The health food revolution has seen many of us take a keen interest in what we put into our bodies — we’re more conscious than ever of eating the right things. That doesn’t mean we’re not all craving a chocolate bar or two though, and there’s a UK startup that’s putting our favourite naughty snack onto the health food shopping list.
iQ Chocolate is the company creating healthy chocolate “from bean to bar”. Their produce is free from all 14 allergens – including nuts, gluten, wheat and soya – and is low on the Glyceamic index, meaning it won’t send your glucose levels soaring. The sweetness of the chocolate comes from organic coconut blossom nectar – which is a superfood itself. It’s naturally high in potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, giving you a healthy boost in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. Chocolate never looked so healthy.
Founders Kate and Jane describe themselves as “the kind of folks who want to live for a very, very long time and enjoy the journey”. It’s this ethos that underpins the ideas at the heart of iQ Chocolate — who says you can’t eat your favourite foods and be healthy at the same time? After all, the cocoa bean at the heart of chocolate is one of the world’s most nutritiously dense foods — how it ended up at the centre of the health and diabetes crises common in the developing world has to do with the way it’s farmed and processed later down the line.
iQ Chocolate set out to cut the journey from bean to bar, retaining the health benefits of the cocoa bean in its natural state while hitting on a recipe that tastes as good as the chocolate on our supermarket shelves. This proved to be something of a challenge — co-founder Kate told Mashable that the team of two “were wrestling with the art and science of making chocolate from the bean — in the old traditional ways — testing the results every step of the way.”
With the help of the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at Aberdeen University Kate and Jane tried and tested various beans. “Start up gear included a hair dryer, colander, tin dustbin lid and a washing machine, set at 1400 revs” Kate recalls — although thankfully this method is now a distant memory. Following rigorous testing the company finally became Scotland’s first bean to bar chocolatier.
This rigorous testing went on for some time. Manufacturing became an issue once the company hit on a formula they thought would impress the masses — and boost their health. Unfortunately as is the case with many budding startups, funding and interest barriers got in the way of a smooth journey to success, and Kate and Jane ended up pooling their own funds to begin the manufacturing process themselves, and their early products weren’t a treat for all tastebuds. After hearing “well, it’s OK” from those with chocolate know-how a few too many times, the pair headed back to the drawing board and eventually got the seal of approval from top chef Mark Greenaway — his approval sealed the deal.
When iQ Chocolate eventually hit the shelves, it was Real Foods in Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Whole Foods Market that gave the company its first business. Fast forward to today and the company has two stars in the Great Taste Awards and is delving into the chocolate’s application in the sporting world along with its potential to slow cognitive decline in old age. The chocolate is now stocked in 13 countries across the globe, and Kate and Jane’s plans for world domination are the driving force behind their business’s expansion.