1. Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates, Philippines
Having tasted bean-to-bar chocolate while working in the US, founder Philo Chua thought that the same could be achieved with Philippine cacao. For three years, he roamed the country looking for good cacao beans, a task that was harder than expected as most farmers preferred to sell in bulk to overseas buyers. Finally, one farmer agreed to sell him two sacks of beans, and today, the company has a steady source from a farming community based in Malabog, Davao. Chua unexpectedly found quick success when he released the Milk Chocolate Adobo, a chocolate bar infused with soy sauce, toffee and black pepper – the first time that the Philippines’ national dish was epitomised in chocolate form.
2. Kad Kokoa, Thailand
Married couple Paniti and Nuttaya Junhasavasdikul grow their own cocoa beans in the mountains of Mae Taeng, an hour from Chiang Mai, as well as source from small-lot growers across the country – creating a kind of north-to-south tour of Thailand through their single-origin bars. Kad Kokoa’s award-winning signature 70% Single Origin Chiang Mai Dark Chocolate has floral notes with a hint of honey and banana. A new variant incorporates shiso seeds grown in Mae Taeng. Working with sake purveyors such as Jua Izakaya and Sake Centra, the duo also organises tasting sessions that pair their signature chocolates with craft sake, shochu and umeshu.
3. Chocolate Concierge, Malaysia
Ning-Geng Ong’s chocolates are love letters to Malaysia. Ong scours Pahang state for quality cacao beans to make single-origin bars as well as bonbons with unique fillings such as onde onde (grated coconut rice balls filled with liquid palm sugar) and teh tarik (milk tea). This year’s new favourites are the Durian Bomb and the Blushing Geisha Raspberry Wasabi.
4. Krakakoa, Indonesia
This social enterprise works with farmers in cacao-growing regions to develop organic techniques and fermentation methods. The 70% Single Origin Sedayu, using beans from the foothills of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, is imbued with flavours of the forest, while the 75% Single Origin Saludengen uses cacao from a village in West Sulawesi.
This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine