Podcast

Episode 25: Cocoa Innovation with Sophie Jewett of York Cocoa House & York Cocoa Works

Description: Sophie Jewett is founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works, both namesake chocolate shops, cafes, and the latter a 7 month old bean-to-bar chocolate factory (as of late October 2018), an homage to how they used to make this beloved confection in York's storied mercantile past. She's led project ideation and management since 2011. After studying the landscape and proposing such an endeavor to investors and local food aficionados, she's managed building renovation, equipment, directly traded suppliers & team curation within the past year. Her researched and pitched plan won a mentorship with British TV personality Deborah Meaden, and near 500 investors put in £411,480 in total to take the concept from blueprint to reality. Her aptitude for economics, sociology, and adoration for York's prestige as an incredibly important hub for cocoa in the world, have molded her view on what the future of chocolate in York will look like, and is actively setting the tone.  

When not making chocolate, acquiring food history knowledge, or managing the day-in and day-out of managerial roles at YCW/H, Sophie is (in her words), not doing a great deal of anything else, “(I’m) incredibly fortunate to have made my interests into my business, so while I might be sewing, designing, crafting, cooking or reading, everything is intensely chocolate focused.”

 Sophie Jewett, founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: Sophie Jewett

Sophie Jewett, founder of York Cocoa House and York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: Sophie Jewett

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • Pub culture as chocolate/coffee shop culture, and vice versa

  • York as a medieval capital of the north and hub for the spice trade & other mercantile

  • Merchants/ guilds/ apprenticeships, and the modern take on these concepts   

  • Confectioners and impact of Quakers values in business: such as Rowntree

  • Experiential over standard consumption

  • What happens to a brand/company when accountants take over the vision and responsibility

  • Finding a balance of offerings when there is no consensus of “the best”

  • The Big Mac Index from The Economist 

  • Customers feeling a part of the industry; empowering their choices and taking an active role in its future

“…because I really believe if we are to structure the industry in the right way, it needs to have wider stakeholder/shareholder engagement, and it needs to not just be about one person's mission”. - Sophie Jewett 

 Chocolatiers create confections (such as seen here) at York Cocoa House using house-made couverture from York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: York Cocoa House

Chocolatiers create confections (such as seen here) at York Cocoa House using house-made couverture from York Cocoa Works. Photo credit: York Cocoa House