How Sheffield food businesses teamed up create the country's first “bean to bar” chocolate ice cream – inspired by America

“I say it was a case of trial and error, but really there was no error, because we ate everything we made!” So said Max Scotford of Sheffield artisan chocolate brand Bullion, reliving how he, Matt Cottrill and Nick Pears of city coffee house Steam Yard made the UK’s first bean to bar chocolate ice cream.

By Ellen Beardmore
Monday, 13 May, 2019, 16:12
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They tested many different varieties to create the new Yarders ice cream before the winning combination was revealed as single origin beans from Ecuador, which have recently been certified organic.

The end result is a dense, fudge-like and intense flavour, made extra creamy as the other ingredient is cream from the Peak District Dairy, a world away from most saccharine sweet vanilla options.  

The decadent chocolate milkshake

It’s been whipped up into five new menu items now available at Steam Yard, from a decadent shake to the “lawless” pecan cookie sandwich.

Matt and Nick – the first cafe owners to stock bean-to-bar chocolate in Sheffield - came up with the idea after seeing how many ice cream options there were in America. And the aim is to continue showcasing how chocolate, just like coffee, can have different nuances depending on its origin, and be much more than a quick sugar fix.

Max said: “There are about 15-25 bean to bar chocolate makers in the UK. In America there’s hundreds, it is a real movement there. The same thing has happened with craft beer and coffee so it’s great to see chocolate having the same moment in the UK now.

“Yarders is like the reverse of what most ice creams are, there’s proper high quality chocolate in there, high fat content from the cream. If you are going to do an ice cream it should be an indulgent treat, there’s no cutting corners.”

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The ice cream is now on sale at Steam Yard and Bullion

Matt said being able to trace where the ingredients came from was important.

He added: “We didn’t just want to come back and do something with ice cream, we wanted to do something people had never had before. They might have had a version of it, but this is the best version of it.”

The “bean-to-cone” production, as they now call it, also involves another local business, as Yee Kwan’s HQ is where it is made. 

Max added: “We did a 70 per cent chocolate version first but it wasn’t strong enough. We wanted a real depth of flavour coming through, and ended up with the 100 per cent version. In future we could do different origins – just like with coffee, it’s showing people a different type of chocolate.  It’s not cheap ice cream that’s been mass produced, it is handmade in Sheffield.”  

Buy Yarders at Bullion, in Cutlery Works, Kelham Island, and at Steam Yard, off Devonshire Street, from £3.50.