Photos & Story by Jay Robinson
In China the number nine is an auspicious number. There, when number nine is pronounced, it sounds like the word for “long lasting”. Others look to the number as the greatest degree of change for any number. Regardless, the number nine is special.
Nine years of building a business is more than a celebration at Mercury Chocolates, it’s a testament of the effort to push oneself from being great at something to being the best at something. Nine degrees of change and for Darren Johns has been a life lived and a passion harnessed.
For the last near-decade, many have come to know Darren as the purveyor of fine chocolates and, for some, the finest coffee this side of paradise. Starting from a wee little shop on George Street in Cobourg, he has worked tirelessly to grow the Mercury Chocolates brand. This work has paid off and the reputation of excellence has ballooned and evolved to become a true foodie-destination on our Northumberland landscape.
Born and raised in the Grafton area, the full-time foodie has plied his culinary skills far and wide. Degrees of change; from working in the of northlands of Canada at remote camps to toiling away in depths of the ocean as chef aboard a United States Navy nuclear submarine, too the hills of historic Tuscany touring foodie-addicts into the heart of historic Italia.
Beyond the creative masterpieces marching out the door of his cozy shop at 24 John Street in downtown Port Hope, Darren is a competitive man with a passion for his craft which drives him to new heights of creativity. He has a reputation for cross pollinating his food knowledge to infuse his chocolates with a custom blend of exotic flavours which produce one-of-a-kind tastes.
Concocting the perfect flavours for magical confectionery reveal the shop to be more of a lab than a kitchen. As with the chocolates, Mercury Chocolates take pride in making coffees the “right way”. This includes roasting beans to perfection, heating the water to the exact temperate, and serving it with just the right amount of attitude. All in pursuit of a the best taste, which, naturally, is like no other on our “rural” streets.
The degrees of success are not limited to the kitchen/lab, no, not one bit. In his personal life, his competitive edge is almost as sharp as his wit. His pursuit of speed; be it on a vintage sport bike, 1970’s Yamaha sled, or on Rice Lake abroad his tuned-up power boat, to really know Darren Johns is to know he strives for the best in everything he does.
Nine degrees of change. We all change in varying degrees through our life. But it is how we adjust to the change, how we embrace the change which defines our who we are and the degree of success we achieve.
Congratulations Darren! Here’s to another nine years of Mercury Chocolates.
24 John Street
Port Hope, ON L1A 2Z3