Founded by L Nitin Chordia in 2014, the Chennai-based Cocoatrait has three business verticals – Cocoatrait, a consulting vertical; Cocoashala, education and training vertical; and, Kocoatrait, a product vertical. Speaking about these, Chordia says, “We offer educational programs, raw materials, product supplies, chocolate experiences and consulting services. Our education initiative is Cocoashala, where we host the bean to bar chocolate making certification program and the chocolate tasters certification program.
“Cocoatrait supplies raw materials to the bean to bar industry and curates chocolate experiences across the country. Also, Kocoatrait is our chocolate brand (world’s 1st zero waste and sustainable) that we have established. For the bean to bar industry, it is the benchmark to emulate and follow.”
First professional chocolate taster
Chordia claims to be India’s 1st chocolate taster certified by the International Institute of Chocolate and Cocoa Tasting (IICCT), UK. He has worked as a retail business consultant both in India and abroad. Explaining how he got started in the chocolate business, Chordia says, “While working on a local retail consulting assignment in India, I had a chance to experience bean to bar chocolates in 2007. I started following the trend across the world, and over the years, decided to focus on crafting chocolates. Moreover, my meeting with Martin Christy from IICCT in the UK gave me good clarity on myths about cocoa and chocolate. After coming back to India, I started Cocoatrait.”
The company officially hosts the IICCT, UK courses in India. “We have trained more than 100 students from across the world in bean to bar chocolate tasting. We believe we are influential and have played a role in the success of almost every bean to bar maker in India,” adds Chordia.
Processing influences the final chocolate flavor
Chocolate processing from bean to chocolate starts with cleaning, sorting, grading of cocoa beans, roasting. The next steps include cracking, winnowing, refining, conching, tempering, molding, and demoulding.
Explaining the importance of each step in chocolate processing, he says, “Each step of the bean to bar processing plays a role in influencing the final chocolate flavor. However, I would say that fermentation, roasting, and conching are the main flavor developers. Any negligence in other processing steps would also mean a possible compromise on the final flavor of chocolate.”
Role of Cocoatrait in the supply chain
“To evolve further, the Indian bean to bar industry needs to access fine flavor cocoa beans. Unless these are available, the bean to bar industry will not keep pace, and we shall not be able to make fine chocolates. Cocoatrait works with farmers to define post-harvest protocols and arrange for the buyback from the farmers to ensure that they get paid according to international norms,” Chordia explains.
He adds, “We work with farmers in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh where we help them by educating them to improve their flavor quality by controlled fermentation and drying. We store the beans in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment in our warehouses in Chennai.”
Thermal stability of chocolates
Considering India’s climate, chocolates should be stored and transported under controlled conditions. According to Chordia, “Like every pure chocolate, our chocolates need to be stored in temperature and humidity-controlled conditions. Thermal shocks do impact the visual appeal of chocolate. We try and ensure that our chocolates are stored and transported in good condition. The ideal storage and display condition are 18º Celcius.”
Step towards sustainability
Chordia says proudly, “We are the 1st chocolate brand in the world to use a completely sustainable, up-cycled, biodegradable, recyclable and compostable paper, plastic-free and zero-waste packaging material. We have used upcycled cotton fabric blended with cocoa husk to make a box to place the chocolate.”
Chordia further adds, “We believe sustainability is not just about using organic ingredients. We believe that we need to be sustainable across the supply chain. With that aim, we also have decided to print our packaging using water-based inks in the future, which is both environment and people-friendly and is printed by V-Excel, a company that trains young minds who have special needs. We use the most energy-efficient equipment (many developed in-house) and intend to utilize solar energy at least in part of our operations going forward.”
Bean to bar revolution
Nowadays, consumers have already realized the need to consume organic products and make sustainable purchases. “We are happy that our efforts to connect with consumers have paid off. On the other side, consumers are also warming up to the bean to bar revolution, and we see that we are warmly accepted.”
“We hope that Cocoatrait will educate many relevant audiences about bean to bar chocolates in India and place India firmly on the global bean to bar chocolate map. Our goal is to ensure that India is at par with many other cocoa-producing countries that have begun their evolution in the bean to bar space,” Chordia concluded.