Willie Harcourt-Cooze is fondly remembered for his two TV series Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory and The Chocolate Revolution on Channel 4 in 2009. In this series he started his journey, from Venezuela to Devon, on a mission to create the world’s best chocolate. He was determined to create a chocolate that was all about the bean, with no other ingredients, completely natural Being a purist, the first actual product he decided to launch was 100% cacao! Yes 100% cacao with no added sugar, what you would use for cooking and hot chocolate making. Viewers followed avidly as he sourced the right antique machines to perfectly process the bean gently in order to create his masterpiece. Many chewed fingernails as he went, cap in hand, to the bank for a loan to follow his passion and to bring the 100% cacao to the market. All of us celebrated as he pitched to retailers and received the best news, they would stock his chocolate! We all followed his journeys as he sourced the very best beans from Venezuela to Colombia, the long road trips, the anecdotes, the amusing stories, the vibrant infectious personality of Willie Harcourt-Cooze. Many of us bought his bestselling book The Chocolate Bible to recreate his unique chocolate recipes, and lots of us continued to search the shelves for developments in Willie’s Cacao chocolate, extensions of the delicious range, and new products to try, all sharing the ethos of being 100% natural using the very best beans in the world, and making the cocoa bean the hero of the bar.
What Happened Next?
Many fans and customers on social media have asked what happened next to Willie Harcourt-Cooze once the cameras stopped rolling. Lots of people have demanded that Willie comes back to the TV to share his adventures in the chocolate factory. What did happen next to Willie, did he find his new life plain sailing, or has he had a turbulent time as he’s grown Willie’s Cacao to house over 30 different products with over 25 loyal, passionate staff?
The Chicken Shed Grew
Willie’s undying passion for creating the best bean to bar single estate chocolate has never once waned, chocolate is his life and work, he is the ultimate chocolate pioneer. When the cameras stopped rolling, Willie continued at a hundred miles per hour, creating, tasting, developing, managing, selling, travelling, sourcing, producing, teaching and sharing his love of the cocoa bean. There have been many obstacles and Willie has tackled one at a time, from machine breakdowns, to bean deliveries, Willie has dealt with each one himself. As his product line grew and he developed more bars using different single estate beans from around the world, he shared the news that different beans have unique flavours and proved this with a selection of dark chocolate bars and 100% Cacao cylinders with specific beans from Columbia to Peru. He knew that, to ensure the quality of the beans and to guarantee good post harvest practices ie the fermenting and drying that he needed to practice direct trade with every cocoa farmer, and so he travelled the world building loyal relationships and sourcing the very best beans for his chocolate. As the Willie’s Cacao chocolate range grew, so did the factory and one chicken shed became two!
Willie Harcourt-Cooze Today
Today Willie can be found either in the factory in Devon inventing new products, such as his chocolate stock, his award winning hot chocolate and his Mexican mole, he never stops coming up with new ideas and using the best ingredients, he creates these kitchen products on a small scale on his collection of antique machines. He can also be found around the world as he sources the very best cocoa beans and spreads the word about the benefits and delicious taste of real chocolate. He also continues to discover new flavours and connections and goes beyond to bring the very best flavours from around the globe back to his factory in Devon. You can find out about a recent trip to visit one of the best Japanese tea farmers in Uji in the Matcha blog.
Willie never compromises on the quality of his ingredients and if he can’t find pure flavours, he will make his own. For instance, when creating the passionfruit bar, Willie could not locate passionfruit without malto dextrin in it and so went the extra mile to have pure passionfruit freeze dried with no added extras in order to use 100% natural ingredients in the popular bar.
In the factory you’ll find Willie either knee deep in nuts and bolts, as he manually fixes his antique chocolate machines, at his desk on the phone to growers, suppliers, distributors, usually wearing a hair net as he rushes from the factory to the office or elbow deep in chocolate as he develops new flavours, and experiments with new beans. If he’s lost, he’s easily found, just follow the unique Willie Harcourt-Cooze sound!
Abroad Willie avidly visits all the individual farms, often going off grid for days at a time, as he carefully checks on the cocoa beans and builds relationships with the cocoa farmers. He also attends many trade shows as he brings Willie’s Cacao chocolate to new audiences.
You can also find Willie live on Facebook regularly, where you can ask him questions about chocolate in real time. Follow the Willie’s Cacao Facebook page for regular updates and to view the videos.
We’ll have another update for you in ten year’s time!