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Behind our Bespoke QT Chocolate Bar with Chocolatier, Angela Howell

Aug 25, 2023  ·  4 min read

Introducing Ember, a sweet collaboration between QT Queenstown and Ocho Chocolate. It’s our love letter to the Southern solstice. A bedtime story that turned out to be true. Inspired by our alpine adventureland. Creamy single-origin milk chocolate melds with vanilla bean, cinnamon spice and the crunch of smoked caramel. We chatted with Ocho General Manager, Angela Howell on their process, ethical chocolate and how the team dreamt up our bespoke flavour for Ember.

Angela Howell, General Manager at Ocho

Tell us about the Ocho story – how did Ocho come to be?

Ocho’s origin story is quite magical. When Cadbury announced they were leaving Dunedin, this would have meant an end to over 150 years of chocolate manufacturing in Dunedin. The city couldn’t bear the thought of this so crowdfunded to keep chocolate manufacturing in the city. The factory is owned by 3735 New Zealanders from all walks of life who wanted to keep chocolate here, but also wanted chocolate manufacturing to be more ethical.

Ocho’s Dunedin factory

Many people – us included – didn’t realise the concept of ‘fair trade chocolate.’ What does this message mean to you?

Ocho understands that most consumers aren’t aware of the extremely unethical practices that go into cocoa production. The main chocolate companies control the price so farmers resort to slavery to meet the price. Ocho only buys chocolate directly from the farmers in the South Pacific and pays twice as much as they get on the commodity market, ensuring all who are involved in our chocolate’s production are compensated appropriately.

Single-origin beans imported from the South Pacific

Tell us about being a ‘bean to bar’ chocolatier. Why is this important to you?

Bean to bar is important with ethics and also quality. 99% of chocolate is a blend of beans from all over the world and is flavoured with vanilla etc to homogenise the flavour. Single origin chocolate is like fine wine – we honour the flavour of the bean which varies considerably depending on location and season. Like coffee, we roast the beans according to the size, water and cocoa butter content – bringing out the best of each origin.

Let’s talk about Ember, the bar you’ve created for us at QT Queenstown. How did you translate the brief we gave you of ‘putting the taste of Queenstown into a bar’?

This was a great process. We listened to the desire for a milk chocolate with warm spices and smoke, and decided that the flavouring would be best suited to an inclusion so as not to disguise the delicate flavour of the Papua New Guinea bean. The results speak for themselves.


The process of creating our own bespoke flavour has been so rewarding. Tell us about your process of making chocolate, from bean to bar?

Bean to bar is a very labour-intensive process as we don’t buy the crumb from Europe like other companies – we make the bulk chocolate from scratch. Also with the tempering, because we don’t use emulsifiers like other manufacturers, we need to run short batches. The skill from the temperers is second to none and our very talented team are the pride of Ocho. Not using emulsifiers makes the mouth feel super smooth and creamy, with no claggy after taste.

The proof’s in the pudding – or in this case, the chocolate. Thank you, Angela, it’s been a pleasure working together.

Ocho is delighted to share our craft with QT’s discerning clientele and are very grateful for the opportunity to share our values – one bar at a time.

Ember is available to purchase at Reception. The cover art for our bespoke chocolate block with Ocho was designed by Alexandra Weston. Check out her art in Gallery 6.

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