Chocolate Purveyors 24- Corinne Joachim
Chocolate Purveyors is a blog series where we connect and discuss everything chocolate with both makers and enthusiasts. This discussion is with Corinne Joachim, founder of Les Chocolateries Askanya.
Les Chocolateries Askanya is Haiti’s first and only premier bean-to-bar chocolate company. They exclusively use Haitian cacao to produce their chocolates in their facility located in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.
Do you remember your first experience with chocolate? What was it?
Haitian Hot Chocolate – everyone gets it on Sunday for breakfast and on special brunch occasions. It is sweet, a bit spicy and so comforting. Whenever you had, it was a great day – definitely the highlight of my Sundays!
How did you go from engineer to chocolate maker?
Growing up, one of my bucket goals was to create a business in Haiti that would create revenue opportunities for Haitian – I didn’t want to just do “charity”.
I went into engineering, specifically industrial engineering, because in grade schools I loved mathematics and sciences, but also because I wanted to learn how to build and run systems (business, processes, services) efficiently. I was hoping, in the long run, to use these skills to run efficiently the social impact business(e)s I would create.
In my late 20s, when I had the engineering (and MBA) experiences and checked out several items in my bucket list, I felt it was time to get serious about that double-bottom business. I posited that the business would need to impact farmers (create direct revenues), young Haitian (create jobs), and the countryside (create opportunities).
After researching different Haitian crops (that were grown in Haiti and that I could buy from the farmers to provide them a revenue outlet), I found out about Haitian high-quality cacao beans that Bonnat and Valrhona were using. That’s when I decide, – how about if I create a chocolate factory. Even while I was making this decision, I have yet to see a cacao tree/pod. This would become a learning process and a real adventure.
For someone trying Les Chocolateries Askanya bars for the first time, what chocolate would you give them to try?
The Wanga Nègès, our brown sugar bar with 50% cacao, has “rapadou” – artisanal cane sugar, it’s unrefined whole cane sugar that we source directly from farmers in Center Haiti (also called panela in Latin America). It gives the bar a caramelized taste that is very unusual in chocolate.
The Minuit, our dark bark with 60% cacao is also a perfect intro dark (vegan) bar - with a rich, deep, and dark chocolate taste, without the bitterness associated with dark chocolate. A good choice for people who might not think they like dark chocolate.
Where does the name Les Chocolateries Askanya originate?
Believe it or not, Germany! My husband is German and since we met, our home has been NY (this being said, I was on the go, many times, from Pennsylvania, Singapore, Nebraska, Haiti, etc.). When I told him I wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial career in Haiti, he had two conditions: 1) I should be home at least 6 months per year (so no more than 6 months in total in Haiti per year); 2) The business should be named after his hometown in Germany: “Ascherlesben”, in Eastern Germany, which translates to Ascania in Latin (after the mythological Greek God Ascanius); which translates to Askanya in Haitian Creole.
What chocolate are you eating from other makers these days?
Me: Raaka’s Coconut Milk Bar
My Husband: Pacari’s Passion Fruit Bar
What challenges do you face making chocolate in Haiti?
Well – several, but thankfully, we overcame them all. From the infrastructures to the production to the shipping – all in all – they were challenging, but not impossible.
How does Haitian cacao differ from others?
In Ecuador, you fine these large estates with only cacao trees. In Haiti, farmers usually have “tropical garden” – small parcels (less than ¼ acre, often smaller) where they grow everything (mango tree, pineapple, tomato, a grapefruit tree, coffee, and of course cacao). I feel that our cacao takes some of its fruity taste from their close proximity to these other trees. In addition, Haitian cacao trees are older specimens (that often have not been rejuvenated).
How can we all help promote craft chocolate?
Helping with education is key. Customers still compare our “craft chocolates” with these sugar-laden versions with very little cacao and lots of preservatives (bad for you). We need help educating them around the difficulties and costs of sourcing child-labor-free cacao, the fair compensation farmers deserve, the challenges of producing at origin and without preservatives, and the need to make a real impact – eating good, and doing good.
What is the inspiration behind the packaging designs?
Good question! We wanted to highlight elements of Haiti’s fauna and flaura in our packaging designs. For instance, the brown sugar flavor is the wing of a Haitian Hummingbird, called Wanga Nègès in Haitian Creole, hence the name of the bar. The Paradis bar is a Bird of Paradise (flower), the Minuit is a dark local butterfly, the Bouquet Vert is a wild white flower and the Perle Rare is conch with a tiny pink pearl, very rare, one out of every 20,000 conches. You can find each of our packaging design in nature – they are all based on photos we’ve taken during our trips around Haiti (or just in my family’s backyard in Port-au-Prince).
What does the future hold for Les Chocolateries Askanya?
More chocolates (lol!). We are adding a new “orange” flavor – 82% cacao – it will be called Solèy and will showcase an orange butterfly. This would constitute our “Main” line (2 milk, 2 dark, and 2 fruity flavors).
We also want to start having a yearly selection – 4 to 5 flavors that will only available during that specific year. They will be fruity, nutty, spicy, and original flavors, based of course on Haitian ingredients. Be on the lookout in 2021!
We want to thank Corinne for taking the time to answer our questions, and we hope you learned more about Corinne and Les Chocolateries Askanya.
From rich dark Peruvian chocolate bars to new start-up chocolate bars on the come up, you never know what you get inside the box!
Each month we will curate 4 to 5 premium specialty crafted chocolate bars.
Have someone who you appreciate? It also makes as a great gift!
If you want to just try a couple of bars, check out our online chocolate shop, it's a selection of what we have curated in our past boxes.
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