London, December 2016
chocolate bars made from Malaysian cacao.
We’re proud to introduce Beau Cacao, a new London-based chocolate company making exceptional single estate bars using Malaysian cacao beans.
Founded in 2013 by Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour, two young adventurers and food lovers who met in New Zealand six years ago, Beau Cacao is bringing an exciting new twist to the burgeoning bean-to-bar chocolate scene.
What sets Beau Cacao apart is their sourcing of cacao directly from growers in Malaysia. Bo San Cheung explains: “We chose Malaysian beans for their high quality and strong expression of ‘terroir’. Captivated by the country’s stunning natural diversity and friendly people, we decided to go directly to cacao farmers to source our beans.”
As soon as they receive their cacao back in London, Bo and Thomas make their chocolate from scratch, adding only cane sugar and cocoa butter, working in batches of just two kilos at a time. The couple use specialised machinery, some of which they’ve built themselves, to bring out the unique flavours of the beans in the chocolate.
Of the two bars being launched initially, Asajaya offers deep brioche, latte and caramel notes with a spicy acidity on the finish, while Serian has an earthy, smoky-sweet core with notes of pipe tobacco, sandalwood and paprika over a clean, tannic finish.
“Each estate has its own characteristics,” says Bo, “depending on climate, soil, topography and the fermentation and drying of the beans. We want our chocolate bars to reflect this is as honestly as possible.”
Falling in love with chocolate.
Beau Cacao has been a labour of love for Bo and Thomas for three years now. The couple met while working a New Zealand ski season in the winter of 2010, Bo taking a break from her career as a photographer and digital designer, and Thomas already established in ski resort hospitality from his native French Alps.
They moved to Tokyo, then Melbourne, Bo working for small creative agencies and Thomas at some of the city’s best restaurants. After a culinary tour of Southeast Asia, the couple headed to London, where Thomas worked at La Fromagerie and Bo at a innovative digital agency. This is when the idea of Beau Cacao first came alive.
Bo and Thomas started making small batches of chocolate at home, delving deeper into the subject with each bar, encouraged by friends and family. They initially bought cacao from South America, but as they studied more they learned of the uniqueness of Malaysia’s beans. With the dream becoming a reality, they eventually flew to Malaysia in 2014 to seek out first hand for the cacao that would change their future...
A change is gonna come.
By rejecting the modern mass market approach to making chocolate, Beau Cacao are creating a direct link between the consumer and the grower. “We want to show people how important the whole process can be to making fine chocolate; to not just appreciate the bar itself, but also the critical work of the farmers.” says Bo.
Thomas continues: “Through our research and travels we learned that chocolate could be just as complex, elegant and exciting as wine. There’s some really great chocolate out there, so much variety, and we want to help push the industry towards a positive change, where everyone can benefit from this extraordinary food.”
Presentation is hugely important to Beau Cacao. The bars are specially moulded, with each piece having a sculpted shape that sits comfortably on the palate. At the centre of each bar is a cacao pod-inscribed tablet, a little branded ‘prize’ to work towards.
The packaging is a collaboration between Bo, Thomas, Mark Bloom of London’s Socio Design and Adam Gill Motion Director in Portland, USA. Each wrapper features patterns influenced by textiles from Borneo and colour palettes inspired by the bars’ tasting notes, all printed on beautifully foiled recycled paper from Identity Print in Kent.
“When people see our packaging they’re intrigued”, says Thomas, “and when they unwrap the bars their expression is always of delight. Then they snap, taste, and the realisation that all this wonderful flavour comes directly from the cacao bean... I’ll never get tired of seeing something we created bring so much pleasure.”
Bo San Cheung adds, “For Thomas and I, it’s all about quality – quality of sourcing, ingredients, manufacture and presentation. Only by focusing on the details can we craft chocolates that we are proud to call Beau Cacao.”
- Beau Cacao bars are available directly from the company’s website, with a presence in local delis and artisan food halls coming next.
- The company is launching with two single estate bars: one using cacao from the Asajaya estate and the other from the Serian estate. Both are made in a limited edition run of around 4000 bars at a time.
- Eventually, Bo and Thomas would like to move production to Malaysia, to be closer to the beans’ origins, to work with the farmers throughout the growing season, and to look at ways of incorporating cacao pod husk fibres into the chocolate’s packaging.