If you are a Canberra local, chances are you have seen a Jasper + Myrtle chocolate bar by now. One of Canberra's small artisanal chocolate producers, Jasper + Myrtle are a growing small business who are energised and almost bursting at the seams!
We met owners and chocolate makers Li Peng and Peter at Jasper + Myrtle, located in the beautiful Dairy Road precinct in Fyshwick.
They have utilised the recent lockdown period to renovate their shopfront, get on top of their growing production demand and plan for the future.
Their site at Dairy Road includes a deliciously enticing shopfront and their whole production facility, utilising their space to create chocolate from bean to bar.
The process begins with Li Peng and Peter sustainably sourcing cocoa beans. After the beans arrive they are then de-hulled and roasted on site. The process continues in-house with refining, conching and ageing. This is all before the chocolate meets the delectable flavour combinations Jasper + Myrtle have dreamed up. Their chocolate is then tempered to perfection, poured into moulds, made into bars and packaged!
How long have you been making chocolate and when did you create Jasper + Myrtle?
We started experimenting with making chocolate in July 2015. The 'bug' caught on with many small batches made with beans from the health food shop throughout July. I sourced our first shipment of beans (120kgs from Peru) in August 2015 and Jasper + Myrtle was set up on 31st August 2015.
After that I spent time developing a small range of products, packaging and sourcing equipment. We sold our first bar in March 2016.
Why is local shopping important to you?
As artisan chocolate makers, we are passionate about our product and processes in creating a good product. As such, we are very open and love it when local folks come to visit our factory. We always make time to show anyone who is interested our processes and facility to create an awareness that what we do is 'real food'. This is obviously a lot easier to do with local folks who visit. We find support and pride in our business amongst the Canberra community is very high and part of this is because we are local. We wouldn't survive COVID restrictions without ongoing local support. The other important part about local shopping is that with any $ spent locally, the local business then spends the funds at other local businesses, a win-win situation for all.
What is your favourite stage in the making process?
Pre-refining, hands down. Pete and I fight for that job. Firstly watching the 'river of chocolate' come through the pre-refiner is mesmerising not to mention the aroma. You have to experience it to understand.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
Our sales were certainly down when COVID-19 hit. It's still not recovered sufficiently. While walk-in sales to our store has declined significantly, we find that people are shopping differently. For example, folks are shopping more at IGAs and local shops, hence we are getting more wholesale orders from them. Our online sales have also gone up significantly. With more time on our hands, we've been working on developing new products and boosting our stock levels.
What's your favourite spot in Canberra?
Regatta Point on a clear winter's day.
What have you been binge watching?
We don't get to watch TV very much. When we do, we are often on SBS on-Demand or ABC Iview. We like crime or spy thrillers. Recent ones include The Bureau, Das Boot, Killing Eve.
Jasper + Myrtle's process from start to finish is remarkable, truly enticing and... failing any other description, mind-blowing.
The taste of the chocolate during each step and the aroma throughout each of the processes is something that can’t be explained.
Jasper + Myrtle now import all their cocoa beans from Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. They ethically source these beans and now visit the farm yearly to talk to the farmers and logistics agents, ensuring the quality of their core ingredient and forging friendships. Sustainable, passionate and inspiring.
This year Jasper + Myrtle ordered their largest shipment of cocoa beans to date.
The next shipment will be even larger, and now they have state-of-the-art equipment to handle to volume.
This exciting prospect only means one thing; more chocolate. We're definitely okay with that.
If you haven’t tried Jasper + Myrtle chocolate yet, you should!
Come grab a bar at POP Canberra, in-store or online.