Qantu chocolate is one of Canada’s newest and most exciting new craft chocolate makers. Maxime and Elfi live in Montreal and started experimenting with chocolate in summer of 2016. They founded Qantu in February 2017. And by the summer of 2017 already had two Gold awards and one Silver from the Academy of Chocolate.
Qantu is currently focused exclusively on cacao from Peru which is not only Elfi’s home country, but where she and Maxime met over a decade ago.
We asked Efli & Maxime a few questions about Qantu:
- What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
Elfi is an industrial engineer and Maxime an IT data specialist. We love chocolate for long time ago and a visit to the Alto El Sol in San Martin, Peru in 2014 where the spark occured. Farmers were so nice, generous and proud of their products that we fell in love with them.
- When did you start your company — and with whom? How many are there of you?
Company was founded in February 2017, Elfi and Maxime are the founders. We did our first test with chocolate on August 2016.
- What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
Our mission is to promote chocolate made with native cocoa beans. A lot of farmers convert from native to hybrid because they get more quantity, and we want to prevent that from happening. We also educate people on the difference between hybrid and native cocoa beans and why it’s important for biodiversity to preserve native beans.
- Where do you want to go next? New bars, beans, markets?
We want to have more beans from other regions of Peru, then we’ll target other native cacao from Latin America. For the markets, local market is pretty small so we want to leverage our prizes at the AOC to enter different countries in the world. We have orders from USA, UK (Cocoa Runners!) and Toronto, Canada. Other European companies showed their interest in tasting our products.
- What is the story behind your company name?
Qantu is the name of the national flower of Peru and Bolivia. It’s a wild flower that origin where Elfi and Maxime met 10 years ago. It’s also a symbol of unity among people.
- Who designed your packaging – and what are you most proud of about your packaging
The idea comes from Elfi who wanted people to understand the steps to produce chocolate so she came up with the idea of using 9 icons, one for each step. It was also designed to help sellers in different stores to remember easily the steps so they could explain to the clients. It’s also a good way to explain people the difference between a chocolate maker and a ‘chocolatier’ who buy chocolate and only melt it to make its products.
- How did you source your beans?
All our beans are sourced directly from the cooperative and imported with no middlemen. We visit the cooperative when it’s possible, if not we meet with them in Lima, Peru and ask how they work (harvest, fermentation, drying), we ensure the cooperative have good post-harvest and business practices. We have some contacts with DEVIDA, MINAGRI and APPCACAO so they can help us to validate the level of quality of the cooperative. Then we request samples so we can evaluate the physical aspect (moisture level, fermentation %, defects) as well as the flavours. If it’s good, we buy and import directly from the cooperative, a company must be paid to take care of the customs in Peru but that’s it, there is no middlemen, all the money goes to the cooperative.
- What inspired your choice of wrapper/mould design?
The mould represent the houses in an old neighbourhood or Montreal. It’s also the ‘Maison Qantu’ (Qantu’s House). We wanted something from Montreal in our packagind/mould.
- What innovations in tech, crafting, marketing etc. are you pursuing?
At crafting level, we just want to make chocolate our way. A lot of chocolate makers buy their beans on Internet with little consideration of the farmer or cooperative. We search for good native well fermented and dried beans. We work hard to preserve to the maximum all the flavors of the beans (less roasting means more winnowing work!). Also, we would like to do a partnership with a cooperative to help them export their own product. Many of them gets help with growing cocoa trees but very few gets help to produce a good quality chocolate and find clients oversea. We have 2 prospects at this time, Cooperative Songori from Selva Central and Fundo Estrella (Augusto Palomino) from Quellouno near Cusco. They working at improving the post-harvest this year, so hopefully next year we’ll start a project with them.
- What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
Elfi: Food: Ceviche and Sushi; Wine : white from Inniskilin, Discovery series Pinot Gris; Chocolate: Soma Peru Nacional
Maxime: Food: Aguadito (soup from Peru); Wine: Red Pinot Noir from Cloudline, Oregon; Chocolate: Dark Milk bars from Chocolat Madagascar.
- What chocolate achievement are you most proud of to date?
To win gold medals at the AOC on our first year. It was totally unexpected. We sent samples just to have feedback on our chocolate and know where we stand compared to other chocolate makers. We are also very proud that chocolate made us meet so much interesting and generous people, like the farmers, other chocolate makers, chocolate passionates, and you guys of Cocoa Runners 🙂 !!
Qantu In The Chocolate Library
Qantu - Chaska, Peru 70% Dark
Qantu - Chuncho, Peru 100%
Qantu - Chuncho, Peru 70% Dark
Qantu - Don Maximo's Quest 80% Dark
Qantu - Dreams of Cashmere 55% Goat's Milk
Qantu - Gran Blanco, Peru 70% Dark
Qantu - Morropon, Peru 70% Dark
Qantu - Oh la Vache! 60% Dark Milk