorporate the other ingredients to make one of our signature chocolates. There is a clarity to our chocolate because we use only natural ingredients, without emulsifiers or lecithin’s. And we never follow trends: we are trying to innovate, to make something better. The chocolate we do make has undergone a detailed research & development cycle of several months to perfect or redefine.
Refining. During two more days of grinding the chocolate, with the added ingredients, is stone-ground to an incredibly smooth consistency. It is then refined over one more day to create the natural multi-tonal refined-flavour profiles that we are after. The finished chocolate is then cooled and left to rest once again on our shelves for a set amount of time.
Hand-tempering. The finished chocolate (for the last time) is melted, then hand-worked with skill, on large granite stone tables, to the correct tempered state. Then it is hand-poured into chocolate moulds, cooled, and allowed to set under temper. Our strong reputation for craftsmanship is underlined through this process as we use no machinery. All of our chocolate is precisely hand-tempered, giving it a far more skilled temper than any machine.
Packaging & Design. We then hand-wrap the chocolates into foil and our signature 100% recyclable packaging. We do all of the design and print work in-house – this is to retain creative control over each unique design, and to establish a balance and harmony in all parts of the finished product.
Skilled Chocolate-work. We can seamlessly switch from making our own chocolate, into using it to make more skilled chocolate work: which is all connected to how we hand-temper and finish our chocolate. Making the ‘filled’ chocolates in our Heritage collection, for example, demands a different flexibility and skill-set to the chocolate bars that we make.