The Chocolate Cult: Learn about Brockmann's Chocolate Family Business

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Learn about Brockmann's Chocolate Family Business

Father and Daughter, Norbert & Kathrin
Today I want to introduce you all to Kathrin Brockmann of Brockmann's Chocolate. We're going to learn about the history of the company and her role in it. On Saturday, we're see some of their products in honor of Canada Day.

Kathrin, your family has a history in the candy and chocolate business that goes back to Germany. Would you share a bit of your family's confectionary shop back in Munich?

My grandfather, Willibald Brockmann, was a master confectioner and started a small shop in Munich in 1934 with a business partner.  When he met and married my grandmother, Elizabeth Wimmer, they decided to branch out on their own – they opened up Conditorei CafĂ© Brockmann in 1938.   They crafted all the cakes, pastries, chocolates and specialty confections by hand; the start of the Brockmann family recipe portfolio.  As the Brockmann reputation for quality grew, customers would travel from across Munich to purchase their sweets and soon enough they outgrew their space.

Like father, like son.  My father, Norbert Brockmann, also became a master confectioner and the family tradition continued. Eventually my mother, Marianne Brockmann, joined the business family and contributed her operational talents.

Why did your parents decide to move to Canada and continue in the chocolate biz?

My father, Norbert, visited Vancouver in the 1970s with his father and fell in love with the beautiful city and was determined that one day he would move to Canada.  It wasn’t until he married my mother, Marianne, who always knew how to make things happen, that this dream became reality.  The passion for good food naturally followed them to Canada.

Norbert Learns Family Business, 1961
You are a third generation chocolatier. Would you say this is a career of personal passion or one that fulfills a familiar expectation? Or both?

When you grow up in a business family, passion and expectations are intertwined and the two reinforce each other.  I was never told it was expected – I never felt any pressure from my parents that this path was pre-determined. This was largely because my father was pressured by his father with expectations to take over the business, and my father did not want his daughters to feel the same burden. However, when there was no babysitter available, my mother brought me to work.  When we had family dinners, we talked about the business and its success and challenges.  When I needed a summer job, I worked in packing or in customer service. When we ate food, whether chocolate or otherwise, we talked about the flavours and how they interacted with each other.  When we walked through grocery stores, we always stopped in the chocolate aisle to review what was new.  It is a question of nature vs nurture.

The Chocolate Cult is written in the USA and therefore many of the companies and brands we test and write about are also from the USA but we've connected with a few Canadian companies like Brockmann's Chocolate as well over the years. We are well versed in the laws regarding chocolate of all forms for US makers but would you be willing to reveal to us what the definitions of white, milk, and dark chocolate is in Canada?

The definitions of white, milk, and dark chocolate are clearly laid out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations. In Canada the definitions of white, milk, and dark chocolate are mainly based on the percent of total cocoa solids (for example dark chocolate is no less than 35%, milk chocolate is no less than 25%), percent of total milk solids (dark can have no more than 5% total milk solids, while white chocolate is no less than 14% total milk solids). There are other factors that determine the classification of dark, milk, and white chocolate such as spices, whey or whey products, flavoring preparations, and more. Our Canadian Food and Drug Regulations are clear and detailed when it comes to classifying whether your product is dark, milk, or white chocolate. 

Your products are sold throughout Western Canada. Do you also have connections to retailers in the Western USA?

We are currently not available in retailers in Western USA – yet! Making sure everyone has access to great chocolate is something we are working towards, so keep your eyes open, and stay informed through our website, and social media channels to be the first to know when we are. 

We recently hired a very connected social media industry personality of sorts as our Director of Sales and Marketing to make sales in the USA a reality. Sam Macdonald is the founder of LinkedIn’s Candy, Snacks & Bakery Supergroup. He is working with national and regional brokers and distributors to bring Crunchetti and Truffini to American retailers.

Our new Truffini flavor, Pumpkin Spice, will be available in Costco’s Chocolates of the World Jar this year for the holidays. 

You do ship to folks in the USA but what are some of the challenges to selling across political borders of which most consumers may not be aware?

The US and Canadian border stretches 8,891 km with 119 border crossings and more than $1 billion CDN is traded daily.  Goods move easily across the borders with the right customs paperwork.  Brockmann’s deals with this on a regular basis and can help any customer with these requirements. 

Brockmann's Chocolate Truffini
Let's get back to chocolate. Of the general types of chocolate -- white, milk, semi-sweet, and dark -- which is your personal favorite?

How do you pick your favourite child?! I personally prefer semi-sweet or dark chocolate since I love the taste of chocolate or rather the taste of cocoa.  However, I also love the creaminess and smoothness of white and milk chocolate. I don’t think I can answer this question!

Which type of chocolate is the most difficult to create with?

There is no particular difficult chocolate to work with – it’s all about meeting customer expectations and balancing flavours.  When we develop new products, we do extensive tasting panels to make sure we get every recipe right.  If we feel we are not hitting requirements, we will start over.  We believe that taste and quality is the most important aspect of product development. This means careful selection of our ingredients so that we are starting with a strong foundation. It’s a simple philosophy: if the input ingredients are good, the end product will also be delicious. 

Brockmann's website listed types of treats that you sell online -- the Crunchetti that we'll be featuring soon on this blog and the Truffini. What is the difference between the two products?

Our Crunchetti and Truffini brands are created to cater to all the different reasons people eat chocolate. Truffini truffles are our luxuriously smooth and creamy truffles perfect for indulging on your own, sharing, or gift giving in our Gable Top boxes and an Assorted Box (coming soon). Crunchetti is our newest cluster creation. They are bite sized chocolate clusters made in small batches with fine-quality chocolate and available in a number of different flavors including toasted almonds, cranberries, wild blueberries with ancient grains, and we’ve only just begun! Crunchetti is perfect for indulgent snacking and sharing. 

While both are lines are different from each other, both are made with our premium chocolate and the freshest, natural ingredients available. One thing you can always count on when you pick up a Brockmann’s Chocolate product is quality chocolate and flavors! 

Do you offer other products at a brick and mortar location? If so, what are they and were can our readers find you if they live in Canada or are visiting?

At our Factory Outlet store in Delta, BC we offer our Truffini and Crunchetti in all flavours and packaging as well as seasonal gift baskets and products (chocolate Santa’s, bunnies, and more). Our brands are available at most major Food and Drug stores in Western Canada and soon to be in Central and Eastern Canada as well. 

Finally, is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers about Brockmann's Chocolates?

With over 80 years of confectionary experience, we know chocolate. We’ve created dozens of delicious and unique flavor combinations for Truffini and Crunchetti, as well as our many Private Label customers. Our expertise and love of a challenge is what sets Brockmann’s Chocolates apart and why we’re sure anyone who tries our creations won’t be able to stop at one! 

Brockmann's 1960
I know we have a lot of readers in Canada so I want to read your comments. Have you tried Brockmann's Chocolate? What did you think? If you haven't are you going to go check them out now?

If any of you have questions for Kathrin, please leave a comment and ask. Maybe you'll answer in a comment, too.

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