The Breakfast of Warriors

Angus Thirlwell gets go-go with cocoa.

Most mornings, believe it or not, I think about Mayan warriors. What brings them to mind is the act of crushing cocoa beans over fried eggs, my usual breakfast. In the 4th Century, Mayan warriors would march all day and then fight a battle, sustained just by a leather pouch of cocoa beans slung around their waist.

Modern research is proving what ancient civilisations already knew: cocoa is a phenomenally healthy superfood worthy of our respect and, in their case, worship.

Like coffee, cocoa is at its most delicious when freshly roasted. Leave it too long and it oxidises, tasting like the bottom of a budgie cage (same with coffee!). But when you taste it freshly roasted… ah, the nutty, savoury cocoa notes are truly tasty and a fabulous ingredient to add to almost anything, even fried eggs.

You can discover all this for yourself when you dine with us at our restaurants in London and Leeds, where we offer a ‘cocoa calibration’ for your taste buds: Three cocoa beans, fresh from our roaster downstairs, to give you a foretaste of our cocoa cuisine menu.

We also have cocoa bean roasters at High Street Kensington, Monmouth Street near Covent Garden, Edinburgh at John Lewis and in Copenhagen. Just ask our resident chocolatier for a cup of freshly roasted beans to take home if you too would like a warriors’ breakfast (fresh nibs are available online too). I can also recommend adding to gravy, casseroles, desserts, avocado, spinach, or just mashed into butter.

Mid-afternoon, I like to savour the lighter side of cocoa – our cocoa infusion drinks. The flavoursome, antioxidant-packed shells from around our roasted beans are steeped in hot water to make a tea-like brew – a gentle pep-up and calorie free. Now available online as well as in our cafes, it’s what we’re all drinking now at HC-HQ. Peppermint & Cocoa Infusion is the most popular but we’re excited about the new Ginger & Cocoa, out soon. Discover the astonishing superfood facts about cocoa at

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To say that Angus Thirlwell is passionate about chocolate would be an understatement because, as he willingly admits, it’s more of an obsession. Together with his business partner, Peter Harris, he founded Hotel Chocolat in 2004 with two specific aims – to make chocolate that really excites the senses and to make that chocolate widely available.

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