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23 Jul 2020

Meet the Makers: Calum Haggerty from COCO Chocolatier

A man wearing a blue jumper stands side on to the camera. Behind him are piles of sacks on shelves.
Calum Haggerty, Director at COCO Chocolatier
The Trust is proud to support talented makers and craftspeople from across Scotland, by selling their products in our physical and online shops. This time, we meet Calum Haggerty of COCO Chocolatier.

I’m Calum Haggerty, director of the Edinburgh-based COCO Chocolatier.

On 12 July 2013, I took over COCO Chocolatier. Owning a business had always been an aspiration of mine and I saw this as an exciting opportunity. I thought COCO had lots of potential and I wanted to create a product that involved my interest in the arts, that was accessible and that could be easily understood.

We source single origin chocolate from Colombia and make it into chocolate products in our Edinburgh kitchen. We also collaborate with independent artists to create artwork that features on each product.

There are three things that make us different to our competitors:

  1. We challenge industry norms, which would suggest going into origin and purchasing the raw commodity at a much lower cost. Instead, we decided to work with our Colombian partners to source our cacao and have our product more finished at origin before it reaches our Edinburgh kitchen. We purchase couverture – high quality chocolate buttons – from Colombia and use it to create chocolate products in our Edinburgh kitchen. This contributes to the economy of a developing country, and it’s something that we’re really proud of.
  2. We collaborate with contemporary artists from all over the world, commissioning bespoke designs that we use as wrappers for our chocolates. This allows our products to look unique and simultaneously provides a platform for artists to showcase their work to an audience that may have never come across their art before.
  3. We manufacture our product in-house, which is incredibly rare in the chocolate industry. Would it be easier to outsource the manufacturing aspect? Very possibly. But producing our products in-house means we can follow the whole process, from start to finish, and in doing so we can guarantee a much higher quality.
Several full hessian sacks are piled up in a wooden crate with an open front.
Sacks of chocolate

Our affinity with contemporary art & design has made us a key player in Scotland’s cultural landscape, from where we export our values and passion worldwide. By treating every product as a miniature work of art, we’re proud to have joined the international art conversation.

We use matt papers to wrap our chocolate bars, as the nature of the paper gives it a richer feel and texture that emphasises the artwork.

When it comes to sustainability and environmental awareness, we make an effort to source recyclable materials where possible, which is a challenge with food packaging as it has to be food-safe. Where we can, we also have redesigned boxes to be made flat-packed and have moved production closer to our factory to save on transportation miles.

A range of chocolate bars are arranged neatly in a display. All are wrapped with a different designed paper.
Artwork on COCO Chocolatier wrappers

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?

I love that it’s a challenge. Every new project, collaboration and product needs to be meticulously thought through and its progress monitored every step of the way. We’re a small team, so we all know each other pretty well. Each step of the process is interesting for different reasons: sourcing our chocolate, following the in-house manufacturing process, developing new products and creating marketing campaigns. I enjoy overseeing all these areas and I love being able to make a product that’s different to everything else that you see on the shelves today.

What’s the proudest moment of your business career?

We’ve been lucky to collaborate with some great artists and institutions, both at home and internationally. Our collaboration with TATE Modern was particularly interesting, as it was the first time we collaborated closely with such a well-established art gallery. It was great to produce bespoke chocolate bars for them, as we believe every one of our products wouldn’t look out of place in a museum!

What is your favourite Trust place?

I grew up in the Scottish Highlands, across the west coast and Lochcarron. I have wonderful memories of growing up in the Highlands and can’t wait to go back up. In particular I’d like to head to the heart of the Scottish Highlands and visit Glencoe – it’s been such a long time since I’ve been up there!

How did you start working with the Trust?

We started working with the Trust in 2015. We were, and still are, delighted to showcase our product in Scotland where it’s made.

What’s your favourite product that you supply to the Trust and what was the inspiration behind it?

It would definitely be the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Chocolate Bar, which is made with pristine sea salt from the Isle of Skye.

What do you love about Scotland? #fortheloveofscotland

Scotland is my home. It’s where I was born and raised, and where I’ve chosen to live my life as a professional. I never moved away because it has all I could ever want. It’s a beautiful country, with exciting cities as well as plenty of countryside just on your doorstep. Edinburgh, where I live and work, is a vibrant city. In addition to being beautiful, it has plenty to offer.

Isle of Skye Sea Salt Chocolate Bar

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