Bremer Hachez Schokolade GmbH & Co. KG
‘Distinguished and reserved’ legacy
If there’s any company that can claim its chocolate perfectly represents its personality, Hachez Schokolade GmbH & Co. KG in Bremen, Germany, fits the bill. Tracing its origins back to founder Joseph Emile Hachez in 1890, Hachez Schokolade prides itself on carrying on the Hanseatic legacy, one both distinguished and reserved.
When it comes to chocolate, the company continues to use Hachez’ recipes and methods dating back nearly 125 years, opting for modern production methods only where manual production doesn’t provide an advantage.
As a bean-to-bar producer, the company prides itself on securing the best fine flavor beans from South America. Upon receiving the beans, the 100-hour process of converting cacao to chocolate begins at Hachez’ facility not far from the center of town.
From inspection to cleaning, the company’s roasting masters determine how long the precious beans are heated in a spherical roaster by batches. Only after roasting are the shells removed from the beans through the use of a “cracker.” The nibs are then ground in a granite melangeur with bourbon vanilla, sugar and milk powder, depending upon specific recipes. Once the cocoa mass leaves the melangeur, it goes through further refining to reach a particle size of 14 microns.
Now, the conching process begins.
Here again Hachez Schokolade insists on using a traditional conching approach, one that takes up to 72 hours. In this manner, a smoothness is reached that characterizes all of Hachez’ chocolate products.
To complement its dedication to producing fine chocolate, the company only sources the finest ingredients, which range from Bourbon vanilla and Italian almonds to French walnuts. Nougat and egg liqueurs are produced on-site to strict standards.
Today, the company employs 425 specialists, from chocolates masters to apprentices. Proprietors Hasso Nauck and Wolf Kropp-Buttner (Nauck’s grandfather was a partner of Hachez’ founder) own all shares of the company and insist on preserving the Hanseatic legacy that characterizes its chocolate, “distinguished and reserved.”
Sold in select confectionery retail shops and quality food shops, Hachez Schokolade insists on offering “class not mass” products for particular consumers. Exports account for 10% of the company’s sales and continue to grow. Seasonal sales represent 30% of all business for the company while bars account for nearly 60% of all items sold.
Most recently, the company introduced its Wild Cocoa Chocolate Bar available in milk and dark chocolate varieties. Hachez Chocolade is the only company in Germany to offer a bar that uses cocoa beans harvested by indigenous peoples in the Amazon.
The company also produces three exclusive bars, which deliver cocoa-intense flavors that satisfy “even the most demanding chocolate connoisseurs”
Its 88% Premier Cru features an 88% cocoa content, but without acidity. The Cocoa Arriba line uses only high-quality cocoa beans from Ecuador. Available in four distinct flavors — orange, strawberry pepper, blackberry and mango chili — the bars deliver a smooth and mild taste, even with a 77% cocoa content.
And milk chocolate lovers can still get their chocolate fix with Hachez Chocolade’s Cocoa de Maracaibo line, which comes in orange-krokant and almond-raspberry varieties and features a 55.5% cocoa content using Venezuelan beans.
Georg Lemke GmbH
& Co. KG
Marzipan supplier to the world
There’s an insider joke among the owners at Georg Lemke GmbH that customers will go through Hell to get premium marzipan. Brothers Jan and Sven Hell, who handle sales/marketing and operations, respectively, appreciate the humor, particularly as members of the third-generation family-owned business (Klühe/Hell); they’re intimately involved in keeping the company’s legacy and business flourishing.
Founded in 1902 by pharmacists Benno Markus and Georg Lemke in Berlin, the Lemke company quickly establxished itself as the capitol city’s first marzipan paste factory. To survive the war years, Lemke GmbH began producing “Silvi” made of pine tree needles and “Eirea” spread produced from rapeseed oil, spices and salt.
In 1945, Otto Klühe became the ceo after working at the company for 10 years. Under his leadership Lemke GmbH returned to producing marzipan again, which eventually catapulted the company back to a leadership position. The company also added products such as apricot kernel paste, nougat, processed almonds and hazelnuts to its repertoire.
By 1968, Lemke GmbH had become one of the largest specialized companies in Europe, prompting it to move into a new building in the Britz area of Berlin. Continued growth saw the construction of a state-of-the-art warehouse and production site in 1995.
Today, under the management of Edit, Jan and Sven Hell, the company has become the second largest producer and supplier of marzipan in Germany, with a 30% market share.
Annual growth during the past several years has exceeded double-digit.
Unlike other marzipan suppliers, Lemke GmbH is the only supplier using a continuous process, which was developed internally. Moreover, the company uses only California almonds as its source for marzipan. Jan Hell cites product quality, consistency and availability as key reasons for their preference for almonds from the Sunshine State.
That commitment reflects a general company philosophy centered on quality and product safety.
Since moving to its new production site, which sits on 18,000 sq. meters of land, the company has worked continuously to expand its certifications. In 1998, it received organic certification. Four years ago, it added kosher certification to its capabilities, followed by IFS certification in 2009. Last year it received approval from Kraft Foods as a supplier.
Although the company believes strongly in using the most sophisticated processing equipment wherever it can to improve efficiency, consistency and quality, it also recognizes the importance of traditional methods to ensure flavor profiles.
For example, the company continues to roast its almonds using a 70-year-old open flame roaster to achieve a “barbecue version” of roasted almonds.
Although Germany accounts for the bulk of the company’s revenues (75%), Europe and Asia continue to grow, with each segment comprising 20% and 5%, respectively.
Despite low interest by American consumers in marzipan products, Jan Hell believes there’s an opportunity for increased consumption, particularly if consumers were educated about marzipan quality.
Naturally, he also would urge them to go through Hell to sample premium marzipan.