reviewed by : Sandrine Huclin
29 February 2020
Kad Kokoa is one of the first bean-to-bar factories in Thailand and the first shop offering a chocolate cafe in Bangkok. The two-story timber house in pure Northern style lies in the sleepy Narathiwas Ratchanakarin 17 street, conveying a peaceful atmosphere.
Kad Kokoa started in 2018 when husband and wife duo, Paniti and Nuttaya Junhasavasdikul, successful lawyers traveled across Northern Thailand. During their journey riding a bike, they aspired to lead their life toward the slow food movement discovering coffee farms and gourmet food; they found a piece of land in Chiang Mai and started to grow their own cocoa beans. Soon after, they started to promote Thai cocoa. The couple started their training to learn how to transform cocoa beans to chocolate bar known as bean-to-bar. They studied in Singapore and then traveled to Hawaii where they learnt the process of bean-to-bar with another local chocolate artisan who taught them how to identify the cocoa bean quality, the fermentation process, the roasting, cracking and winnowing to tempering.
The chocolate factory is just behind the shop and cafe, so everyone can have a look at the chocolate making process. Nuttaya enlightened us about how to make bean-to-bar chocolate. It was extremely interesting and you can see for yourself the gross product before it is placed in their packaging. The whole process takes about 3 weeks from the pods harvesting. First, the pods and pulp are placed into large wooden containers with banana leaves where the pulps will ferment for 7 days. Then, the drying process can start from 3 to 5 days depending on the origin of the pods. The next process is the roasting. The beans would be placed in the coffee roasting machine for 2 hours. The roasted cocoa beans have a thin, papery shell around them which needs to be removed, so at this point in the process, the beans are cracked open and the shell is removed in a process called winnowing. The lighter shells are blown away with fans, leaving behind pieces of pure cocoa bean, known as “nibs”. Later on, they will use the shells to make their famous chocolate tea. The next step requires grinding the nibs, it is placed into a machine with stone rollers until they become a paste known as cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. The cocoa mass is transferred to another machine called a conch where the chocolate is further refined. During this process, sugar, milk and other flavourings are added to the chocolate. The conching process takes a few hours to a few days depending on the chemical structure of the chocolate giving the flavour notes in the finished chocolate. A last process called tempering is necessary to give a glossy appearance and the right “snap” of the chocolate when you break it. The tempering machine allows for the lowering and raising of the temperature of the chocolate to form the right kind of crystal. Finally, the melted chocolate is simply poured into plastic bar-shaped moulds before being wrapped.
This chocolate-maker couple are dedicated to using only single-origin beans to make their chocolate bars, pastries and drinks. At the moment four terroirs are represented with different notes. They started with Chiang Mai which had been awarded in its first year International Chocolate Award 2018 (Bronze) for Asia Pacific. They progressively added new terroirs consisting of Chumphon, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chanthaburi. All bars are 70% cocoa. In 2019, Prachuap Khiri Khan became the Silver Award winner at London’s Academy of Chocolate. You can buy the 55g bar at the price of 260 baht.
Chocolate lovers would be utterly pleased by the choice of pastries and drinks on the menu for a sweet treat on the weekend or weekdays. The Chanthaburi single origin 70% non-dairy chocolate sorbet is exquisitely creamy so yummy. Another hit, the Chumphon single origin 70% dark chocolate brownie topped with nuts to enhance the natural nutty flavor of this chocolate served with Chiang Mai vanilla ice cream. If you want to be knocked out, try the double chocolate cookie made with Isigny butter and Prachuap Khiri Khan 70% cocoa. Absolutely delicious!
For drinks, my favorite has to be the iced chocolate tea made from the shells of the bean. Not only is this easy to drink with a mellow flavor but it is still very satisfying. It would please anyone that is watching out for their weight. The perfect drink without guilty pleasure. Coffee lovers would also be glad to know that Kad Kokoa is collaborating with Bluekoff, Thailand’s leading coffee bean producer.
Kad Kokoa is partnering with several Pastry Chefs in Thailand and it would not come as a surprise that most of the upscale hotels of Bangkok have already fallen in love with this new chocolate brand and uses their single origin chocolate to incorporate it into their recipes and add the chocolate bars as part of their minibar menu.
Craving chocolate? Chocolate lovers and “go local” movements would be appealed by this bean-to-bar factory and chocolate cafe that promotes single origin cocoa from different regions of Thailand. The inspiring couple Paniti and Nuttaya are offering tours every Saturday to educate people on all things chocolate and embraces a bean-to-bar philosophy. Can’t wait to try the new up-coming single origin that would join the other four in a couple of weeks from now.