World Chocolate Day: How are farm to bar dark chocolates made using organic cocoa beans and where to find them
Chocolate Day 2019: When we buy our favourite chocolate off the shelf, how many times do we give its ingredients a thought? Or how was it made?Updated: Jul 07, 2019, 10:42 IST
A few years ago, an advertisement on television showed how some of the best cocoa beans sourced from Ghana made it into the making of a specific brand of chocolate, ‘earned’ and relished around the world. I still find myself feeling bad for the bean that cried buckets because he was excluded. Come to think of it, when we buy our favourite chocolate off the shelf, how many times do we give its ingredients a thought? Or how was it made?
For those who had little idea, chocolates are made from cacao beans or seeds, from the Theobroma cacao tree. The plant produces large, pod-like fruits, each containing 20–60 beans surrounded by a sticky, sweet-tart white pulp. Once cacao beans are harvested, they undergo several processing steps starting with fermentation, drying, roasting and grinding. The grinding process produces a non-alcoholic liquor, which is then mixed with other ingredients like cocoa butter, milk, sugar and other flavours such as vanilla, orange, peppermint, and/or dried fruit preserves.
While the process of making and marketing chocolate has been known to be an organised industry so far, there are also a few bean-to-bar chocolatiers who are working towards growing their cocoa bean produce and directly sourcing them to make organic chocolates. Mason & Co, based in Auroville, Pondicherry, India is one such brand. The brand was started by Jane, a trained chocolate maker and a raw food chef, and Fabien, a sound engineer.
Aside from chocolates, Mason & Co also markets cacao powder, peanut butter and more recently, chocolate spread. A short time ago, I also enjoyed the real-ness of Alpino’s peanut butter because of the low sugar content which will give you the actual taste of a peanut spread meeting your taste buds.
The chocolates come in flavours like the original intense dark chocolate, zesty orange, sea salt, black sesame & raisin, chilli & cinnamon to name a few. Ask a chocolate lover which chocolate is their favourite or if they prefer one kind or one flavour over another, and there will never be a single answer to that probable web of confusion.
While mulling over how to talk about my love for chocolates, I bought most of Mason & Co’s dark chocolates and found it mighty difficult to zero in on the ‘one’ that I would always want to have in my fridge. It’s definitely not that there’s been a dearth of options to choose from and treat my tastebuds to good chocolate, since nearly every brand (Lindt still being one of the brands to return to) you find in Nature’s Basket or Food Hall is worth a try atleast once in your life. So what was different about these chocolates? They seemed true to their brand proposition. To see if I was tasting something entirely different, probably in a long time, I took a bite out of a regular milk chocolate which also sat in my refrigerator that evening. And boy, was it an entirely different experience or what!
The most heartwarming reason to try Mason & Co is probably how they’re educating and promoting the farmers with whom they work and get their raw material from. It also helps that the products are organic and vegan. Like vegan meat, which is finding some resonance with non-vegetarians turned vegetarians or vegans due to humanitarian causes, desserts and in this case, chocolates, too, might be like the cherry on top.