The term ‘single-origin’ is a buzzword in the cocoa industry, yet its true value is perhaps more significant in marketing than production quality. After all, to assume that fine chocolate is achieved simply by sourcing cocoa beans from one location is to overlook the importance of each step in the overall process.
Challenging this notion, in 2019, Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam set out on a journey to see just how far a more holistic approach could take us. We sought to optimize every aspect of production: properly fermenting cocoa beans in Acacia wooden boxes; slowly roasting at low temperatures to preserve natural notes; and, conching up to 48 hours to evoke a rich flavour. Above all else, our goal was to reimagine a fragmented supply chain that we deemed detrimental to quality by completing the entire process in less than 60 days.
I have always strongly believed that we were making the best chocolate in the world because in Vietnam we have the rare opportunity to grow cacao and make chocolate from freshly harvested beans,” -- Gricha Safarian, Managing Director of Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam
This was, of course, an ambitious objective when taking into account that the industry standard is well over one year from harvest to packaging. Yet in our eyes, the current practice that sees cocoa beans pinball around the world for each production phase is a system of the past.
It comes at the expense of quality control and traceability (not to mention sustainability), as beans are dried under unknown circumstances by farmers and then transported from one continent to another to be inspected and stored for extended periods by traders, grinders, and chocolate makers. All the while, oxidation is degrading the final flavour.
Through a carefully conducted symphony requiring the utmost precision at every stage of production, Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam is proud to share that we achieved our objective, and the result is a chocolate far exceeding expectations.
In our Chocolante 60DAYS Vietnam Dark 74%, new and more complex flavours have emerged that were unattainable in the ‘traditional’ supply chain. When compared to a chocolate produced over one year under otherwise identical conditions, a chocolate expert panel noted that the Chocolante 60DAYS Vietnam Dark 74% exhibited a ‘huge boost in fruity notes’ and the presence of new flavours that are unique to the terroir, including mango, banana, and passion fruit, being very characteristic.
A sensory report from the panel further elaborates, describing the Chocolante 60DAYS Vietnam Dark 74% as “intense in cocoa, with slightly roasted notes. Its dominant fruitiness makes it unique. Citrusy, green, and fresh floral notes bring a powerful freshness. Notes of brown fruits, such as raisins, make its fruitiness even more complex.”
These findings are indeed supported by a gas chromatography report comparing the two chocolates. In it, the panel’s findings are substantiated by flavour moleicules analysis, with the 60DAYS Chocolate proving to have a far more robust profile and a wider range of flavours, thus confirming the impact of an expedited supply chain.
"I have always strongly believed that we were making the best chocolate in the world because in Vietnam we have the rare opportunity to grow cacao and make chocolate from freshly harvested beans,” said Gricha Safarian, Managing Director of Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam.
“After years of honing, 60DAYS finally proves it. I love how this unique chocolate reveals the distinctive fruity notes of the Vietnam cacao bean. What is groundbreaking is that with the same beans and the same recipe, the flavours of 60DAYS are expressed much richer and stronger than a conventional chocolate. This opens a new way in how we make distinctive chocolate.”
Of course, infrastructure played a key role in accomplishing these results. With a fermentation plant and roasting facility mere steps away from each other, and a chocolate factory located 120 kilometers away, Puratos Grand-Place Vietnam was strategically positioned to coordinate a seamless flow of logistics throughout production.
Improvement in quality
Due to the dramatic improvement in quality, we believe that this will become the paradigm of the future. With far-ranging implications, a consolidated supply chain such as this can be replicated as a means to add significant value in other cocoa-producing countries around the world. In fact, following the successful results in Vietnam, Puratos is already planning to implement this new model in Mexico.
Undeniably, single-origin is a signifier of fine chocolate, but it paints an incomplete picture. After all, it’s difficult to imagine a world where ‘single-origin grapes’ are the benchmark of fine wine. Like winemaking, chocolate making must be conducted with respect to the intricacies and nuances throughout the entire process if the final product is to be elevated to its full potential.
On 1 April 2021, 60DDAYS was introduced in the Japanese market. “We appreciate that Japanese professionals have really loved our Chocolante Vietnam chocolate since its launch in 2014,” Safarian sai. “And we believe Japanese professionals and chocolate lovers understand how special this 60DDAYS chocolate is, which is why we chose Japan as the first market to launch this finest and freshest chocolate!”
While the release of 60DAYS Chocolate has been extremely limited, the implications are profound. It is not just a new chocolate that we have unveiled, but a new model that has the power to transform the industry as we know it and become the benchmark for quality. We call it: Ultimate Origin.