Local Artisanal Chocolates
Saluting Philippine Cacao
By Shen Mascariñas
Our groceries are saturated with imported chocolates, totally trumping our local bars (pun intended). How ironic, isn’t it? We can find mass-produced, local chocolate products in supermarkets and sari-sari stores, yes, but the artisanal ones paying homage to Philippine cacao and adhering to the beautiful bean-to-bar concept? Unfortunately, the latter remains to be quite hard to find.
The silver lining: More and more Filipino entrepreneurs are noticing and utilizing the country’s world-class cacao. Here are 8 local sources for excellent, artisanal chocolate with a huge freebie of national pride (you’re welcome).
This bean-to-bar company produces single-origin cocoa products from Davao’s lush tropical forests. Auro is as committed to putting Philippine cacao on the world map as it is to inclusive and sustainable development for the farmers they consider partners.
Aside from milk and dark chocolate bars in various percentages, Auro also offers baking coins, cacao nibs and a chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Look forward to unique chocolate flavors like brown butter and bacon chili. There are also other exciting products like Orange Peel Dipped in Dark Chocolate and Cerveza Negra Truffles. Genius!
Risa’s dark chocolate bars are made from Trinitario, South Cotabato cacao beans—made distinct with spice caramel notes.
One of the most popular Philippine artisanal chocolate brands—Malagos chocolate has already garnered many awards both here and abroad. Their tree-to-bar goods are of single origin from Davao. Taste the difference with their world-class dark collection. And for all you chocoholics, they’ve even created a chocolate museum—the first of its kind in the country.
Tigre y Oliva
Hailing from La Union—Tigre y Oliva makes handcrafted, organic dark chocolate with cacao beans from Davao Del Norte and Davao Occidental. You can expect hints of cinnamon and spice as well as earthy notes in their bars.
Although available in limited specialty stores, you can buy their products online and once you do spot physical stores, Tigre y Oliva’s beautiful packaging is definitely hard to miss.
Theo & Philo
Here’s another brand that impresses from its roots to its gorgeous packaging and of course, its flavors. How do Green Mango & Salt, Barako, Turon and Labuyo sound as chocolate flavors? There are even Adobo and Calamansi variants! Satisfy your curiosities by trying Theo & Philo stat.
Although currently using cacao beans from Malabog, Davao, Hiraya is constantly on the lookout for cacao farmers to partner with all over the Philippines. So far, they have two excellent products—72% Single-Origin Dark Chocolate and Roasted 100% Cacao Nibs. The former is fruity with just a tad bit of bitterness.
“This is not chocolate. This is Cacao.” Chocoliz is more of a cacao bar rather than chocolate. It’s not the smooth, milky bar that we’re used to. Instead, it’s grainy, nutty, earthy and uniquely delicious. It lets you appreciate the cacao beans more, which are only slightly sweetened with brown sugar. Their beans are sourced from Dingalan Aurora and Tigaon Cam Sur.
Kablon Farms houses a plethora of pasalubong items like jams, juices, vinegars and tablea. All of which highlight the products of South Cotabato. Here, you’ll also find all-natural chocolate bars made from single-estate cacao beans. Kablon Farms’ chocolate uses coconut sugar as sweetener, yielding fruity and tropical bars.
Any other local artisanal chocolate brands we’ve gotta try? Sound off below!