Paul A Young Introduces the World's First Whole Bean Chocolate

By Chris Osburn •

Paul A Young has defied fellow chocolatiers and introduced the world's first whole bean chocolate bar. Made using the entire cocoa bean, not only does it taste great, but it has more nutritional value too!

Usually when a noteworthy development in the world of chocolate (or any product for that matter) comes along, the big story is all about how some sort of new step has been added to the process, not about how one that's been an integral part since the beginning has been bypassed. But that's just what artisan chocolatier Paul A Young has done by becoming the first chocolatier to make chocolate using whole cocoa beans. 

As it goes, cocoa bean shells have always been removed before the beans get sent on their way to become chocolate. No one's quite sure why the shells are removed; that's just how it's always been done. Shelling is labour intensive (or extra industrial) – think a slightly more arduous version of shelling peas or fava beans – and results in a heap of waste. But is it even necessary? Perhaps decades ago, early machinery couldn't cope with grinding the tough shells of cocoa beans, but these days a suitable grinder small enough for most home kitchens can be purchased for well under a £1,000 (Paul and co use a Cocoatown ECGC-12SL Melanger).

Over the past few months, Paul has been working to make his own bean-to-bar chocolate. With team members Nick and Michael – who make all their products completely by hand in small batches and with only fresh ingredients – Paul discovered that having to shell each individual bean was a time consuming chore taking away from more creative and productive activities. Whether out of impatience, practicality, laziness or an approach that's unafraid to question convention, a decision came about to see what would happen if forwent the shelling all together and saw what would happen if they simply left the shells on. “There was flavour in the shell,” Paul explained at recent tasting while also mentioning the potential of added nutrition and dietary fibre that comes with leaving the shells on.

The experiment apparently went well as Paul is now introducing two whole bean chocolate bars, a 73% and 64% using a blend of Criollo, Trinitario, and Forestero beans bought direct from Menakao farms in Madagascar. For the bars, whole beans are granite-ground with Billington's Organic Unrefined Demerara sugar for a more “pure” experience as Paul put it. The chocolates reveal a full-on vibrant flavour with a “characterful” grainy texture. 

According to Paul:

It's the most exciting project for us … something we have been developing for some months. The cocoa bean is so precious and special that I didn't want to waste any part of it. I'm so proud of what we have produced and I hope it will pave the way for others to try this new way of making bean-to-bar chocolate.

With the release of his whole bean chocolate bars, Paul joins a select group of bean-to-bar produces in the UK (there are fewer than ten here at the moment … and not too many more craft producers doing so in other countries) and is the first known chocolatier to offer whole bean chocolate products to the public. 

Paul A Young's whole bean chocolate bars cost £6.95 each and are available in shop from this week and are at the very least worth having a taste. Be on the lookout for a new line of whole bean truffles to be rolled out soon as well as more whole bean products to be added to the range. 

Paul A Young has four shops (all in London) at Camden Passage, Wardour Street, the Royal Exchange, and the Heal's home store on Tottenham Court Road. Find out more at paulayoung.co.uk


Chris Osburn

Chris is a freelance writer and photographer, longtime blogger and avid foodie. Originally from the American deep south, he's worked all over the world and has called London home since 2001. He thinks the British dining scene is as dynamic and delicious as ever, but more and more seems to find his own kitchen to be the most exciting place to eat

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