Sandra and Nicolas craft their pure and adventurous chocolate on the Rue du Nil, the “foodista” street of Paris. It is, in their own words, “an independent chocolate; it is natural and rare beans, a fair and bold recipe, a complete and subtle taste.”
Before starting Plaq, Sandra worked in the fragrance industry and Nicolas managed a graphic design agency. They first met professionally, as client and supplier, when during one particularly long meeting Nicolas shared with Sandra his favourite chocolate bar (a big sacrifice!). A few months later they had fallen in love – with each other and with chocolate.
They decided to start crafting chocolate in December 2017, when they realised that the world’s best chocolate was no longer French. They saw makers from Canada and America, in particular, pushing the boundaries of what was possible with chocolate. And their Cocoa Runners subscription box opened their eyes to the Craft Chocolate movement (their words, not ours!). They learned how to make bean-to-bar chocolate from Chloe Doutre-Roussel in her lab in Caracas, and were also introduced by Chloe to their first plantation: Chuao, in Venezuela.
In 2019, they were joined by top pastry chef Celine Lecoeur, and opened their pastry and chocolate shop in September that year. We’ve been thrilled to see the progress Sandra and Nicolas have made in their chocolate bars – and we’re so excited to introduce them as the latest maker to join our Library.
Keep reading below for more on Sandra and Nicolas’s drive and inspiration.
What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
To make a chocolate that meet our values :
- Only the best raw materials: Our raw materials are naturally exquisite. They embrace a respected “terroir” and are harvested with savoir-faire, especially due to the Agroforestry used in the cacao beans’ cultivation.
- Transparent recipes in plain view. Transparent recipe, zero additives (preservatives, emulsifiers, thickeners…), No more than four ingredients for our Plaq bars, And only what is needed for our cakes. Less sugar, and only good organic non-refined cane sugar. Elevating the cacao bean, not hiding it.
- We are standing up for fair prices and long-term commitment. PLAQ’s biggest priority. Still convinced that “less is more”, we are working within direct distribution networks; And we take time choosing our artisan-collaborators. There are fewer of them but better paid, to ensure independent and ethical work, throughout the whole production line and a fair taste for our customers.
Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
To keep testing new beans to reveal our favourite ones; to focus on our Manufacture in Paris; to welcome all chocolate lovers from all over the world; to keep proposing new and original recipes to our customers
What is the story behind your company name?
In French, a “plaque” is the old name for a chocolate bar (now we say “tablette”). So, when we say “from Bean to Bar”, we could say “de la fève à la plaque”. We are back to basics. Our brand “PLAQ” is a “plaque” without its last two letters.
In French, a « plaque » or the verb « plaquer » mean some other things too (non-exhaustive list):
- A hob or a cooktop (in cooking)
- To veneer (wood) or to plate (to cover the surface material of an object with a thin coat of another material)
- To leave everything behind, to give up everything (« tout plaquer »)
- PLAQ is also our programme in four letters: Pure Libre Artisan Qulotté
Who designed your packaging – and what are you most proud of about your packaging?
We are packing the chocolate in a responsible wrapping. We love our corporate identity, but we also wish to lessen our waste. On Rue du Nil, you can buy our chocolate, with or without packaging. That is to say, the bare chocolate, with just a glassine (an envelope made of paper, that is plastic and aluminium-free).