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The sweet taste of success 

Chocolates. It’s something we all love. Studies reveal that 93% of the world loves chocolates in some shape or form, and the remaining 7% are liars. Ahead of World Chocolate Day, I caught up with Vikas Temani, Founder and Business Head of Paul and Mike to understand what makes this award-winning indigenous chocolate brand unique, and the secret sauce to their success. 

What inspired you to start Paul and Mike as a chocolate company? 

Paul and Mike was inspired by two Latin American fine cocoa farmers, Paul and Mike. Their passion for cocoa cultivation and fermentation ignited our journey to create exceptional fine-flavor chocolates. Observing a gap in India’s premium chocolate market dominated by imported brands that are often not considered premium in their home countries – we saw an opportunity. Inspired by Sula’s success in the wine industry and Bira’s impact on the craft beer scene, we set out to redefine premium chocolate in India. 

How do you choose your cacao sources? 

We are headquartered in Kochi, Kerala. We grow and ferment cocoa on our own farms in Kochi and Coimbatore and source wet cocoa beans from progressive farmers in Kerala and Andhra. 

How has the chocolate industry changed since you founded Paul and Mike? 

Ever since the founding of Paul and Mike, we have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the chocolate industry towards artisanal & craft chocolate, sustainability, transparency, and quality. Today’s consumers are increasingly conscious of the origin of the cocoa beans, chocolate making process, the quality of ingredients, eco-friendly packaging and carbon footprint. The bean-to-bar and farm-to-bar processes are gaining recognition and new players are emerging in the premium chocolate category.  

Since our inception, we’ve been honoured with awards every year at International competitions like the International Chocolate Awards, Great Taste Awards, and Academy of Chocolate Awards. Our Gin & Ginger Chocolate was ranked amongst the top 10 chocolates in the world at the International Chocolate Awards 2023, putting India on the world chocolate map. 

What makes Indian-origin cacao unique, and how do you highlight it in your chocolates? 

Indian-origin cacao is unique due to its distinct terroir, which imparts unique flavor notes influenced by the local soil, climate, and farming practices. All chocolates are made with only Indian cacao beans which come from our own farm in Kochi & Coimbatore and from progressive farmers in Kerala and Andhra.  

How do you balance traditional chocolate-making techniques with innovation? 

We balance traditional chocolate-making techniques with innovation by adapting craftsmanship involved in creating fine chocolate while experimenting with fermentation protocols and new flavours. 

How do you ensure sustainability in your cacao sourcing and chocolate production? 

Sustainability is at the core of our operations. We ensure sustainability through ethical sourcing, and supporting local farmers with fair wages. We try our best to reduce our carbon footprint at every stage. Here’s how: 

  • Our refrigerants have 99,5% lower Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) compared to the next best alternative. 
  • The manufacturing facility is GOLD LEED certified and adheres to the highest energy efficiency and greenest practices. 
  • Our cocoa farms use high-carbon capture techniques and drip irrigation. 
  • We minimize the usage of plastic in our packaging and use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper coming from Carbon Negative and sustainable supply chain. 

Can you share an interesting story or fact about chocolate that most people might not know? 

There are many myths revolving around chocolate, some of which we are debunking on our website and packaging. For example: 

  1. Couverture Chocolate is high quality chocolate 
  1. Dates sweetened chocolate contains no added sugar 
  1. Dark chocolate is just bitter 

    What advice would you give to aspiring chocolatiers on World Chocolate Day? 

On World Chocolate Day, I advise aspiring chocolatiers to prioritize high-quality cocoa beans, as they form the essence of premium chocolates. Emphasize on ethical sourcing to ensure fair treatment and proper compensation for farmers. Adopt sustainable practices to protect the environment and support the longevity of cocoa farming.  

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