Artisanal chocolate brand Paul and Mike became the first Indian company to win a silver at the International Chocolate Awards (2020-21 world final) for its 64 Percent Dark Sichuan Pepper and Orange Peel Vegan Chocolate.
Kerala-based Paul and Mike follow a ‘bean to bar’ or ‘farm to bar’ process meaning that the manufacturer shortens, and often owns the entire supply chain between growing, harvesting, and producing the chocolate to ensure quality and ethical practices.
The company sources wet cocoa beans from farmers in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, and grows these beans on their own farms based in Kochi and Coimbatore. They ferment, dry and roast the beans to bring out the flavours in the bar and uses only real fruits, nuts, spices and pure floral distillates to make the final product in small batches.
According to the company, fine flavour cocoa originates from South America and Africa is the largest producer of bulk grade cocoa. To learn about the farming and fermentation of fine cocoa, the company sent a team to visit a few of these South American countries. Inspired by two farmers, Paul and Mike, the brand chose this name to honour them.
Backed by US$200M natural food ingredients company, Synthite, the brand unveiled its award-winning hot-and-sweet chocolate variant in May 2019 with company officials visiting the International Chocolate fair in Shanghai in December 2019 to present its ’64 Percent Dark Sichuan Pepper and Orange Peel Vegan Chocolate’, which was sold out within days.
Posting about the sucess in an Instagram post, the company said: “Today was a proud day for us – Paul And Mike is the first Indian chocolate brand to be awarded a Silver at the world finals of International Chocolate Awards! Our stated purpose since our inception has been to “provide the quality of a Pacari for the price of a Lindt. Today, after almost 3 years of consistent work put in behind the scenes, we have been judged to be in the same league as Pacari- literally! And with the recent depreciation of INR against Euro, we are now actually priced lower than Lindt!”
Our stated purpose since our inception has been to ‘provide the quality of a Pacari for the price of a Lindt’. Today, after almost 3 years of consistent work put in behind the scenes, we have been judged to be in the same league as Pacari- literally! And with the recent depreciation of INR against Euro, we are now actually priced lower than LindtPaul and Mike
Pacari is known as high quality Latin American chocolates and Lindt means mass produced Swiss-Belgian chocolates.
In a separate interview with the business head and founder of Paul And Mike, Vikas Temani said that they had been testing flavours and this particular variant was aimed for Chinese consumers. “As Sichuan pepper is widely used in Chinese and South-East Asian cuisine, we thought this variant would be ideal for their palate. The chocolate is vegan. Candied orange peel is used to add texture. The chocolate has heat and sweetness. It produces a tingling sensation on the tongue and people enjoy that and is priced at INR₹250(approx. US$3.41). Right from inception, our idea was to sell fine, artisanal chocolate at affordable prices. Even mass produced popular European brands cost more.”
Apart from this variant, the brand has 36 variants under its name like the Amazonian Pink Pepper to Indian fruits such as Alphonso, Jamun and Sitaphal, with only a few being vegan like the exotic Italian Piedmont Hazelnuts, 64% Mild Dark Jamun, Mild Dark Balkan Rose and 2% Dark Sula Dindori Reserve Shiraz Wine created out of cocoa beans aged in Dindori Reserve wine casks with plans to launch 100+ varieties this year.
Lead image courtesy of Paul and Mike.