After almost a year of experimenting (and a few broken coffee machines later) Jazmin Adams created Cacao Brew. By roasting and grinding the cacao bean, she has formulated a chocolate-based drink which is the first of its kind in the UK, and entirely zero-waste too
Tell me about yourself.
I live in Newcastle, and went to Northumbria University to study Business and Information Systems. The course covered marketing and building websites as well as business, so it really helped me in setting up Cacao Brew. The food side of things however, has always been a passion of mine. I’ve always loved trying new things and going to markets. It’s been a hobby, which I guess is what led me into experimenting with cacao.
When and where did you first come across the concept?
I had the idea at the end of 2018. I bought a small bag of cacao beans and tried roasting them, and began experimenting with different kinds of beans and temperatures. I found that you can’t grind them in a regular coffee grinder, so I had to find a specific grinder that would allow me to do that. I spent most of last year experimenting, and breaking things, but eventually I ended up getting to the point where I had a product that I shared with family and friends, and they really loved it.
Tell me about the science behind it?
Cacao is naturally low in caffeine, so a lot of people like the drink because of that. It contains theobromine – something that gives people a longer-lasting, steady release of energy. It doesn’t give you the crash that you experience from coffee, and it also doesn’t affect your ability to sleep. It’s a great alternative for those who are looking for a lower-caffeine drink.
Did you know about the benefits of theobromine before experimenting?
When I started creating the product I did some research. I looked at journals and bought a lot of books but it’s not something I was aware of before I started.
How many products do you sell?
In a sense, it’s just one, but we do have two versions which use different beans. When I began experimenting I started with the Peruvian bean. I called this blend the Trailblazer. I then tried a different bean, to see if it made a difference. That led me to the create the single-origin Guatemalan, which has slightly different flavour notes.
How do we use the product?
Both products work well with almost all brewing methods, drip or immersion. Once you’ve finished your brew, you can then use what’s left in the bottom of your cafetiere in lots of recipes – something I’ve found people really love about the
product. Anywhere you might use coco nibs you can use your leftovers – add them to porridge or banana bread. We use the whole shell to create the product and you can use the whole product too, people really love the fact that it’s zero waste.
What does it taste like?
Both blends have very rich dark chocolate flavours. The Guatemalan is around 85 percent chocolate, it’s a bit mellower and has some fruity notes. Where as the Peruvian is darker, at around 90 percent, and has a very rich dark chocolate flavour. You’re supposed to drink it black, but it’s like coffee, you can drink it how you like. You can add sugar, and if you want, you can add milk.
Have you faced any challenges?
The fact that it’s a new product has made it quite hard. At markets a lot of people walk past us and we hear them say: ‘ah, another coffee company.’ Trying to tell people who we are and how we are different is a big challenge.
Your favourite local producers?
We love Proven Goods, they’re just round the corner from us so we're regulars there. And, we love The Travelling Bee man and his honey.
What is your favourite thing about the North East?
I don’t want to sound biased, but the food and the way the industry is going. We have so many options now, and exploring them is a hobby of ours.