Tucked away in a little factory on the South Side of Glasgow are a glorious duo of chocolate makers called Lara and Cameron. They have been winning awards left right and centre for their handcrafted bean to bar chocolate and when you begin to delve into their process, they really are something to marvel at. Unlike the big guys, Bare Bones seek out the very best speciality cacao beans from Madagasgar, Hondurus, Guatemala and Dominican Republic and they pay a premium price for them.

'An incredible chocolate bar starts with an incredible farmer.' (Bare Bones)

Arriving at the workshop in sacks, each cacao bean is meticulously sorted by hand and then slow roasted in a coffee roaster in small batches. Once roasted, the nibs are separated from the husks and ground with cocoa butter and sugar for up to 72 hours. Left to age for 2-3 weeks the chocolate is then tempered, hand poured into bars and packaged in beautiful boxes made from recycled coffee cups.

'No additives. No Emulsifiers. Just the Bare Bones.'

I think it's time we met these incredible makers.

 Describe Bare Bones in 5 words.

'Flavour. Craft. Sustainability. Moments. Special.'

Tell us about how you both got into the art of bean to bar chocolate making? 

'We have always been so passionate about coffee and speciality food, and love to experiment in the kitchen with different ferments or breads. I (Lara) was a photographer in London at the time and was lucky enough to be photographing some inspiring chefs and food producers. I was so fascinated by their craft and really longed to have our own food company one day.

We loved eating bean to bar chocolate and were so intrigued by the craft chocolate movement in the US. We started reading up on the incredible methods of how cacao is harvested, the process of creating chocolate and the science behind it all and we were completely hooked! We got some small pieces of machinery and started making it ourselves from home – testing batches on our friends and family. They all loved it and as we got better and better at making chocolate, we decided to launch our own business in November 2018.'  

What are your favourite parts of the process?

 'We both have such different roles in the business. Cam focusses on the making of the chocolate. He's an engineer so his methodical mind is just perfect for chocolate making as it really is all maths and tweaking machines! He is really incredible at roasting the cacao, creating such amazing flavours and depth in the chocolate. I wrap and package the chocolate with our production assistant Holly. My role is split between making, talking to our wholesale stockists and customers and our social media (which I absolutely love as I can use my photography here too.) Chocolate making is so varied and every day is different, which we both really love. We feel very lucky to be working on something we love each day and are so grateful to be busy during these difficult times.'

On that note, what are the main challenges you have faced in these uncertain times? 

'Covid really has been a challenge for us in different ways. Our demand increased which was incredible but as we have a tiny workshop we weren’t able to hire additional help and the 3 of us were working at breaking point to fulfil orders. Chocolate making is a long process and we can’t cut corners. Stock control made it really difficult too as some of our suppliers had their own issues with Covid. We source our beans from Central America and Madagascar and work with bean specialist companies in Europe to bring them into the UK so we are definitely seeing some challenges that haven’t yet been solved.' 

What small pleasures have seen you through this past year?

'At the moment our workshop is split between two locations and our roaster is in my parent’s garden. During the months leading up to Christmas we were roasting cacao every night after a shift in the workshop and my mum and dad made us the most incredible meals to keep us going. I don’t think we would have survived without them as we were working around the clock! We are so lucky to both have such supportive families.'

You're based in one of my favourite cities, Glasgow. Tell us about some of your favourite secret spots to eat, drink and shop?

 'Glasgow really is such an incredible place! We think it is like a mini London and there are so many great places to go. Pasesano is just brilliant and you can’t beat a good pizza with friends. Coffee at Perch and Rest and Short Long Black and for drinks, Stravaigin has such a great atmosphere. For independent shopping, Hoos is the best homewares shop ever. It is impossible to go in there without buying something special. We are so proud to have our bars and hot chocolate in there too.' 

 If Bare Bones were to make a Glasgow inspired chocolate bar, what ingredients would be in there and why?

'We love single origin chocolate and showcasing the flavours within the cacao,  but have recently started experimenting more and a whisky chocolate could be really special.'

What lies ahead for Bare Bones?

'We are hoping to move into a bigger workshop this year which is so exciting. We'll be able to have all of our production in one location and will no longer be falling over each other! When Covid is over we would love to host chocolate factory tours and tasting nights… which is something we have always dreamed of doing!' 

All images taken by Lara of Bare Bones.

Thank you Bare Bones for taking time out to talk to us at Hub.

It's been a real treat.