A Port Moody chocolatier, who makes fair-trade chocolate bars and bonbons from beans, has won a major international award.
Margaret Inoue, owner of Cocoaro Craft Chocolate, claimed silver in the Americas Bean-to-Bar and Craft Chocolatier Competition for two chocolate bars, which have already earned accolades from local purchasers.
"It gives you a rush and a sense of purpose: 'Yeah, you're on the right track,'" Inoue told the Tri-City News.
The winning bars included:
- Kokoa Kamili
- A dark chocolate bar with beans sourced from Tanzania
- Judged in the micro category
- Strawberry Shiso
- An alt-milk chocolate bar made with non-dairy oat rice and coconut, milk, local strawberries and a Japanese mint-like herb
- Judged in the milk chocolate, infused category
Both of the bars ranked high among the chocolate purists that judged dozens of submissions from all over the world using a blind taste test.
Inoue said the judges liked the unique flavour of the hand-crafted chocolate bars.
"I was really excited. it took a long time for them to judge because of COVID-19 — I submitted in April, and hadn’t heard anything," said Inoue.
She said the award is gratifying after three years in business in Port Moody.
Cocoaro Craft Chocolate, located at 2415A Clarke St., has become the go-to place for people who want more than a store-bought bar to satisfy their sugar cravings.
The Coquitlam resident has taught herself how to make chocolate from beans, which come from the fruit of cacao trees grown in Tanzania, Colombia and Ecuador.
Many of the farmers are Indigenous growers or working in cooperatives and are making a living wage, she said.
She experiments with unique flavour combinations, and uses locally-grown products, such as ginger and strawberries.
Many of these combinations are available in chocolate bars and bonbons that Inoue is preparing now in time for holiday shopping.
Holiday chocolates and bonbons
They can be purchased in the store, between Thursday and Monday, or online.
Among the holiday-themed chocolate bars are Winter Mulled Spice, Cranberry Ginger bars and Oatmeal White Chocolate.
Inoue said she also plans to do an amaretto truffle and a ginger bread maple butter bonbon in time for holiday giving and entertaining.
"It is definitely the busiest time for me. I start in October and should have started more in August," she said.
Meanwhile, those who visit the shop can often see Inoue at work making the chocolate from scratch.
She grinds the cacao beans, called "nibs," which are dried and fermented cacao pieces, roasts and tempers the chocolate, adds flavours and even wraps it herself in decorative wrappers.