Homegrown Artisanal Chocolate Brands And Journey To Inspire

Who on this planet can say no to chocolate? With a rich and fascinating history, chocolate has been a beloved treat enjoyed by people of all ages. Chocolate is one such source of comfort that nothing can match. No matter what the mood is, chocolate will definitely hit the spot. Over the course of the last few years, there has been a silent but strong wave within the chocolate-making landscape. Some homegrown artisanal chocolate brands like Fantasie Fine Chocolates, Bon Fiction, Colocal, All Things Chocolate, and Anuttama Chocolates have made their way into this competitive market and are making the country proud.

While promoting cacao bean production and indigenous produce, so many homegrown artisanal chocolate-making businesses throughout the country have come to the fore. Not only do they have a unique approach to chocolate making, but they also have the objective of providing more and more employment to the local population. Even though made in small batches, these chocolates are not inferior in quality or flavour when compared to your favourite Swiss, Belgian, or any other international bar. This World Chocolate Day, let us celebrate ‘Vocal For Local’ and explore some flourishing artisanal chocolate brands in India.

Video credits: The Yoga Institute/YouTube

Akhil Grandhi, Founder of Bon Fiction

Indeed, every bar of chocolate reflects true craftsmanship, natural ingredients, and sustainable methods of making. With their aspiration to make chocolate worth global appreciation while building a sustainable business, Bon Fiction makes chocolate with natural ingredients and years of explored experimentation in developing flavours. In a conversation with Slurrp, Bon Fiction’s founder Akhil Grandhi said, "We always bought chocolates abroad when we wanted to gift them to family and friends. So, we set off on making chocolate that would not just taste good but chocolate that every Indian would feel proud to gift their friends and family abroad".

"By making it from tree to bar, we create a higher impact on our local community by raising their incomes and providing employment and training in skill sets that did not exist earlier. When we see and hear from our customers their appreciation and understanding of what we have created, it drives us to create more flavours and motivates us to continue our mission". We want to create more products and flavours for our customers to create an experience—a locally made, global experience", concluded Akhil.

Balasubrahmanya P. S., Founder of Anuttama Artisanal Chocolates

Founded by Balasubrahmanya P S and Swathi Kallegundi, Anuttama Chocolates is a farm-to-bar artisanal chocolate brand from Bettampady in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka. This brand uses the best farm cacao with added notes of jaggery, dates, coconut sugar, etc. With a vision to provide healthier dark chocolates, Anuttama Artisanal Chocolates also aims to support farmers and create employment. Don’t forget to try their "Bella Tharai", made using coconut milk and jaggery.

While sharing his journey with Slurrp, the founder of Anuttama Artisanal Chocolates, Balasubrahmanya P. S., said, "Artisanal chocolates in India are getting evolved. We have an agricultural background, and we also grow cacao. We follow an entire process from harvesting to chocolate making, and we are able to provide the desired quality of chocolate as our chocolates are authentic. India has started growing this kind of chocolate and capturing people who know about chocolate not just for the taste but also because of its ample health benefits. We have Karnataka-origin cacao, and we know the region where cacao has been growing and where the taste is coming from. Our chocolate has the notes of the region, like coconut, banana, Areca nut, etc.," he added.

Talking about how they began, Balasubrahmanya said that they started making chocolate during the pandemic. Because of their agricultural background, they have known cacao for decades. "I and my wife started making home chocolates and simply started putting them on social media. We got food feedback and appreciation, and this was when our journey actually began". To make the chocolates unique, we used jaggery sweeteners and natural ingredients. We studied, we learned, and now we even send some of our chocolates for international awards. Recently, one of our chocolates won a bronze medal in 2022," expresses Balasubrahmanya.

"It is really a great pleasure to see people motivating and appreciating us. Right now, we are educating people about the nuances of cacao and dark chocolate. Along with this, we are also trying to bring new value additions to cocoa in different forms and flavours. Our focus is also on supporting the farmers in cacao cultivation to create more employment for the people in the local region while promoting environmental conservation", added Balasubrahmanya.

