March 1, 2023
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 www.OFWparasaMagsasaka.com in 2016 and continue to empower farmers through healthy chocolates.
Related article: Luchie & Iman Suguitan – Illustrado 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf
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