Dominic Maloney and his two younger brothers Nicholas and Daniel Maloney, who are originally from Trinidad, founded Sol Cacao. They told ConfectioneryNews they grew up drinking cocoa tea and developed an appreciation for farming and agriculture.
However, giving back to their homeland through Maloney’s chocolate business is challenging since there is a higher shipping fee associated with importing cocoa beans from Trinidad into the US compared to other cocoa-sourcing regions in the world.
“Bean-to-bar chocolate will continue to grow, but the industry is 10 years behind craft beer and coffee in my opinion.” -- Dominic Maloney
“In the last 100 years, the annual cocoa production in Trinidad went from 33,000 tons to around 500 tons. There is a major decline because oil and gas are now playing a major GDP contributor role in Trinidad today,” Dominic Maloney said.
Sol Cacao currently manufactures three 70% dark chocolate bars using Fairtrade-certified beans from Ecuador, Peru and Madagascar.
“Only 5% of global cocoa supply comes from these three regions, and they deliver more complex flavor profiles. That’s why we don’t need to add vanilla and milk to boost their taste.” Maloney pointed out.
“We also pay easily over $5,000 per ton [for these premium beans]. On the commodity side (cocoa beans growing in West Africa), it usually costs between $2,000 and $3,000 [per ton].”
Tasting room in the works
Sol Cacao is currently building a tasting room to expand presence in its new USDA-certified production facility in New York City.
At the facility, Sol Cacao grinds and roasts cocoa beans before removing their husk and shell to make cocoa nibs. Maloney said it would take the team four to five days to finalize the chocolate bar production.
The 900-square-foot sampling space, which is set to open next month, will allow visitors to try products on-site, as well as purchase chocolate made in the factory, Maloney said.
“Bean-to-bar chocolate will continue to grow, but the industry is 10 years behind craft beer and coffee in my opinion,” he said. “With our new Whole Foods distribution, I would say we can generate $150,000 in revenue by the end of this year with a double-digit growth rate.”
Sol Cacao is currently available at certain specialty food stores in US coastal cities in addition to Whole Foods, and it is planning to explore a new cocoa region, potentially Venezuela, for its next variety.