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Knoops luxury chocolate christmas gift set brighton local chocolate business expertly crafted knoops hot chocolate

Best Hot Chocolate in Brighton at Knoops!

This is hands down the best hot chocolate I have ever had, never mind just in Brighton, EVER! Drinking a cup of Knoops is a whole different cup of chocolate, it’s got complex layers of flavours, history and love all mixed into a perfectly warm, milky, chocolatey hug for your soul!

It is well worth a visit to Market Street to get your hands around this expertly crafted, luxurious treat!

Knoops History

Knoops had humble origins in Rye – a historical town right on the border of East Sussex. There founder Jens Knoop opened his very first speciality hot chocolate shop, despite the initial misgivings of the local townsfolk about the unconventional chocolate shop with the “foreign name nobody can pronounce” (like “kuh-nuup” if you were wondering, and in Dutch means buttons!). Jens is quick to assure me that once the locals of Rye got their heads around what he was doing, and how much passion was behind it, they quickly fell in love with the idea of Knoops – and the man himself. Jens whole-heartedly returns their love, stating that “without them, he would never be here” in Brighton with his second store, or indeed in Kensington.. or Richmond or any one of his 7 other stores!

“It’s a good thing he’s created Knoops really – I think you could go a lifetime and never have tried every flavour combo on offer!”

brighton local chocolate business expertly crafted by Jens Knoop
Jens Knoop, founder of Knoops

Jens Knoop – A savvy, ethical, leader

For someone who initially didn’t know what a business plan was, Jens has certainly got the knack for growing a business into an empire. I think this is largely due to his strict adherence to his own moral code, even outside of his own business. When prospective partners approach him, he passionately asks: “What are you doing? Does it come from the heart, from the belly and from the brain – and not from the pocket? Are you creating something new or something interesting, something lasting?”

This is the kind of ethos that has enabled Knoops to become cemented firmly into Brighton’s culture, where we value expertise and passion, the unusual, the quirky. Jens Knoop is all of the above to a T, citing Brighton’s “otherness and uniqueness” as the main thing that made him desperate to open his second store here, on the cultural “island on the island”… It was a match destined to come to life! 

The CHOCOLATE

When I walked into his chocolate house, located in the heart of the Lanes on Market St, I was admittedly a little overwhelmed by the choice available to me. Before the options were: hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallow or plain? Knoops is a whole different world – in fact, it is so far-removed from the norm it borders on needing to be it’s own word for hot chocolate. First of all, there are options for the type of chocolate used based on cocoa percentage: 21 different kinds to be exact. Everything above a 54% is vegan – that’s over two thirds of the menu, and they have every type of milk you can think of, no extra charge for alternatives. There’s even a vegan milk chocolate, no more being confined to rich dark chocolate! Jens fully embraces Brighton’s foodie scene, stating how cool the city is for putting vegan fine-dining on the map, and embracing a whole new world of milk flavour combos.

“This is hot chocolate like I had never had it before”

Knoops luxury chocolate christmas gift set brighton local chocolate business expertly crafted knoops hot chocolate
Just a sprinkle of orange zest? Yes PLEASE!

The staff are intimately aware of each subtle difference in chocolate and flavour profiles, offering their expertise in what pairs well with what – not to be “vegan friendly” but to ensure you have the best possible experience of the chocolate. “A coconut milk pairs beautifully with the 47% Ruby” I’m told when I express interest in trying a completely new type of chocolate, “and paired with a hint of mint creates a really delicate flavour… if you like?”.

Oh, I did like. This was hot chocolate like I had never had before – a chocolate that somehow tasted like yogurt, raspberries and milky-minty heaven. It also… Made me feel things, a little bit nostalgic, a little bit child-like, definitely refreshed, but mostly just full of wonder! Shortly after Jens’ own hot chocolate arrives, the 66% – one of his favourites, of which he said “the base notes are quite gingerbready and christmassy already anyway but I added all sorts of spices to it!”. We toast: to Health and to Brighton!

