Not many people are lucky enough to be surrounded with delicious high-quality chocolate all day long, but Phyllys-Sarah Naidu, founder of City Chocolates, is fortunate enough to wake up each day and relish in selling the best of Australian artisan chocolate to the world. City Chocolates is an innovative online platform that curates the best non-commercial Australian chocolate and takes all the guesswork out of choosing quality, organic and award-winning chocolate as a gift or even as a daily treat for yourself.
With over 80 offerings, there’s something for everyone and we delve in and have a chat with Phyllys to find out more about how and why she started City Chocolates as well as pick her brain on how Australia fares when it comes to the chocolate industry.
1. Give us a brief background of City Chocolates and what made you decide to launch the company.
I was born with food allergies and a love of good chocolates; City Chocolates was first born to fulfill a passion to access chocolates made with love for myself, family and friends. It has now evolved to empower innovative, specialist Australian Makers and to educate Australian consumers about handmade, delicious chocolate alternatives that is good for you and the planet.
City Chocolates curated list of products are all handmade in Australia; where the ethically sourced cacao butter is blended with the natural goodness of Australian ingredients to ensure every indulgent bite is unforgettable.
I spent 18 months researching for the best chocolate makers, award-winning bars and designing the online platform to showcase my products.
2. What are some challenges you face with running your own business/starting your own company?
I spent countless hours researching the laws and regulations pertaining to setting up and operating a business. Others include procuring the right insurances, ensuring on-time tax submissions, Accounting and Bookkeeping, adhering to NSW Food Authority, optimised Payment Platforms, Website Design, Customer Privacy, Marketing and Advertising, Product and Inventory management, Shipping and Postage are among the myriad challenges faced.
3. As a female founder, what are some lessons or tips you’ll give other female entrepreneurs?
Establishing a support network of other female founders and female business owners whom you can catch-up with on a regular basis is immensely helpful on your journey. Another good idea is to set-up business partnerships where you are able to leverage the expertise, products and services of complementary businesses.
4. How do you decide on whom to stock at City Chocolates? Tell us a bit more about your selection criteria.
- Makers needs to be long-standing, established, reputable Australian businesses with a several product lines and award-winning bars among their range. They also need to satisfy one or more of the following requirements; Artisan, Organic, Single-Origin, Dark (Dairy-Free), Milk, Single Origin, Bean to Bar, Vegan and Low Preservatives.
- My Makers purchase high quality cocoa beans from premium plantations around the world and ensure Fair Trade by buying the cocoa beans directly from the farmers or through a collective group. By sourcing original cacao beans from small-scale cacao plantations and custom tailoring their process, Makers have been able to create flavoursome and unique chocolates you are unable to purchase anywhere else.
5. What are the benefits (as well as misconceptions) that people have about chocolate?
I think people are still getting used to the idea and the price difference of Artisan handmade chocolates.
The quality and quantity (percentage) of cocoa butter in each artisan, bean to bar chocolate and the resulting depth and breadth in taste is worlds apart compared to that of a mass-produced chocolate.
The visceral, rich, pure, fresh, delicious chocolate that results from an end to end process where the Maker personally roasts, cracks, winnows, conchs, tempers the cocoa beans, lingers long after you have taken the first bite.
Artisan chocolate makers tinker, experiment and innovate with each bean variant to produce unique flavour profiles and chocolates that you are unable to find on supermarket shelves.
6. Tell us more about single origin chocolate versus blends?
Single-origin chocolate showcases the flavours profile of a particular cocoa bean from a specific plantation. Blends include at least two different varieties of cacao that have been purposely put together by the Maker. Makers either choose to make only single-origin chocolate, only blends or a mix of both types. Blends allows the Makers to create specific taste profiles while single-origin chocolate maximises the favour from a particular bean.
7. In your opinion, how would you compare Australian chocolate against traditional chocolate producing countries like Belgium and France?
