Bean-to-Bar: Artisanal Chocolate Handcrafted in Hong Kong
Though Belgium and Switzerland are usually the places that spring to mind when thinking about where chocolate is made, Hong Kong happens to have a small but nonetheless passionate community of artisanal chocolate makers that have full control of the production process from start to finish and dedicate their time to perfecting consistency, taste and smoothness.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, skip the mass-produced chocolates and head over to these bean-to bar chocolatiers instead for sweet treats filled with complex notes and aromas that will enrich all your senses.
Tucked away in a seven square meter shop at the end of Gough Street is the unassuming yet extremely popular artisanal chocolatier Hakawa. You would hardly believe that a whole manufacturing process could operate from the back of such a small establishment, yet the bean-to-bar shop has been selling small-batch solid and drinking chocolate ever since it opened three years ago.
Much like the name of the shop—a play on the words Hong Kong and kakawa (the ancient Olmec word for cacao)—the two owners consider the chocolate a bit of a crossover between cultures, mixing cacao beans sourced from Sri Lanka, Peru and Ecuador with local ingredients such as goji berries, osmanthus, sichuan peppers, Himalayan salt and more to develop distinctive flavours that you won’t find in commercially-available chocolate bars.
Their most in-demand items are the dark, almond and macadamia chocolate bars as well as the hot chocolate—available with either 74 or 100% chocolate and your preference of whole, soy or nut milk. Don’t miss out on the limited-edition sesame and coconut flavours, made specifically for Chinese New Year.
Hakawa Chocolate, Shop1B, 49-51A Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 6163 3563, facebook.com/HakawaChocolate
A passion for food and the will to push the envelope when it came to creativity is what ignited this Swiss-Israeli couple’s desire to create a chocolate business with flavour innovation as the driving force. After taking a chocolate-making class in Geneva, scouring the globe for the best cocoa beans and experimenting a number of times in their small kitchen in their Sai Ying Pun apartment, the couple created Conspiracy Chocolate.
A bite will take you on a culinary journey that crosses cultural boundaries, as the handcrafted artisanal chocolate uses traditional Swiss chocolate-making techniques, ingredients found around the Mediterranean—such as herbs, chilis and teas—and cacao beans sourced from Vietnam.
Flavours have now expanded to Sichuan peppers and caramel brittle and the couple has upgraded from a small kitchen to a bigger one in Wong Chuk Hang. But one thing that remains unchanged is that focus on quality and flavour and delivering the best of the best to their customers.
Conspiracy Chocolate can be found at Eric Kayser, Sweet World as well as independent cafes around Hong Kong. Find their special Chinese New Year edition made with crunchy raspberries and peppercorn at Sweet World and Eric Kayser in Kennedy Town only.
Chocobien strives to bring the purest form of chocolate from its cacao terroirs in Peru, Ecuador and Madagascar to those who appreciate the multilayered complexity of flavours.
Not only is the chocolatier bringing true chocolate to Hong Kong gastronomes, it is also helping out local farmers and conservationists in Peru to protect one particular family of beans it uses, one that had been thought to be extinct and was just recently rediscovered in the Peru Maranon Valley. That cacao bean is used to make Kusa, a Chocobien product that uses an aging method, another characteristic that makes the chocolate maker stand out.
With the aging medium programme, the desired chocolate takes years to achieve—much like the process of aging whiskey, cheese and meats—but the smooth texture and subtle aromas that appear as a result are well worth the wait.
You can find Chocobien’s chocolate bars online and at pop-ups in shopping centres and private clubs around the city. Don’t miss out on their chocolate workshops to learn more about the bean-to-bar process, and how to best pair chocolate and wine.