Co Chocolat Opens the First Farm-to-Table Chocolate Factory in the Region

Four years after their online launch and with thousands of homes in the Middle East now  enjoying healthy chocolates and drinks, homegrown-UAE, women-led, family-run brand Co Chocolat now opens its doors to the first farm-to-table chocolate factory in the Middle East. 

It will be another proud first for the UAE as homegrown brand Co  Chocolat, creators of farm-to-table, handcrafted, artisanal single-origin chocolates, officially  opens its doors to the first farm-to-table chocolate factory in the Middle East on February 21,  2023. 

Differentiating itself from typical chocolate companies, the factory which will be open to  interactive tours will educate about chocolates right from its very source – cacao. Guests to the  factory will not only see machines, take part in the chocolate-making process, and taste Co  Chocolat’s many products, they will also get a chance to taste fresh cacao fruit. This is before  the cocoa pod is even dried and roasted to become the main ingredient of chocolates. Their  tours will also highlight how Co Chocolat’s mother company is a social enterprise that  empowers farmers in the founders’ native country, the Philippines. 

Iman Suguitan, co-founder and head of marketing, says, “There is no better time than now to  prepare our millennials who will be our future consumers about the importance of ethical  sourcing. We cannot be luxuriating while halfway around the world somebody is suffering because of our luxury. At Co Chocolat, making truly ‘guilt-free’ food choices is imperative.” 

Sister co-founders Iman and Luchie Suguitan started cacao farming in 2015 together with their  diabetic mother who has survived several brain strokes and a heart attack. “The World Health  Organization reports that about 422 million people worldwide now have diabetes. We thought of  revolutionizing how chocolates are perceived and made by creating chocolates and desserts  that are actually mouth-watering. Even if a person is diabetic, vegan, gluten-intolerant, or  requires a specific diet, he should be able to safely enjoy delicious treats. In our research, we  found that it all boils down to the choosing and handling of ingredients, and specifically for  chocolates, it all starts with our beloved cacao. Although we have lived in the UAE for almost two  decades, we spent time in the south of the Philippines where we learned to grow and  rehabilitate cacao trees, and even mastered the fermentation and post-harvest process. These  cacao trees we farmed then, and trees of other farmers who are part of our social enterprise,  now give the cacao which we use in the chocolates we sell here in the UAE,” according to  Luchie, who is COO and head of products. 

The farm-to-table chocolate factory will also be the venue for the first chocolate and cacao  school in the UAE. Chocolate Masterclasses where both newbie choco-enthusiasts and  professional chocolatiers can learn and improve their craft beginning this May. Co Chocolat  held with their community herbalist last week the very first “Xocolatl Workshop” which was all  about creating natural, zero-chemical skincare products using cacao specifically high-grade  cocoa butter.

About Co Chocolat:

Co-founders Luchie and Iman are certified “Cacao Doctors” after they were able to directly  grow cacao trees in their farm after one year of graduation in 2015. They co-founded the  social enterprise in 2016 and continue to empower  farmers through healthy chocolates.

Related article: Luchie & Iman Suguitan – Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf