TIRED of the huge amounts of sugar in chocolate products, Yatir Linden has created his own chocolate business that values flavour over sweetness.

Mr Linden, 31, who lives in Jericho, Oxford, launched his business, Linden Chocolate Lab, in December last year with his wife, Nitzan.

The couple, who lived in southern Israel for six years before coming to the UK in 2017, first started the business in Israel after Mr Linden felt inspired to create a healthy chocolate.

He said: “I’m a strong advocate for living a healthy lifestyle and I think it’s very important to keep active. I’ve been keeping fit for 20 years now and I do sport five times a week.

“As I got older I took it to the extreme and even did an Iron Man competition in Australia. I then started to gain curiosity about how to make things healthy.”

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The couple have a love for chocolate but were concerned about the high amounts of sugar in most branded products, so they began to look for recipes and healthy substitutes to create a healthy alternative, but struggled to find any.

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Mr Linden, who is a second year Phd student in materials science at the University of Oxford, said: “On the market you’ll find that white and milk chocolate in particular are overly sweet, and you can’t find any that isn’t. The usual amount of sugar in white chocolate tends to be around 40 per cent while there is around 45 per cent sugar in milk chocolate.”

The chocolate that Mr Linden produces with his wife, who is also doing a Phd in social enterprise and management, contains less than half of the average amount. His milk and white chocolate contains 16-18 per cent sugar.

He believes people have become accustomed to sweet things and do not realise that large amounts of sugar is actually not necessary.

He said: “The confectionary industry has packed sugar into everything and it has made us used to it and we don’t realise its effect on us. We can put half of the sugar that they put in and you won’t see the difference. We don’t realise that there’s a balance between sugar and enjoyment.”

After doing some research and reading up about sugar and chocolate, the Phd student, started experimenting with making his own chocolate.

He said he values the raw flavour of chocolate that comes from cocoa and is committed to ensuring that it does not get diluted by sugar.

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He said: “The cocoa flavour comes out more when there is less sugar used. We don’t go above our 18 per cent sugar threshold because we want to ensure the natural flavour is there as well as keeping it healthy.

“We want to enjoy chocolate like the way people enjoy wine. Without compromising on the favour of chocolate we have taken out some of the sugar to reap more of the flavour. No one makes it in the way we make it.”

After trial and error, he decided that a stone grinder would be the best way to produce his chocolate.

This grinds the cocoa mass down in up to four days which he says produces a better-quality product than other equipment such as a food processor.

He said: “Back in Israel we tried out using a stone grinder which made raw chocolate and started to play with it. Then the magic happened - something I never would have imagined happened.”

Through research, Mr Linden managed to teach himself how to make the chocolate that he sells today and now passes on his knowledge to others through tasting sessions and practical chocolate making workshops in Oxford.

He said: “I learnt it all online. I brought myself to my own knowledge – from not knowing and being really confused, to now doing workshops for people.”

After three years selling his homemade chocolate in Israel, the couple moved to the UK two years ago and have since re-launched here.

Mr Linden makes his chocolate at a medium scale production line in Swindon.

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He says he is passionate about what he does and even has cameras set up in his production space so that he can keep an eye on the process from home when he is attending to his other duties and studies.

He tempers and moulds the chocolate before packaging it himself and makes just below 100kg of chocolate each month.

What makes the Linden Chocolate Lab different is the unusual flavours that are used. Just two of the chocolate bars are plain - milk and white chocolate - while the others are infused with flavours such as chilli, cinnamon, coconut, earl grey and chai.

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Their coffee flavoured chocolate is made with coffee beans from Oxford-based coffee shop, The Missing Bean, and Mr Linden said the flavours resonate with the company’s healthy values.

He said: “Everything that we put into the chocolate is natural – there are no artificial flavours or colours.”

The cocoa mass used comes from Columbia but is not sourced by the couple themselves as they rely on distributor, Casa Luker.

They chose the distributor because it matches their values on sustainability by working hard to nurture the relationships they have with their farmers, offering education and training at their research centre, the Granja Luker, to provide farmers with the knowledge to build profitable cocoa farms that will support themselves, their families and their communities.

In the future however, the couple plan to import the cocoa beans directly from farms instead of cocoa mass through Casa Luker.

Another way in which Linden Chocolate Lab tries to operate as an environmentally friendly company, is by using packaging that people can bring back to the store which gets sent off to be recycled.

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Mr Linden said: “We have a long-term vision of sustainability, fair-trade, and transforming to a social enterprise with emphasis on young people who are at risk. We want to contribute back to society and make sure our chocolate is accessible to the majority.”

Not only do the couple sell chocolate bars, but they also sell chocolate spreads.

These include, peanut dark chocolate spread, hazelnut milk chocolate spread and Macadamia white chocolate spread.

The couple sell their chocolatey products at a number of small independent stores in Oxford such as The Missing Bean on Magdalen Road, Wicked Chocolate in the Covered Market and Wild Honey on South Parade.

A London shop in Clapham called Tierra Verde, has also welcomed Mr Linden’s chocolate invention.

All products are available to buy online too and the couple set up a stall at food festivals and markets across the county where people can sample and buy their treats.

You can catch them at East Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market, Bourton-on-the-Water Farmers’ Market and Hive Pop-Up Market at West Hendred.

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Mr Linden says he is one of 40 chocolate makers in the UK and loves to explore the world of chocolate.

He said: “I love making chocolate because, for me, it is the perfect platform to be creative and thus surprise people -and myself - over and over again. The endless variations that you can form in chocolate lures me to delve into it even more.”

For more information go to, lindenchocolatelab.com.