Finding my way to craft chocolate

Cusuco National Park, Honduras 2006

I've always loved nature. As a kid, my room was plastered with animal posters. Not the shiny ponies in a girl’s dorm but the more peculiar ones like flying squirrels, bats, opossums or the now extinct blue macaw. I had this naïve dream that when I grew up I would be able to contribute my grain of salt and to help preserve our environment.

But it turned out that life had other plans first, somehow growing up, people around me convinced me that it would be important to have a normal job and hence I studied a normal career. But after testing a normal job, which was nothing to complain, it paid a nice salary and was challenging, I felt the urge to escape. My route of escape was a master’s degree in environmental management/human geography which gave me the opportunity to spend some time in the Honduran cloud forest working with local indigenous people on ways to generate income while safeguarding the buffer zone of a national park with shade grown coffee.

I also learned everything I could about eatable plants (there are about 1’500 in Europe) the way to find them, prepare them, cook, but especially the history and anthropology. This is, understanding how do we relate to the plants we eat? How do these plants change us and how do they shape our history?

On my return to Switzerland, I got the opportunity to contribute during the start-up of Vivi Kola and the Vi Café. Especially the later instilled in me the love for the craft and the artisan way of working which for me has become the epitome of meaningful work. I truly admire their work serving pure single origin coffee. They visit the farms and cooperatives they work with and serve coffee with special purpose like their Orangutan Coffee which is specially designed to support these animals in Indonesia.

Later I’ve stumbled upon the bean-to-bar chocolate revolution that is happening mostly outside of Switzerland. Since then I’ve become compulsively obsessed to learn everything I can from craft chocolate maker. I love the way they relate to the environment in which the beans are grown, sourcing their cacao directly, knowing the farmers some of them even placing the pictures or names of them on their packages, the high degree of knowledge they possess of the entire process of chocolate making, the beauty and care they take into packaging, either by involving artists or connecting with the place of origin. For me, this makes every bar a piece of art.

I’ve not only become obsessed with eating chocolate and learning how to taste it and make it, but I’ve started to travel the world to hear the stories of the producers. It turns out that many of them also had a different first life (as a designer, a lawyer, you name it…) and that only later in life they discovered the art of making chocolate and the love for the craft.

This journey has enabled me not only to reconnect to my inner child naiveté but also to Mexico the country I grew up and which history is intimately liked to Cacao. It has allowed me to throw conventional wisdom out of the door, to start daring and to endlessly expend my curiosity.

I would love it if you join me on my journey!