Wanted: Help to build new chocolate factory for sweet reward

Alastair and Friederike Gower with their daughter Roslyn, eight, demonstrate how they make their own chocolate from bean to bar. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Alastair and Friederike Gower with their daughter Roslyn, eight, demonstrate how they make their own chocolate from bean to bar. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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No childhood dream is more tantalisingly tempting than that conjured up by Willy Wonka and his mystery Chocolate Factory.

And although sailing down a chocolate river in a gondola steered by a horde of tuneful Oompa Loompas may be a fictional step too far, Edinburgh chocolatiers are giving the public a golden ticket 

Bruntsfield-based Chocolate Tree, co-founded by Alastair and Friederike Gower, has launched a £30,000 crowdfunding campaign to transform an idyllic rural East Lothian farmhouse into a chocolate oasis.

The chocolate connoisseurs have outgrown the existing shop and, with the support of the crowdfunding campaign, hope to inject the magic of cocoa into their new surroundings.

“Thanks to Roald Dahl a ‘chocolate factory’ has magical connotations and it helps demonstrate this won’t be a soulless industrial building, it is a well-loved farmhouse in a rural location with beautiful views,” Mr Gower explained.

“We want people to feel there’s something magical about what we do. We want to make people happy and have a positive impact on the environment.”

The business, which is unique in Scotland in that it makes its own chocolate from bean to bar, has blossomed in the past year, with a wholesale increase of 50 per cent and chocolate production of 195,000 bars.

“The way people interpret luxury chocolate is changing, and it needs to change. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in the way luxury chocolate is made and sold and it is not that obvious to the customer what goes on behind the scenes – our whole mission is to make that more transparent and easier to grasp.”

In exchange for a donation, the chocolatiers are offering exclusive money-can’t-buy 
rewards such as a golden ticket option, which includes a factory tour and mini chocolate making workshop.

Alastair hopes to launch the former Knowes Farm Shop just outside East Linton, into an awe inspiring chocolate factory with cafe by July.

The funding will contribute to investment in the building’s interior and new equipment with the cost of the project estimated to be closer to £80,000 than £30,000.

Alastair said: “We would like to smash the total, even double it. We’re not asking for money for nothing, we’ve got great stuff to offer in exchange for contributions to make this move, whether that’s three bars a month for a year, a year-long chocolate subscription or a chocolate masterclass.”

The move will allow Chocolate Tree to continue making award winning, ethical chocolate during the week and let the public in on the magic for workshops and tours at the weekend. Alastair continued: “This is a long-term investment into the future of Chocolate Tree that will also enable a much-loved East Lothian building to continue being used as an artisan food business. By contributing to our campaign you are investing in more than just better chocolate.

“As well as directly contributing to the local community by offering a unique workplace for 18 staff members, the cacao we buy has a hugely positive social and environmental impact. We pay farmers a premium price, which means they continue to grow cacao, which has a big positive impact on biodiversity.”

So instead of searching for a ticket hidden beneath the wrapper of a whipple-scrumptious fudgemallow delight, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/chocolate-tree-s-new-chocolate-factory-food