For more than a decade, Jennifer Earle has been introducing cocoa nuts to fine examples of their favourite treat on her Chocolate Ecstasy Tours.
The phrase ‘small but mighty’ could have been coined to describe Jen. Eleven years ago, she founded a business centred on chocolate discovery walks; now joined by Taste Tripper; a company which further enables people to get to know cities through gourmet goodies. It’s safe to say that there’s a lot on her plate; and even safer to say that she relishes every last morsel.
You seem to always be eating chocolate… even for breakfast?
Sometimes! Really dark chocolate is not much different to having an espresso. I’ll usually always have eaten chocolate in some form by 10am.
How did you mastermind Chocolate Ecstasy Tours?
Primarily because I’m greedy! I love to try small amounts of lots of things. I also really love London – the buildings, the people, the things to do, and the ongoing changes. I also really like to talk. I started the tours partly because, although I think the city’s chocolate scene is better than anywhere else in the world, I found some of the shops intimidating – the experience was like daring to go into an expensive jewellery boutique.
And how did the business become real?
I met a web coach at a networking event who helped me with some basics. I read books, visited shops, talked to people in the industry, and attended events to instil enough confidence about chocolate to lead a tour.
I was paranoid about sounding stupid, and speaking to the shops about my idea was hard initially. I was way out of my comfort zone, but sometimes that’s the only way to get successful.
After testing the initial tour on friends and refining the structure, I started using my networks and Google Adwords to sell tickets – and the first tour was full.
You offer multiple tours – where do they cover, and what’s your favourite?
Chocolate shops tend to be in London’s prestigious areas – our six tours currently cover Notting Hill, Chelsea and Belgravia, Mayfair, Soho and Covent Garden. They’re all unique, but all really visually stimulating and full of rich history. I genuinely love them all.
I’ve been on several tours, but for those not so lucky, what happens?
We have really small groups so it’s more like hanging out with new friends than being lectured to. Although the shortest tour is 2½ hours long, we spend a good part sat down, the guide explaining what you’ll taste. As we walk, we share local history. Every tour includes a decadent hot chocolate, and usually some non-chocolate treats. At every shop we try a few items – by the end, we promise everyone will have had their fill of chocolate!
I tell everyone what I love in each place and what’s unique, and I’ve diligently tasted everything so I can help other people find their favourites! We ask people to share their preferred style of chocolate at the beginning of the tour, but there’s no pressure to buy. Although we do get discounts…
You’re one of the UK’s premier chocolate experts – what else do you do in the field?
I judge various awards, advise on menu and product development, have written articles, and appear as an expert guest on TV, radio and for ‘Tried & Tested’ features. I lead talks and tastings at food shows, corporate events, and on behalf of chocolate companies. I also spend a few days a year teaching about chocolate in primary schools.
What’s the story on your newest baby, Taste Tripper?
Our mission is to help people find fabulous things and explore a city in a flexible manner. We sell themed artisan ‘Explorer Packs’ containing a map, recipes, fun facts and featured location cards you can swap for something delicious – the cost of the whole pack is less than all the things you get to sample! Of course, we started with a chocolate edition.
- Follow Jen on Twitter (@chocolateguide) and Instagram (@jennifer.earle)
- Visit the Chocolate Ecstasy Tours website here
- Visit the Taste Tripper website here
- To read more about Taste Tripper’s explorer packs, click here