Honest Artisan Chocolate has it's home on Wale Street next door to Bean There Coffee Company. What a magical street! We caught up with Michael, one of the founders (who started Honest with Anthony),
to ask him a few questions, coffee related of course!
TheCoffeeMag: With regards to coffee, the aroma and amazing flavours are only released after roasting, so it made sense to us when we went to Lindt to discover that they also roast the cocoa beans (full story in Issue 3, out next week!). You do things differently, using the raw beans, can you tell us why and how that benefits the final chocolate?
Michael: A lot of cacao beans need to be roasted to bring out certain flavours. We use a very high quality cacao bean (Arriba Nacional) that has loads of amazing flavour notes without being roasted. The cacao bean is high in minerals such as Magnesium, Zinc, Calcium and Vitamin C and by not roasting the bean these minerals are retained in the chocolate. A lot of the flavour development in cacao beans happens in the fermentation process, and this is enough for our beans, they don’t need roasting.
Have you been to Ecuador? What made you decide on using those particular cacao beans as opposed to some of the other cacao producing countries? The coffee industry places great importance on the origin of the beans, so it's a very interesting point to this community.
We’ve never been to Ecuador but would love to go. At the moment our finances and busy schedule don’t allow for it.
We get the cacao through the guys at Rawlicious (Soaring Free Superfoods) who have been to the farms in Ecuador. The beans come from very ethically sourced farms where the farmers are paid very good wages. The beans also have Biodynamic certification.
Most of Africa’s cacao is owned by the bigger chocolate companies and for us to try and source a high quality raw cacao bean at the moment is very difficult due to lack of funds and the time to travel and meet with farmers.
We do have a long term goal of eventually producing an amazing handmade chocolate bar from African cacao beans.
Can you explain 'ethically sourced' a bit more please? In coffee Fair Trade is the buzz.
We source directly from the family owned co-op that works with all the local farmers to continue sustainable and organic farming practices. There are no agent (middle man) margins so there is less incentive to drive down source prices. We feel it’s better to take the profit margin back down the supply chain rather, back to the producer, than pay a fee to an organization. The farm we get the cacao from has many educational and development programs set up dealing with helping out the local community in a very real and hands on way. However FairTrade does serve a good purpose for larger companies who deal with agents.
A single espresso shot (25-30ml) uses around 8g of coffee, what is the ratio of cacao beans to a final slab of Honest chocolate.
Approximately 45 beans in a 60g slab.
Forgive my ignorance with this one, but does the 72%/88% refer to cocoa mass and do you extract the cacao butter in any part of your process?
Our chocolate slabs contain only the cacao bean and Agave as a sweetener. There is no milk powder, emulsifiers or preservatives. The amount of cacao bean in the slab is proportional to how ‘dark’ the slab is. So our 72% bar means that 72% or the slab is cacao bean. A lot of chocolates you find on the shelves today only contain around 40 – 50%. In our minds it kind of stops being chocolate if less than 50% of the bar is cacao bean. We also do an 88% bar, ‘Don’t be afraid of the dark’. We do add a small amount of cacao butter to the bars to help with the ‘tempering’ of the chocolate and to give it a smoother feel.
Finally, do you gentlemen drink coffee? If so, which of your chocolates would you pair with it? (Yum.)
Yes, we most definitely drink coffee. We actually do a 72% chocolate slab with cracked coffee beans on the back. For us the darker the chocolate that you have with a cup of coffee the better. Our 88% bar goes amazingly with a pure black coffee.
Our advice, go visit immediately!