Over the last few months I have been doing extensive research for a book about dark chocolate. Prior to this project I would have considered Swiss or Belgian made as the world’s best. However, I now appreciate that there are several other geographic regions that are producing amazing products. There is also a prestigious global award ceremony (International Chocolate Awards) that honours their talents. One of the techniques that seems very popular with the judges is called ‘Bean to Bar’. Normally this involves roasting and grinding beans then adding raw cane sugar (or another organic natural sweetener). Certainly this movement is big in the United States as you would expect. However, within Asia there are numerous companies that are yielding some really exciting results. Here are four micro craft brands that I would highly recommend.
Fu Wan Chocolate
Fu Wan Chocolate is a small artisan brand based in the location of Tungkang, Taiwan. The business was established by trained chef Warren Hsu who is committed to handcrafting a superb range of ‘Bean to Bar’ products. Over the last few years the company has won numerous awards and works closely with local farmers. I have tasted several of their delicious chocolates and found the taste very refined. As well as enjoying more conventional flavours, I also experienced an experimental variety which contains shrimp, Pomodori (sun dried tomato), paprika, cayenne pepper, and maple sugar.
Earth Loaf is a gourmet chocolate manufacturer located in Karnataka, India. All their exquisite bars are handcrafted in very small batches to achieve a premium quality. The company is the brainchild of David Belo and Angelika Anangnostou who both share a passion for nutritious food. That is why exciting ingredients like chili, ginger, coffee, mango are combined with the finest Cacao beans. Certainly this is a unique chocolate with an intense and robust flavor.
Theo & Philo
Theo and Philo is a craft chocolate producer located in the Philippines. Unlike many of their European counterparts they use locally grown Cacao beans in their bars. Each of their products is manufactured in micro batches, which ensures optimum levels of freshness. Within the range there are some very unusual and tantalizing flavours. Some of my personal favourites are Green Mango & Salt, Calamansi (Philippine Lemon) and the Moorish Black Sesame and Nuts.
Cacaoken is an exclusive ‘Bean to Bar’ chocolate brand located in Iizuka, Fukuoka, Japan. The business was founded by passionate foodie Yukari Nakano in February 2013. All of the products are meticulously handcrafted using the finest cacao beans (sourced from around the world) in a small production facility. Even though the chocolates bars are small in size they deliver on the flavour front. Ultimately this is why the company has received many awards in the short time it has been operating.