Tuesday night saw the launch of Cacao Barry’s new line of chocolates, at the swanky Bulgari hotel in central London. Luckily for you, the reader, I was invited along by Jellybean Creative solutions to see the launch.
The event was held in the intimate surroundings of the Bulgari’s cinema, where after a couple of short talks & films, we were invited to try the product. ‘The Purity from Nature’ range, as it is being marketed consists of two couvertures and a milk chocolate option, with defined applications in mind. So if you’re the type of chef that uses Callebaut’s 811 dark chocolate for everything, then this probably isn’t for you. In fact this is very much a niche product and is currently only available from plantations in the Ivory Coast.
At this level chocolatiers are something akin to sommeliers, with preferences over regions & terroirs for the products they use. What Cacao Barry have developed, they claim, is
….a consistent, purer, more intense taste.
By utilising a revolutionary new process called Q-fermentation. The final product is zero defect beans with no off-aromas and a superior taste.
The three different products being launched were:
- Inaya: Intense dark chocolate at minimum of 65% cocoa content. Designed for use in ganaches, mousses, moelleux and chocolate drinks.
- Ocao: A 70% dark chocolate, which is better suited to thin moulding & enrobing.
- Alunga: This is a 41% milk chocolate couverture aimed more at applications such as ganaches & mousses.
The Cacao Barry representatives were very keep to promote this new process, Q-fermentation, which has taken the company seven years to develop. It is essentially an ancient technique which has been used to make beer, bread, cheese and wine. But for some reason applying it to chocolate has always been difficult. It uses a yet to be patented product designed by Cacao Barry & the natural bacteria on the banana leaves.
Cacao Barry will also launched an online hub concerning all things chocolate, and it is using the hashtag #CacaoConnection to promote this pre-launch. Currently there is only the youtube video from Tuesday, which was filmed at The Dorchester online, but I’m sure there is more to come.
Whilst the chocolates maybe subjective (with many chefs I know preferring the middle of the range Inaya, to the one we were told was better). The one point which did catch my interest in post presentation discussions with representatives from the company, was the somewhat uphill struggle they potentially face. In a nutshell, it is easier for Ivory Coast farmers to plant palms for oil, it’s low maintenance & high demand from the West. Where as, Cacao is more labour intensive, Cacao Barry have set up systems to help the farmers & their families; investing in the long term future of this project. In a world where big business has a reputation for crushing the little guy, this strategy is long term & for the benefit of everybody: The farmer; The company; The chef and ultimately, the customer, and it is to be applauded.
What I would offer to Cacao Barry is this. If they plan to go head to head with what appears to be their main competitor in Valrhona, they need to have a ‘name’ as a brand ambassador. Valrhona have Benoit Blin, the long serving pastry chef at Le Manoir aux Quat Saison. Cacao Barry need to get somebody with a high profile, if they’re to convert chefs to this niche product. Dare I say it, either Claire Clarke or William Curley?
Many thanks to Nick and the team at Jellybean creative solutions for the invitation, & various people at Cacao Barry who made time to speak to me. I’d like to wish them all the best for the future with their new product and endeavours.