One of the great joys in craft chocolate is discovering an amazing, previously unknown new maker. While this is not as exciting as, for example, discovering a new planet or even finding a previously thought extinct cocoa varietal, for us at Cocoa Runners it’s pretty exciting. So when Lizzie and Harmony came across TBros at the Salon Du Chocolat last October, we were pretty psyched.
Truong Minh Thang and Nguyen Duy Thong, two high school friends, set up TBros just over eighteen months ago in their home country of Vietnam. They’ve built an interesting hybrid model of being more than just a maker but not a full “tree to bar” operation. In addition to crafting all its bars, TBros also runs its own fermentation and drying centre for cocoa beans that it buys directly from farmers. This is different to the majority of our makers who work directly with farmers and buy beans that are already fermented and dried. And it’s also different to our tree-to-bar makers (e.g., Fu Wan, Chocolat Madagascar, Malagos, etc.) who have their own estates and craft their bars at origin. This hybrid model epitomises TBros’ approach to craft chocolate – experimenting as much as they can to coax different flavours and aromas from their beans.
Working with them has been great fun and a big learning experience. For example, we’ve discovered that the dates on their bars are when the bars were moulded and not the best before date (so don’t worry – these bars are good for another 18 months and more). And we are looking forward to expanding our range of TBros products to include their Cocoa Powder (great for cooking). But for now, please try their 70% Dak Lak and 70% Tien Giang bars, and for any keen 100% aficionado their 100% Tien Giang is not to be missed.
One final thank you. We’ve been really delighted by how many of you are joining our Choc O’Clock’s on Thursday and our Zoom Virtual Tastings on Wednesdays. So thank you — and please spread the word!
On Thursday with the help of 67 Pall Mall we piloted our first “joint” virtual tasting on “Fine Wine and Craft Chocolate, the double indulgence” with over 100 participants. We are planning a few more of these, so please see the schedule on the website. Next up is Friday 22nd May with Professor Barry Smith at 5pm UK Time on Zoom. Barry, in addition to being Professor of Philosophy at London University, also co-directs the Centre for the Study of the Senses. The proposed topic will be “Taste and Texture” and, with the help of some Velcro (we will explain) and a special new Virtual Tasting Kit, we’ll talk about why Craft Chocolate is a fantastic way to study the science of taste, refine your palate and share with friends (remotely).
Looking forward, stay safe and well
Spencer, Simon, Lizzie and Harmony, The Cocoa Runners team