Sheetal Saxena, Co-Founder, Colocal

This bean-to-bar, Indian single-origin, hand-crafted chocolate provides unique flavours and enchanting experiences. While talking to Slurrp, Colocal’s Co-Founder Sheetal Saxena said, "For years and years, Indian cacao was dismissed widely for being inferior in quality. The belief that Indian cacao makes poor-tasting chocolate is so deep-rooted that chocolatiers even hesitated until very recently to invest in Indian cacao. The southern states of India, being closer to the equator, have all the ideal conditions needed to grow Cacao. This is what got me curious about Indian Chocolate".

Adding to this, Sheetal said, "Despite the whole world discouraging me to pursue a future in Indian Chocolate, I was headstrong that I would work with Cacao grown on Indian farms only. What followed were years of studying, learning, and internalising all the nitty-gritty that goes into making chocolate. Eventually, we at Colocal were successful at creating delicious chocolate out of Indian cacao. Rumour has it that our cacao is not fit for desserts. Indian chocolatiers shy away from working with Indian chocolate. We proved them wrong! Our desserts are all made from chocolate, and our patrons love them. In fact, our customers are testimony to the fact that Indian chocolate is inferior to none"

Sheetal believes that there is an alarming reason why the entire world needs to shift its attention to other cacao-producing regions. African countries such as Ghana and Ivory Coast supply as much as 70 percent of the world’s demand for chocolate, and the excruciating pressure created by worldwide demand has led to severe exploitation. "Colocal Chocolates has been instrumental in bringing significant attention to Indian cacao farms. As our story spread far and wide, more entrepreneurs showed an interest in Indian chocolate. Farmers are now eagerly looking forward to more business, a bigger scope of work, and a better income," she said.

"We are up to putting Indian chocolate on the map! We want the entire world to relish our chocolate. We want to educate more people about Indian chocolate and Indian cacao. We are manifesting a world where everyone loves and chooses Indian-origin chocolate", added Sheetal.

Zeba Kohli, Head Of Fantasie Fine Chocolates

As one of the oldest chocolate makers in India, Fantasie has been crafting universally beloved treats since 1946. Generations of experience, well-preserved recipes and techniques, and quality ingredients were skillfully blended into Fantasie’s celebrated selection of craft chocolates. Sharing her experiences with Slurrp, Head of Fantasie Fine Chocolates Zeba Kohli said, "I am a chocolate taster and chocolate sommelier. My love for science has made me a keen chocolate consultant, as chocolate is truly a precious food and requires knowledge of every layer around it. From its cultivation to the cultivator to the creator and finally the consumer, it excites me and propels me to create awareness about chocolate".

"Fantasie was started by my maternal granddad, and we here take care of his business and nurture Fantasie as it provides jobs for the less privileged". "I teach chocolate making and encourage Indian chocolatiers to the fullest", she added. It needs to be mentioned here that Zeba Kohli was the only Indian present to judge bean-to-bar chocolates at an International platform. She has also judged Italian, Mediterranean, European, African, Middle Eastern, and Asia-Pacific chocolates.

Slurrp also caught up with Tanya, founder and head chef at Whisk a Wish, and learned about her views on flourishing homegrown artisanal chocolate brands. Tanya believes that, as a chef and someone who is very conscious of the environment, she always looks forward to sustainable homegrown brands. She said, "Indian chocolates were not a concept when I started my bakery in 2013, but seeing how they are available now and becoming comparatively accessible, there is no reason for chefs not to give them a chance".

She added, "For me, using Indian chocolates also adds a depth of flavour and gives our products an edge over other brands that still use the commonly available chocolates. We also have the flexibility to work with Indian chocolatiers to provide us with chocolates that are vegan or sugar-free, which helps us broaden our menu. I try to offer the customers a variety of chocolates to choose from, and the feedback on Indian chocolates has been unanimously spectacular. I hope more pastry kitchens experiment with Indian chocolates and develop products featuring these."

What is your favourite Homegrown Chocolate Brand? Do let us know!