Pump Street Bakery Chocolate Rooms, Orford, Suffolk
Pump Street Bakery is one of only a handful of UK producers who make small batch, handmade chocolate from beans imported directly from cocoa farms and cooperatives around the world.
Pump Street Bakery chocolate on display at the Aldeburgh Food Festival
I first came across the amazing chocolate produced by Pump Street Bakery at the BBC Good Food Show. Tasting their bars of single estate chocolate is akin to tasting a fine wine. Each one reveals a depth of different flavours that we’re unaccustomed to in Britain.
The Aldeburgh Food Festival, with its fringe programme of tours, gave me the perfect excuse to visit their chocolate rooms in their Suffolk home of Orford, to find out how they do it.
Don’t go home without a bar of their Sourdough and Seasalt (66%). It marries their seaside location with their baking heritage and simply tastes wonderful.
The Story of Pump Street Bakery
Pump Street Bakery, a father and daughter business, first started out making sourdough bread and pastries. And what bread they bake. It’s pure manna from heaven winning them BBC Food Producer of the Year in 2012.
Customers drive miles to their Orford bakery and café just to buy one of their rustic loaves or to sink their teeth into a rich Eccles cake made with Armagnac-infused currants and raisins.
Focusing on the same core principles of taking time to source the best ingredients, and to make a quality product, this dynamic duo made mastering the art of chocolate making, their next quest.
Now the Pump Street chocolate team can produce over 500 chocolate bars an hour, many of which are destined for shops such as London’s iconic department store, Liberty.
Sacks of cocoa beans
Cocoa beans ready to be roasted
The Rise of Bean to Bar and Why It’s Important
Pump Street Bakery import their single origin beans from small family farms and co-operatives in fertile cacao-growing locations in countries such Ecuador, Jamaica and Grenada. This is unlike the majority of chocolatiers who buy in big blocks of chocolate and melt it down.
The chocolate tour starts with a handy introduction to the history of chocolate and the industry. Apparently 94% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa where workers are exploited in order to mass produce cheap sugary chocolate.
Today, technology has helped significantly by cutting out the middle man. Pump Street Bakery’s Chocolate team use Skype to talk directly to the farmers and check on key stages of the process such as fermentation, when the beans of the cocoa pod are covered in banana leaves to kill the seed and force more flavour into the bean.
Grinding and conching releases the flavours
Pump Street can produce 500 chocolate bars an hour
Watch the Bean to Bar Process
The tour really does help you understand how they create their carefully crafted chocolate bars.
You see the sacks of cocoa beans, watch them being sorted before they are roasted on trays and passed through a winnowing machine ready for the grinder.
They ‘rest’ giant chocolate bars for 30 days to allow the flavours to mature. Chocolate terms such as conching and tempering are all explained and you watch as each chocolate bar is carefully packaged by hand into their distinctive re-sealable brown envelopes.
Pump Street Bakery Jamaica Bar (75%)
Pump Street Bakery Drinking Chocolate
Pump Street Chocolate Tasting Notes
The chocolate tasting at the end of the tour reveals the rich and subtle flavours that have won Pump Street Bakery Chocolate a seriously impressive number of awards.
The milk chocolate Madagascar bar (58%) is fruity with cherry flavours; the Jamaica (75%) has distinctive notes of rum; the Grenada (70%), cherry followed by caramel (try it with a single malt whisky).
Their most distinctive bar and best seller is their Sourdough and Seasalt (66%). It uses sourdough crumbs from the bakery to give it a really satisfying crunchy crunch.
Thank your lucky stars if you can get hold of their limited edition Eccles bar. It’s made using the leftover currants and raisins from their Eccles cakes.
- Tours take place as part of Aldeburgh Food Festival but also on selected dates throughout the year
- Visit the Pump Street Bakery café afterwards for coffee and one of their delicious patisseries
- Eat lunch at Butley Oysterage opposite. It’s an Orford institution
- Walk along by the coastal path and buy fresh fish from the fish sheds
- Go shopping for Suffolk produce at Snape Maltings
- Sign up to Cocoa Runners and you’ll often find a bar of Pump Street Chocolate in your monthly box
- Need a gift? Take a look at the 60 Best Gifts For Chocolate Lovers
Ready to Taste? Shop For Pump Street Bakery Chocolate
Where to Stay in Orford
The Crown & Castle
If you’re looking for accommodation in Orford, The Crown & Castle hotel is in a lovely spot. It overlooks Orford Castle and is just a short stroll from Pump Street Bakery where you can sit and enjoy a morning coffee and a delicious pastry. This 21-bedroom hotel was owned for nineteen years by Ruth Watson, of The Hotel Inspector fame until she sold it in 2017. It’s an ideal place to stay for a peaceful break by the sea.
Ready to Start Planning a Weekend Break in Suffolk? See All: Best Places to Stay in Suffolk
Leave me in the car while you do the tour and let’s go for a coastal walk afterwards.
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The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.