I tried to ask, what’s your all-time favourite? But rather like a father forced to choose between his children, he refused to give me a straight answer – stating emphatically that “it changes everyday!” depending on several factors: “mood, what kind of energy do I need, what is the job of the chocolate that I need to take in…”. He says of his current blend, the 66, that “it’s a little bit of a hug, and that’s what I need at the moment”.

The Luxury Knoops Feeling

Then, presumably not to upset his other chocolatey children, he quickly moved on to telling us about his other “soft-spots”: The 73% from the Philippines and the 100% from the Solomon Islands, which both come from a UK-based chocolate maker that Jens is “very fond” of and who he has a very good relationship with. He also really likes the 72% from Peru, because it is one of the “few dark chocolates that has slight nutty notes, a bit of cashew… it’s really nice”. In terms of ingredients he really likes rosemary, but then the next day he says “maybe I want matcha!”. Well.. it’s a good thing he’s created Knoops really – I think you could go a lifetime and never have tried every flavour combo on offer! 

Knoops luxury chocolate christmas gift set brighton local chocolate business expertly crafted knoops hot chocolate
23% white chocolate to 100% dark – Knoops can serve every type of chocolate lovers’ dream hot chocolate!

Jens didn’t always have such a refined and cultivated palette – but his love of chocolate has always been a presence in his life. As a child “it was always milk chocolate” that was a treat, given to him by his doting grandmother, who predominantly raised him. He remembers how she was always very “ceremonial about it” – she would sit him down, say “you’ve been a good boy, here’s a piece of chocolate”. That same sense of ceremony is still alive at Knoops – every single hot chocolate combo I tried made me feel good to my core, and what better way to enjoy it than by sitting and people watching in the arty part of the Lanes?

Jens takes time to really connect with every part of the process of chocolate making, travelling all over the world to form relationships with cocoa farmers and chocolatiers alike. Aside from an amazing life of travel, he talks of trying to overcome the disconnect that exists between countries that farm cocoa and countries that consume chocolate. In doing so, he has built up quite a reputation within the industry – which led to Jens receiving a surprise email from farmers in Venezuela, who had been cocoa farming for over 200 years (!), who said “Hey we heard about you, and we would like to work with you!” Jens was of course, humbly in awe that they reached out to him, and expressed amazement at how privileged his position has become. 

The Ethos

In the big wide world of chocolate, how can he possibly choose between them all? He jokes at first – “Well, I eat a lot of chocolate!” – so the taste, the quality is important but more than that, he looks at the story behind it. In a moment of gravity, he states “It’s got to be a good story – in terms of sustainability.” For him, even if it’s a “beautiful chocolate”, if he doesn’t trust the “history, the heritage” behind it, then he can’t bring himself to take it on. He laments these cases, thinking “Dammit, you messed it up!” by not making an ethical, clean and sustainable chocolate. 

The upshot is this: Knoops and the vast number of sustainably minded customers that the business has shed a light on, are making a real difference to the industry. By unshakably  keeping to his own high ethical standards, and categorically refusing to do business with large scale, unsustainable chocolate makers he has forced some of these makers to “pull their socks up” and contribute “to a better world”. You can undeniably taste a better world in a cup of Knoops – Jens says it himself, his chocolate provides some much needed “escapism”, with one sip you can be transported to Mexico, Ecuador.. Tanzania or the Philippines. A cup of Knoops is a cup full of heart: what you are experiencing is love, for people and the planet, from bean to cup. 

Good news! If you can’t get to the store on Market Street in the South Lanes, you can buy Knoops chocolate flakes to make your very own cup of Knoops at home – or gift it to a friend!

Knoops luxury chocolate christmas gift set brighton local chocolate business expertly crafted knoops hot chocolate
Shaker Gift Set – Perfect for a Luxury Christmas Gift

Check out Knoops website for more details at knoops.co.uk

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