We Discover More About Darlington's New Hot Chocolate Company Hygge
Robert Pattinson and Ben Bradley have created a delicious drink that not only tastes great but makes you feel good too
Based in Darlington, Ben and Robert have a combined 40 years of experience in the food manufacturing industry, and pride themselves on being super foodies with a passion for innovation and traditional values. ‘I am a food scientist by trade and have studied for a masters in gastronomy,’ Robert says. ‘I’ve worked for big businesses creating and developing concepts and taking them to the market,’ he adds. Ben on the other hand has 20 years’ experience in the technical and operations side of the large-scale food manufacturing industry. ‘I’m certainly an entrepreneur at heart and have always had a desire to try something for myself,’ he says.
With plenty of experience and knowledge between them, and an increasing frustration with the variety of hot chocolates on offer across cafés, restaurants and retail outlets, Robert and Ben decided to launch their own product.
‘We knew there was a gap in the market, not just for amazing hot chocolate but for single serve hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is an impulse product that people really fancy at that moment, so single serve really ticks the box. It also enables people to gift that Hygge moment which is really important to us,’ Robert explains.
A big part of the brand’s identity is the mindfulness aspect. Hygge (pronounced ‘hyoo-gah’) is the Danish word that describes the feeling of cosiness and emotional warmth. It’s all about taking a moment away from the daily rush of life to enjoy something that makes you feel good – and for Robert and Ben, their hot chocolate is the ultimate Hygge moment.
Robert and Ben have spent the last three years developing their recipe. ‘We use quality ingredients and a lot of real chocolate to create Hygge Hot Chocolate. We approached it scientifically too,’ explains Robert. ‘We really thought about melting points of the different chocolate we use, and particle size, as well as using ingredients that are able to create that lasting taste that everyone loves from a great hot chocolate.’
As well as their classic milk chocolate flavour, Robert and Ben have created a single white Hygge Hot Chocolate. ‘White hot chocolate is literally never done properly – it’s always far too sweet – but we think we have got the balance right in ours. In fact, we believe we’ve created the best white hot chocolate we have ever tasted and think this is the first adult white hot chocolate available,’ Robert says.
As well as their two current flavours, they’ve also collaborated with local potter Jeanet Ingwersen Ceramics to create the perfect drinking mug. ‘We really wanted to create a drinking bowl to add to the whole Hygge Hot Chocolate experience. It was important to us that we find a local potter who understands what Hygge is all about and with this in mind we felt Jeanet was the perfect partner,’ Robert explains. ‘We are so proud of our drinking skål and we think it’s perfect to hold as you drink your delicious hot chocolate and get cosy under your favourite throw.’
The reaction has been great so far. ‘We couldn’t have asked for better feedback. Someone suggested it is like drinking heaven and we’ll take that!’ says Robert. ‘The reactions have been really positive, especially since a donation from the purchase of each tube goes to an amazing mental health charity, Anxious Minds,’ he adds.
Committed to creating the best hot chocolate possible with self-care and mindfulness at the forefront of that experience, Robert and Ben’s journey has just begun. ‘Our aim is to be the UK’s number one gourmet hot chocolate brand on three fronts; single-serve, gifting and mindfulness,’ Robert says.
With plans to expand their product range in the future the team are excited for what’s to come. ‘We will take our time and make sure that everything we launch is the best it can be,’ Robert says.
‘We spent three years developing Hygge Hot Chocolate to ensure it was not only the best but that it was versatile – for example it works really well as a milkshake too,’ Ben adds. ‘We look forward to sharing the recipe with our customers in those warmer months, so watch this space!’
If you’re not drinking hot chocolate, what are you drinking?
Best place for food in the North East?
Dobson & Parnell – they just lack a good hot chocolate!
A local hidden gem?
This year we’ve tried to explore County Durham and the Dales a bit more with our dogs. Robert has Humphrey the Labrador and I have Wilson the mini Dachshund. Hury Reservoir and Low Barns Nature Reserve are both great.
An item you couldn’t live without?
A milk frother – it’s a hot chocolate level-up.