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March 04th, 2015

Top 10 Companies bringing Latin America to the UK

Hugo Lesser is an Anglo-Chilean-Peruvian based in Salta in north west Argentina. He is the founder of Estados, which sells beautiful luxury Argentine handmade leather gifts.


Argentine beef - Pampas Plains

Argentine beef is world-famous for its flavour and texture, and Pampas Plains delivers prime Argentine reared cuts straight to your front door. Malcolm Harris, a descendent of a 19th Century Scottish settler in Argentina, founded the company after returning from several years living in Buenos Aires and finding that he missed the Argentine beef. They also sell a range of other Argentine delicacies, including Patagonian lamb, empanadas, chorizos, wines, and Dulce de Leche.

Venezuelan chocolate – Willie's Cacao  

Adventurous Brit Willie Harcourt-Cooze bought a chocolate farm in Venezuela 20 years ago, and began to slowly master the arts of cocoa growing and chocolate making. Willie ships his cocoa beans back to his factory in Devon, where he produces a range of artisan chocolate products for purists. With complete control from soil to bar, Willie aims for perfection at every stage. The results speak for themselves. Available in Waitrose and Selfridges.

Mexican kitchenware, tiles, and groceries - Casa Mexico 

A one stop shop for all things Mexican, from chocolate, tequila and beer, to home and garden furniture, blankets and mirrors. Not forgetting masks, clothes, tableware, tiles, and pre-Columbian art… the list goes on. Either buy online or visit their shop in Suffolk.

Bolivian luxury children’s Alpaca clothing - Waddler  

Founders Philip and Marina Thompson left London to explore the Andes with their two young children in 2008, visiting northern Argentina, Bolivia and Peru before returning to the UK and setting up Waddler. In partnership with Bolivian fair trade women's knitting collectives, Waddler designs and sells beautifully made baby and children's clothing made from baby alpaca wool, all ethically sourced and manufactured. Philip and Marina return to Bolivia every year to work with the producers to ensure that the manufacture continues to meet their vision and standards. Baby alpaca wool is softer than Cashmere, and very warm - a necessity for Andean life and a welcome luxury during British winters.

Argentine handmade luxury leather goods - Estados  

Established by Hugo Lesser, an Anglo-South American who moved from Yorkshire to Salta in north-west Argentina in 2010, Estados offers a range of beautiful luxury handmade leather wallets, card cases, purses, belts, and satchel handbags in the UK. Argentine leather is among the best in the world for the same reason the beef is, because Argentine cattle are so healthy, and Estados' designs combine traditional, dark leather exteriors with colourful interiors to breathtaking effect. The Royal Opera House amongst others stock them.

Colombian coffee – The Colombian Coffee Company 

Self styled 'coffee artisans' the Colombian Coffee Company focus on 'single origin' (i.e. from just one farm) coffees rather than blends, and through their subscription service deliver a different coffee to you every month depending what is particularly good at the time. They buy directly from farmers to ensure fair treatment, and reinvest profits into charitable projects in Colombia. They call their business model 'beyond fair trade'. They supply information about the grower with the coffee, along with instructions. British Vogue are including them in their Liquid Assets feature in April ‘15.

Mexican speciality ingredients - Cool Chile  

Cool Chile Co. offers a large variety of dried, fresh and powdered chillies along with other Mexican spices and foods (tortillas, beans, mole and salsas) online and at market stalls and shops nationwide. Everything you need for Mexican cooking at home in fact. For chilli enthusiasts in particular, Cool Chile may just be mecca!

Peruvian alpaca wool clothes and home ware - Samantha Holmes  

Samantha Holmes worked for a Cashmere importer before setting up her own alpaca wool clothing and accessories brand in 2003. She works closely with small independent producer groups in Peru to strict fair trade standards, and now employs over five hundred knitters who manufacture her range of women's clothing, throws and accessories. Also available at stockists throughout the UK, and abroad.

Genuine Ecuadorian Panama hats - The Panama Hat Company  

Hands up who thought Panama hats came from Panama? They're actually from Ecuador of course, and are called 'Panama' because the Ecuadorian workers that built the Panama canal wore them. Jenny Froehlich, Ecuadorian by birth, has been living in the UK and importing Panama hats for over 25 years. In 1995 she won the World Vision award for Development Initiative in recognition of her insistence on fair wages and conditions for the Ecuadorian hat weavers. Jenny's Panama Hat Company now supplies many UK shops, however you can buy them directly from the website.

Argentine, Chilean, Brazilian, Uruguayan, and Peruvian speciality wines - SAMWOL  

While some South American wines (in particular those from the larger commercial Argentine and Chilean vineyards) are available in all the major UK supermarket and wine merchant chains, 'boutique' wines from smaller, specialist producers are harder to find. SAMWOL has done the hard work for you, scouring Argentina and Chile, as well as Brazil, Peru and Uruguay, for interesting wines to sell in the UK. From the high altitude wines of Cafayate in northern Argentina (the vines thrive thanks to the contrast in temperature between day and night in the mountains), to the equatorial wines of Vale de Sao Francisco in Brazil, or the southernmost Patagonian vineyard, Bodega NQN, there's something interesting for any occasion. They sell themed mixed cases too, if you're not sure where to start. Wines are accompanied by information about the vineyard, and you can search by grape, country, food or occasion. They also sell a range of South American liqueurs and spirits. Pisco Sour anyone? Or Venezuelan Orange Rum perhaps?


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