There is something so special about good chocolate and no doubt you are tucking into some this Easter weekend. The smell of the chocolate as you unwrap it. The crack as you bite into it. The velvety coating as it melts in your mouth. It is no wonder there are so many chocolate lovers in this world.

In Ireland, we are fortunate to have a reputation for good chocolatiers and a plethora of ranges that, at times, definitely make you feel like you are in Wonka’s world.

One that has carved out a successful business in the past 10 years is Bean & Goose. Founded by sisters Natalie and Karen Keane, they always set out to be distinctive, creative, and unwavering in their sustainability efforts.

“We started with just Karen and I in her kitchen,” says Natalie. “Bit by bit, we grew the business and moved to our first location in Enniscorthy.

“Then, three years ago, we moved to our current location in Gorey. That’s been a game changer for the brand. It’s about 3,500 square foot and this meant that we could add the machinery and people we needed to scale up.

“However, we’ve always scaled the business gently and slowly because sustainability is at the core of what we do. If we can’t scale the business in a sustainable way, then we don’t jump up to the next stage. We have always made sure that that is not compromised. We have to be able to stand over that and the quality that comes with it.”

Some of the tasty selection from Bean & Goose. \ Philip Doyle

Taste Wexford

Bean & Goose are members of Taste Wexford, the food network for producers in the county and links to the local landscape can be seen in their products and branding.

“It has always been really important to us to bring an element of nature and Wexford into our chocolate,” says Natalie. “When we were learning how to make chocolate – we were taught by Benoit Lorge from Lorge Chocolatier in Kenmare, Co Kerry – it took us about a year in Karen’s kitchen trying to get really good at our craft.

“During that time, we were thinking about what we wanted to do. For us, it couldn’t be just another chocolate brand, it had to be something different and bring something special to the table. For us, that meant a link to Ireland and Wexford through the chocolate and art.

“When the cacao beans arrive in Ireland from Ecuador, that’s when we start layering the Irish story. We do that through ingredients and we work with great Irish producers such as Oriel Sea Salt in Co Louth and Highbank Orchards in Co Kilkenny.”

Creative chocolate

Telling the story of their chocolate with Irish ingredients is the first layer, but it is with the help of illustration and the form of the chocolate that it really starts to take shape.

“We always tell an Irish story through our flavours and tie this in through illustration,” says Karen. “Every product is created by different Irish illustrators. We give a few of them a brief and they come back with their own version. It’s an exciting part of what we do.

“The other way we tell the story is through form. That’s something we’ve been able to build on over the last 10 years and makes our chocolate unique. Every mould we use is something that we’ve created with a designer. They’re all based on the concept of the Irish landscape.”

Natalie continues, “For example, our 70g bar has the topography of Last Tree Farm, which is Karen’s home. That tells the story of the beginning of Bean & Goose.

“The form for our seascape mould, which took about two years to develop, is the swell and the depth of the waves of the sea. The flavour comes from the sea and there’s a QR code on the pack that will bring the customer to the sound of the Irish Sea. It’s a completely immersive experience – you taste it, you see it, and you hear it.”

“This Easter, we launched our sharing snaps in a beautiful mould that depicts the rivers and estuaries of Ireland. We’ve also created a limited edition hot cross bun flavour with Wildflower Bakery in Cork. They made the hot cross buns for us, which we dehydrate, toast and crumb to create a crunchy texture to add to our creamy milk chocolate.”

Their brother Alex also works in the company. \ Philip Doyle


The worldwide chocolate industry does not always tell a positive story however. The farming of cacao beans has in some cases, been linked with corruption and slavery. In the past decade especially, there has been a wave of chocolatiers who are sourcing directly from farmers to shorten the supply chain and ensure a safer and more ethical production of their product.

“What Bean & Goose is and what we have done since day one is source, in our opinion, the most beautiful and sustainable single origin chocolate in the world,” Karen says. “Ours happens to come from Ecuador. We have a direct relationship with the farmers who grow the cacao beans, which is really important to us.”

“More people are talking about sustainable chocolate and opening their eyes to the damage being done by the big chocolate industry. However, many are still unaware that some brands that they support are doing untold damage to the environment, to the people, you know, in these countries, it’s unsustainable.

“We can’t continue to consume chocolate that way. The more conversations we have about that, the better,” she says.

Some of the tasty selection from Bean & Goose. \ Philip Doyle


Bean & Goose can be bought online ( but you won’t find it in supermarkets. “The cost of our ingredients and packaging really doesn’t allow us to create a product that would that would fit at the price point to be in supermarkets,” says Natalie. “There are ways that we could bring our costs down, but that would mean compromising our ethos, supply chains and quality and we are just not willing to do that. That was never the path for us.

“Supermarkets are not the only way to get chocolate to the customer though. You can come up with creative ways, such as building an online store, which we did. We have also created the tasting club, which is based on a subscription model. So, we’ve not taken the traditional route to market on purpose. Those routes don’t suit our brand anyway.”

Bean & Goose is run by sisters Natalie and Karen Keane. \ Philip Doyle

The future

Celebrating the 10-year milestone in business is a big deal for any company. With so much achieved in the first decade, what’s on the agenda for Bean & Goose in the future?

“There’s so much we’d love to do, it’s ridiculous,” says Natalie. “Our immediate next step is to open up our unit which will host workshops and events for teaching and learning.

“We’ll also have a pop-up hot chocolate café, with a range of flavours as well as chocolate granolas, s’mores and porridge in the winter. We want to make the workshop a destination.”

“We’ve also got the tasting club. Essentially, every month we come up with a new flavour. Since we’ve started it, I’d say we’ve come up with over 100 flavours.

“This year, we are going to be doing a lot of collaborations with chefs, bakeries and other producers to create some really interesting bars. To take part, people subscribe through our website and receive the new bar each month to their door.

In brief

•The EU is the world’s largest producer and consumer of chocolate.

•In Ireland, revenue in chocolate confectionery amounts to over €200m annually, and our per capita consumption stands at 3.6kg. (

•At Bean & Goose, sustainability is at the core of their company, from the sourcing of ‘bean to bar’ raw materials to the Irish suppliers they work with and packaging used.

•Their chocolate tells a story through the Irish ingredients and flavours, the form it takes and illustrations used.

Read more

Celebrating excellence in Irish food and drink

How fast is your fashion?