April 16, 2010

Rabot Estate opens in Borough Market

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Written by: Martin Christy

Today saw the launch of UK premium chocolate chain Hotel Chocolat‘s new high end chocolate shop, Rabot Estate. Strategically placed in Borough Market – the centre of London foodie culture, the new store marks quite a departure from the chain’s usual boutique style.


Steel drum music at the opening of the new Rabot Estate shop

I was expecting something flash and out of place. Perhaps a commercial sector variation on the Hotel Chocolat branding that might have marked the beginning of the ‘Spitalfieldisation‘ of Borough Market. Instead, the new store has something of a Caribbean street food feel, with plenty of exposed brickwork, recovered timber and corrugated metal.

The store opens directly onto Stoney Street and a steel band (well, band of two) greeted the guests on this first official day of the new shop. This ‘open’ day featured plenty of free sampling of Rabot chocolate, chocolate tapas and desserts and cocoa tea.

Angus Thirwell speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony

Angus Thirwell speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony

Rabot Estate bars

On sale at the store are Rabot themed bars, including Rabot Estate, St Lucia and other country origin chocolate bars – all made for Hotel Chocolat by their chocolate maker partners in Germany, Coppenneur.

The most successful of these was the new 120 hour conched ‘Island Growers’ 65% dark. This has full yellow fruit and honey notes, with a slight tobacco hint and a clean after taste – certainly the best St Lucia so far to come our of the Hotel Chocolate/Coppenneur partnership.  The 65% also worked pretty well in bars with whole Piedmont hazelnuts.

Hotel Chocolat founder Angus Thirwell told me that the equivalent recipe for the single plantation Rabot Estate bar was not quite ready for public consumption yet, but would be available soon.

Single source means seasonal variation, so recipes often need to be perfected for each batch.

Dash of milk

Instead the Rabot beans pop up in the new ‘Dash of Milk’ range – strong milk bars that are not pretending to be a conventional milk chocolate, but feature milk powder in place of sugar to take some edge off.

So in fact, the 70% ‘Dash of Milk’ is only 10% sugar. The lack of sweetness takes some getting used to, but the milky hit at the end takes the edge off.

For the more feint-hearted, the 50% ‘dash’ with 20% milk powder and 30% sugar comes in 150g packs with cacao nibs, though I did find this combination a little ‘meaty’ in flavour.

Sampling chocolate treats on the opening day

Sampling chocolate treats on the opening day

As well as Rabot coated nibs and flavoured bars in simple, artisan style packaging, the store includes a selection of the regular Hotel Chocolat range – there aren’t quite enough Rabot products to fill up a whole shop yet, and they’ll probably always be some room here for the shinier Hotel Chocolat gift products. (These are made in Hotel Chocolat’s own factory in Huntingdon, England, using Callebaut chocolate.)

The shop also features a food bar serving cocoa tea (optionally with a shot of St Lucian rum – should I really have tried that at 11am in the morning?) and a selection of sweet and and savoury dishes using St Lucia chocolate.

All in all a pleasant surprise and an impressive new addition to the London chocolate scene, adding a different take to our growing selection of chocolate shops.


Rabot Estate
2 Stoney Street
Borough Market

Tel: +44 (0)20 7403 9852


Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 07.00 – 18.00

About the Author

Martin Christy
Martin Christy is Seventy%’s editor and founder and is a leading voice in the chocolate industry, promoting the cause of fine chocolate and fine cacao and those who produce them. With twenty years’ experience of fine chocolate, he has travelled extensively visiting cocoa plantations and meeting the world’s top producers and is a consultant to the fine chocolate and cacao growing industries worldwide. Martin is Judging Director of the International Chocolate Awards, which he founded in the UK with Kate Johns of Chocolate Week. He is also Acting Chairman of the new fine cacao and chocolate industry association, Direct Cacao and is a member of the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative Tasting Panel. He is also a freelance writer about fine chocolate, contributing to UK magazines and several books about fine chocolate.



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  1. This is the beginning of the ‘Spitalfieldsation’ of Borough without a doubt. The fact that the trustees insisted Hotel Chocolat call the shop something else does not alter the fact tha a chain has now been given a lease within the market.

  2. Anne

    Callebaut chocolate disguised as ‘artisanal’. oh dear, oh dear.

  3. Hotel Chocolat do mostly use Callebaut, but the Rabot Estate St Lucia and their other origins are made by Coppeneur in Germany. There were Hotel Chocolat products in the new shop, so I’d say it was about half and half Coppeneur and Callebaut.

    I made a point of asking what chocolate was being used in the café, and was always told it was Rabot Estate. Where I could taste it in the dishes, it would not have said it was Callebaut. The Rabot Estate chocolate itself is clearly not Callebaut – it’s not as refined and doesn’t have the distinctive ‘candy’ nose of Callebaut.

    Hotel Chocolat are a Callebaut house, but we have to give credit where credit is due.

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