Standout Chocolate launched into the craft chocolate scene as a one-man-band in 2018. Fredrik Martinsson, Standout’s founder, crafts his chocolate in Kållered, sourcing his cacao directly from co-operatives and farmers from all over the world.
Although chocolate may not have been a life long dream of Fredrik’s, his expertise in engineering and speciality coffee gave him the key skills to start crafting chocolate. Before chocolate, Fredrik had spent several years studying product development and innovation management and went on to study International Project Management at Newcastle University. For 10 years, Fredrik trained and worked as an engineer in the automobile industry in Sweden. He rapidly became interested in the emerging speciality coffee scene that emerged in the 2000/2010s in Scandinavia, and determined to try and share his experiences of Sweden’s burgeoning speciality coffee scene. And he came up with a novel approach — he began to develop his own advent calendar to present a unique coffee for each day during advent.
Fredrik was inspired to create a coffee advent calendar had been when he realised that advent calendars were moving beyond mass confectionery. He noted that Swedish children’s TV shows were also airing a new episode for each day from the 1st to the 24th of December, and that more and more tea and alcohol-based calendars were being designed, and launched, as advent calendars for grownups. And he was amazed to discover that despite coffee “fika” being ingrained within Swedish culture, there wasn’t yet a speciality coffee calendar – so he set about launching one
Curating the selection of coffees for the advent calendar was Fredrik’s first major investigation into the world of speciality coffee and slow food in general. And as part of this process, Fredrik also discovered bean to bar chocolate and starting to make contact with other craft chocolate makers in Scandinavia.
Because Advent calendars are only once a year, Fredrik sought out other opportunities to experiment with speciality coffee. He decided that Mother’s Day was another great opportunity to promote speciality coffee and Fredrik curated a gift craft coffee set that highlighted females within the coffee industry, from farmers to roasters, and he added to this a bar of craft chocolate.
Dabbling in the art of curation and backed up with his engineering skills, Fredrik determined to go one step further and get really hands-on. The most obvious choice was speciality coffee. However Fredrik realised that Sweden already had many speciality roasters, whereas the bean to bar movement was still only just starting in Sweden. Although there were already a handful of craft chocolate makers, all of which Fredrik personally new, Fredrik determined that he was in a great place to become a craft chocolate maker himself.
Standout currently sources its cacao beans from Cocoanect and Uncommon Cacao – two companies which link small holder farmers to the specialty cacao and chocolate industry. It was important for Fredrik to work with partners who shared the same values and had the same vision. “In Sweden people have health and wealth” and Fredrik believes that crafting chocolate with direct sourcing allows you to transfer wealth to the cocoa farmers who need it. So Standout is proud to buy its Indukki cacao – which is produced in India by GoGround Beans & Spices – via Cocoanect. Similarly Standout buys its Lachuá cacao – produced by Cacao Verapaz in Guatemala – via Uncommon Cacao.
We first tried Standout chocolate a few months after Fredrik formally launched and have kept in touch ever since. And after a year of watching his bars develop, we were delighted to start sourcing his bars and directly ask him a few questions for Fredrik.
What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
I’m a trained engineer with a BSc in Product development and innovation management and a MSc in International Project Management. I have also worked as a project manager within the automotive industry for the past 10 years. I got into chocolate in 2017 when I got to know the existing bean-to-bar producers in Sweden: Jenny at Vintage Chocolate, Fredrik & Ulrika at Kakaobolaget, and Jens at Malmö Chokladfabrik. I just loved what one could do with only 2 ingredients, the flavour, the craft, and that I’m able to affect the life of so many by my chocolate. The farmers, as well as the customers. When the opportunity came in 2018 to start my own business it was clear to me that I wanted to start a craft chocolate business.
When did you start your company — and with whom? How many are there of you?
I launched in august 2018. Just me at the moment.
What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
A better world, through social, environmental and economical sustainability for the farmers. And by changing the way the customers look at chocolate, raising the awareness level about what is actually “good” food.
What is the story behind your company name?
“Standout” should communicate what I want to do: produce “standout” chocolate. Standout in the sense of exceptional flavours, using nothing but cacao and cane sugar, as well as in the sense that everything I do should stand out from other brands in terms of social, economical and ecological impact.
Who designed your packaging – and what are you most proud of about your packaging?
It was a student project at a Swedish secondary school. I’m most proud of the way they captured the ‘nerdy’ aspect I wanted to communicate. I took a lot of inspiration from the speciality coffee industry. Originally I had looked at what was available on the market and saw that no one was really focusing on the whole product. That for me was a surprise. A big part of the brand Standout Chocolate is to make a difference on all levels, and to focus on sustainability. So: the outer wrapper is FSC certified (i.e. responsible forestry). The inner wrapper is made of biodegradable and compostable potato and corn starch.
What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
Traditional Scandinavian cuisine. In particular Swedish craft beer and Swedish chocolate maker: Svenska kakaobolaget. I like to try new chocolate makers, but I find myself favouring bars that (like Standout) only uses 2 ingredients.