The world of chocolate is polarising. What we’ve grown up with are the global corporations with massive industrial production and cocoa plantations ownership. Yet, bar craft entrepreneurs with glocal power are leading a new way of doing bonbon business.
Sublime highly recommends three pioneering ‘chocoactivist’ brands that are changing the way we perceive and consume chocolate around the world.
A Welsh company that has been producing stoneground, single-origin, unroasted, bean-to-bar chocolate for over ten years, Forever Cacao uses only ethically sourced Peruvian Asháninka Cacao.
The company has established a sustainable direct supply chain with communities deep in the rainforest. The chocolate is minimally processed from all-natural ingredients: some bars are made from only three ingredients, and are certified organic. This award-winning chocolate is free from all the major allergens, including gluten, dairy, soya, nuts and palm oil. It has always been vegan and contains no refined sugar – coconut sugar is used as a sweetener instead. All bars are handmade and wrapped in plastic-free packaging.
Using only pure cacao, the brand have found themselves at the forefront of the recent surge in the use of chocolate for cacao ceremonies which are sweeping the world. Ceremonial-grade cacao is made from wild heirloom varieties grown from ancient rootstock, that are untampered-with by genetic modification and grow in a balanced ecosystem alongside other rainforest plants.
Unlike cacao powder – which is never ceremonial-grade, due to heavy processing – Forever Cacao is produced from the whole bean and retains the naturally occurring fat (cacao butter) which makes for an altogether creamier, more luxurious and nourishing drink. This variety retains its plant medicine status and can enhance all kinds of creative and meditative practices from music production, painting, dancing or simply just being in the present moment. It can also be used as a coffee substitute as it contains theobromine, a gentle alternative to caffeine.
Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolatier based in Reykjavík. Their bars are hand crafted from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. They have developed direct relationships with farmers to create premium chocolate with fine cacao beans, which are are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.
Omnom's process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. Their creative flavours are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. Their moto: ‘If it doesn't please us, if something isn't absolutely delicious, there's no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts.’
The team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where their ingredients come from has led them from around-the-corner dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.
In only a few short years, they have grown from running their production from an ex-petrol station space to become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, their chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.
But at the end of the day, their goal is to make the best quality chocolate.
A food previously regarded as a sweet has matured into a luxury.
Imagine savouring a square of chocolate the same way you might enjoy a fine wine or spirit. Chocolate whose complexity takes you on a journey from its first melt to its long-lasting finish. Chocolate that has been made with care from heirloom cocoa beans that are fermented, roasted and ground to release their full flavour.
Castronovo Chocolate is passionate about preserving heirloom varieties of cocoa that are sustainably grown under rainforest canopies. Many of Castronovo’s cocoa beans are harvested by indigenous people in remote villages, who use their income to protect their culture, their land and their peace. By sourcing the cocoa through direct trade and with transparency, the brand ensures farmers are paid a fair wage for their work.
The turning point for Denise Castronovo, head chocolate maker, was realising that flavour has largely been engineered out of mass-produced chocolate, leaving it flat, expressionless and dull to the taste. Knowing that chocolate has a rich history in Latin America and more flavour notes than wine, Denise started making chocolate in small batches using methods that predate mass production to create some of the finest-tasting chocolate on the market. Castronovo makes single-origin dark and dark milk chocolate, in addition to a few chocolates with flavour infusions such as white chocolate with lemon or mocha.
Established in 2013, Castronovo has already won numerous prestigious awards from the International Chocolate Awards World Finals, The Academy of Chocolate Awards in London and the Good Food Awards in the USA for its fine flavour, direct trade practices and sustainability mission.