Sir, please tell us, in the country of Cadbury, how did you come us with the idea of Kocoatrait?
L Nitin Chordia:- It is interesting that you ask this question. You are right, India’s population has huge sweet tooth however there is also a market for bitter products like beer and wine among many other products that are traditionally not sweet. Kocoatrait is the front-facing effort of our chocolate Institute called Cocoashala. It stands for environmental sustainability e and social inclusiveness while being guided with the concept of being a frontrunner in the circular economy of India.
Sir, you are India’s 1st Certified Cocoa & Chocolate Taster. Please tell us more about this course?
L Nitin Chordia:- Chocolate taster certification course is offered by IICCT, London and meant for serious professionals who wish to operate in this exciting New world of bean to bar chocolates. Just like a Wine Sommelier, a Cuppa or a tea taster, this course helps you understand the final product better. Most chocolatiers in India do not understand enough about the nuances of flavour in fine cocoa & chocolate. The chocolate tasting certification program gives enthusiasts a chance to upgrade (as a 1st step) towards being a Bean to bar chocolate maker also. He/she may choose to just focus on chocolate tasting too! In-depth exposure to the various flavours of cocoa & chocolate are explained and experienced via tastings. I did this course in 2015 and have tremendously benefited from the qualification. We now offer this course via Cocoashala, to the audiences interested.
The packaging used for the chocolates is sustainable and is printed manually. Sir, please tell us about the hard work which your team has to do for it?
L Nitin Chordia:- This effort is certainly a lot of hard work but is very rewarding. Because we stand for sustainability we have ensured that we do not waste our cocoa husk, which is a byproduct from our roasting process, and we include it along with cotton to form this upcycled packaging material which is also biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and paper & plastic-free. Once we have this material in hand we have chosen to work with an institute called Vexcel in Chennai that supports the cause of inclusion among differently-abled citizens of India. At Vexcel, the trainees help us execute our designs using screen printing which is the most energy-efficient form of printing available. Yes, it has taken us about eight months to perfect the entire process but eventually, we feel it has been worth the effort. It helps our goals of being environmentally and socially inclusive and sustainable.
Sir, please tell us how different are the chocolates made from the cocoa beans of Indian origin from normal chocolates?
L Nitin Chordia:- The usual chocolate that you might find on your supermarket shelf are not made from Indian cocoa beans they are usually made from cocoa beans of the bulk variety available in African countries in order to keep the price low. Most chocolates in India are not even made from cocoa beans! They are made from cocoa powder. Indian cocoa beans have the potential to differentiate quite easily. A lot of care needs to be taken to bring out the real character and flavour notes of the cocoa bean into the chocolate bar. Depending on how the cocoa beans are fermented and roasted the flavour can either delete the consumer or disappoint him. The easiest way to differentiate a characterless chocolate from a well made Bean bar chocolate using Indian cocoa beans would be tasted and specifically investigate the various delicate flavour notes that exist in the chocolate. This can be a fun exercise!
Kocoatrait chocolates are an experience with reusable packaging which has unique things like templates and chocolate guide. Sir, please tell us about this unique initiative?
L Nitin Chordia:- In lines with the circular economy which the government is today promoting, we have ensured that the wrapper of the chocolate is not wasted and the usable Life of the wrapper is extended. This is done by printing chocolate tasting guides, greeting cards, bookmarks, health trackers, mandala art templates, among many other interesting consumer engagement ideas on the inside of the wrapper.
Kocoatrait is a great initiative for the health-conscious chocolate lovers. Sir, please tell us, do you think kocoatrait will ever be making healthy milk and dark chocolates?
L Nitin Chordia:- We currently only make dark chocolates and very consciously use milk and we do not make white chocolate. It does not fit in our goals of being sustainable. The milk and white chocolates tend to satisfy the sweet tooth of the large Indian audience. However, we believe that we have to show the path for the next generation of Bean to bar makers and hence we need to show a lot of caution while embracing unsustainable and non-environmental friendly products.
Kocoatrait offers a unique range of flavours. Sir, please tell us how are people reacting to these flavours?
L Nitin Chordia:- We have always aimed at demonstrating the various exciting possibilities and flavours with cocoa in chocolate and help people get inspired. The fact is people are always interested in trying out new flavours that they can relate to in chocolate and also gift them. We are only encouraged and motivated by what customers tell us they want. In India, most people resist trying out new flavours but we are always catering only to the audience that is a bit experimental. Overall the reaction is always “Wow”. Sometimes they least expect flavour combination to do well and they are pleasantly surprised. Some of our flavours from that perspective are the sukku coffee and lavender.
Cocoashala can be a dream place for a lot of people? Sir, please tell us how it trains people in becoming chocolate experts?
L Nitin Chordia:- We started our Cocoa & Chocolate journey 5 years ago asking “How can you make the best product, unless you have a clear understanding of the best product?” At Cocoashala, we have curated several international certification programs which focus on Bean to bar chocolates. we realised that we need to start with helping people understand what is the best product even before they learn how to make it. This way they have an end goal in mind and the benchmark to work towards. Professionals, Amateurs or Beginners can enrol themselves for the chocolate tasting workshops or the Bean to bar chocolate making workshops right here in India and gain an in-depth and 360 degrees understanding of the business and the product. We have seen that when one completes both the certification programs, they are more qualified and much better placed than one would be with just a chocolate making certification. We have aligned with the programs very closely in terms of their structure and approach. However, we believe that no one is an expert. Yes, one can be more passionate and experienced than others but no one has the right to call themselves an expert. This is a never-ending learning process and we do not qualify anybody to call themselves an expert. We only set them up for success and for better understanding of the product. Yes, I must say that koshala is the dream place for anyone who wants to start their Bean to bar journey.
About L Nitin Chordia
L Nitin Chordia, India’s 1st Certified Chocolate Taster and Cocoa Post Harvest Professional, is based in Chennai, India. Nitin has tasted 2800+ different chocolates in his 6-year career. Nitin operates Cocoatrait which is an initiative to promote knowledge, production and consumption of fine chocolates in India. Nitin is a Judge at the International Chocolate Awards in London. Nitin hosts the chocolate taster certifications in India in collaboration with IICCT, UK and delivers Level 1 modules for IICCT, in London and Chennai. Nitin along with his wife Poonam (a trained chocolatier and a Level 2 certified chocolate taster) operates Cocoashala, a chocolate school which delivers the basic & advanced levels of Bean to Bar chocolate making training and beyond. Nitin has incubated 2 of India’s most innovative and largest bean to bar chocolate brands at his research & incubation centre in Chennai, India. One of them is the world’s most sustainable chocolate called Kocoatrait. L Nitin Chordia is based in Chennai and can be contacted at [email protected] or +919600064846
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