There are several factors at play here, the quality of the cocoa bean, the talent and focus of the Makers, the process applied to reveal the profile and possibilities of each bean type, so as to create chocolates that are unique and flavoursome.
In my opinion every country, maker and brand make chocolates that reveals their identity, talent and values. As such the decision ultimately rests with the customer and their taste palate as to which chocolate type or origin is most appealing to them.
Having said that, Australian Makers are on par with every other chocolate Makers in the world. Jasper and Myrtle, Gabriel Chocolate and Monsieur Truffe have won both local and/or international awards for their products.
8. What are some chocolate trends we are seeing?
Gluten-Free, Dairy-free and Vegan chocolate demand are certainly on the rise and customers are also seeking a high percentage of cacao butter in their chocolates between 80% and 99%.
9. What are some of your favourite recipes incorporating chocolate?
My favourite weekend or anytime recipe are Gluten-free pancakes made with Buckwheat flour and Organic Monsieur Truffe chocolate (58% Hazelnuts, Dark Gianduja, Dairy-Free and Vegan). It is not only extremely delicious and satisfying but keeps you full for hours.
10. What is the most popular/bestselling chocolate in your store?
My best-sellers are definitely the following,
- Organic Monsieur Truffe 58% Dark Hazelnuts Gianduja
- 37% Hazelnuts Milk Gianduja
- Organic Monsieur Truffe – 51% Milk with Homemade Honeycomb
- Monsieur Truffe 36% Milk Caramel with Tasman Sea-salt
- Jasper + Myrtle Macadamia & Lemon Myrtle Milk Chocolate
- Jasper + Myrtle Spiced Rum Dark Chocolate
- Jasper + Myrtle White Chocolate and Sour Cherries
- Jasper + Myrtle Black Opal – Bougainville Nunu 80% Dark Chocolate
- Bon Bon Artisan – Macadamias in Milk Chocolate (Grab Bag)
- Bon Bon Artisan – Hazelnuts in Milk Chocolate (Grab Bag)
- Gabriel Chocolate – Orange Milk 45% Chocolate – Bean to Bar
- Gabriel Chocolate – Orange Dark Chocolate – Bean to Bar
- Gabriel Chocolate – Espresso Dark Chocolate Dark – Bean to Bar
- Gabriel Chocolate – Venezuela Rio Caribe 45% Milk – Bean to Bar
- Jasper + Myrtle Classic Milk Chocolate
- Jasper + Myrtle – Single-Origin 72% Dark Drinking Chocolate
11. Which chocolate would you recommend someone buy a friend who likes sweet flavors versus someone who likes bitter undertones?
I will recommend a straight up milk chocolate with a cocoa percentage of between 35% and 37%. Dark chocolates with cocoa percentage of between 72% and 99% will certainly suit those who prefer the intense cocoa taste.
12. What are some unusual or interesting food/drink pairings that we must try when it comes to chocolate?
Chocolate with Brandy or Whisky is certainly getting momentum. Monsieur Truffe, one of the most bold and creative Makers has recently come up with the following Organic and Vegan, Gluten Free Bars:
- 65% Dark Chocolate bar, with Licorice, Vegan Marshmallows, Blackberries and Blackcurrants
- 65% Dark Chocolate Bar with cacao nibs aged in single-malt Australian Whisky
- 65% Dark Chocolate Bar with sour cherries and cranberries mascaraed in Bass & Flinders Cerise Gin.
13. What is next for City Chocolates?
City Chocolates is currently on the search to add exciting new Artisan bean to bar Makers into its foray and collaborative business partnerships to promote our brand into new territories.
14. Who do you follow on social media for inspiration?
To start shopping, visit City Chocolates, peruse their amazing selection of Australian artisan chocolates, add what you want to your ShopandBox Australian Wishlist, submit an order and get connected to an Aussie Boxer who can shop for artisan chocolate from City Chocolates as well as anything else from Australia for you!