For Endorfin founder Brian Wallace, his first taste of fresh cocoa beans was a pivotal moment. A few months later he quit his job to travel the world, learn about chocolate and find the best possible beans.
His journey of chocolate discovery led him across the world and taught him about the different aspects of chocolate – from its ancient Aztec and Mayan roots to the latest developments in the craft chocolate.
Now based in California, he wants to create chocolate that is ‘intrinsically sustainable and nourishing to the soul’. We spoke to Brian about his journey of cacao discovery.
- What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
My spark for chocolate began when I had my first sample of raw cacao beans – the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree and the botanical source of all things chocolate. A subtle euphoria gently washed over me, awakening my mind & enlivening me from within. I quickly realized that the “chocolate” I’d had most of my life was so over-processed and diluted with refined sugar & milk that it barely resembled the original food crop it was derived from. A few months later, I quit my job to travel the world in search of the perfect cacao bean, and to apprentice with any teacher who would share their skills with me.
- What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
I am inspired to create a new style of chocolate, one that synthesizes classical European technology, modern nutritional research, and the ethereal aspects of cacao familiar to the ancient Maya & Aztec. I founded Endorfin to reintroduce cacao to the modern world as the highly nutritive, uplifting ‘food of the gods’ that it once was.
- When did you start Endorfin and with whom?
I started my company after a couple of years of working for other chocolate companies, doing recipe & product development, contract production, etc… I reached a point where I was making chocolates in my spare time, but not offering anything for sale myself. People kept asking me if they could purchase my chocolate, so I decided to start a brand to be able to share my creations with the world. I started the company on my own with the money I could scrape together, and have been growing ever since. Since we shipped our first chocolate in November 2013, I’ve been fortunate to work with a small handful of incredible human beings. My team is small at less than 6 people, and I plan on keeping it that way as long as I can.
- Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
I’m really excited to play a role in developing new origins, and helping farmers to produce better cacao and get compensated appropriately. The cacao industry has been ridden with terrible practices for centuries, so I feel very strongly that by creating a better model and making it work, we can really change the game, and at the same time, drastically improve the lives of farmers. I’m also excited to engage more people from an educational perspective, to share some of the scientific research we stay up to date with, and how it influences our chocolate making.
- How did you source your beans?
I guess it depends on the origin, but to put it simply – we source beans collaboratively with other small to medium sized chocolate companies based in the United States.
- What innovations etc are you most proud of?
I’m happy to say that I created a process to infuse coconut milk into chocolate, which has allowed me to create a new style of chocolate that we call “dark mylk”. It’s basically a dark chocolate recipe that removes some of the sugar and replaces it with coconut milk, which means the chocolate is dark yet really smooth, and totally dairy free. There are a lot of reasons not to consume dairy with chocolate, the primary one being that all of the antioxidants in cacao are bound by casein (a dairy protein), which means that you don’t even absorb them when you consume cacao and dairy at the same time. Cacao is the absolute highest antioxidant food on the planet, so this is actually pretty important.
- What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
I really enjoy the exploration of flavor as an art form. In California there’s a renaissance of sorts happening with absinthe, with underground distillers carefully balancing the unique, intense, and complex characteristics of all the botanicals used to make it. Having spent years crafting my own absinthe chocolate formulation using all of the individual botanical components, I know how hard it is to create the symphony of flavor that results when the ratios of the parts have been perfected.