Tibito’s founder, Gustavo Pradilla worked in the automobile and mechanical industry for over thirty years. A chocolate-lover in his spare time, Gustavo saw the development of craft chocolate and the new makers making small batch single-origin chocolate. He saw the interest in fine flavour beans from neighbouring countries such as Peru and Ecuador but felt that his native Colombia’s own heirloom cacao had not yet got the recognition it deserved.
So Gustavo set up Tibito to showcase the best of Colombian cacao. He wants to prove that Colombia not only grows incredible cocoa beans but can also craft its own world-class chocolate. Gustavo’s bars all use beans from different Colombian provinces. He works with the farmers in the provinces to help perfect their fermentation process and pays much far above the market rate for his cocoa beans – in recognition of the care the farmers have put in and the resulting quality of the cacao. The beans are then transported to his workshop in Bogota where they are crafted in small batches into fine Colombian chocolate.
We spoke to Gustavo to find out more about his vision for Tibito.
What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
My background is in the car and heavy machinery business for 30 years, I sold my company a few years ago and decided to start a new adventure, completely different from what I used to do. I chose making fine chocolate, because I love good chocolate and because I live in the middle of the “fine aroma cocoa” producing part of the world.
What mission have you set yourselves for making chocolate?
The idea is to show that it is possible to produce fine chocolate in Colombia, a country that has up to now only thought of selling cacao as a raw material and never explored the possibility of producing good chocolate locally.
When did you start your company — and with whom? How many are there of you?
We started producing our first batch in September 2015, exactly one year ago. When I started with the idea in 2014, it was to be a “solo” adventure, but when my wife´s sister Luisa heard of it, she asked if she could join me. Luisa is a great cook in her own right, with a specialization in fine pastry. In total right now, we are 5 full time and 1 temporary help.
Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
First I want to continue exploring Colombia’s departments for different cacao varieties and flavors. Colombia has 32 departments (provinces) and they all grow cacao! Once I pick my favorites, I intend to go deeper in each region to pick specific farms which produce fine cacao. Also I have heard of beans like Cupuazu that grow in the Colombian Amazon basin it will be very interesting to experiment with these beans to see what comes out.
Initially we are in the domestic market which is unsophisticated in chocolate matters and introduce fine chocolate. Afterwards, start exploring export possibilities.
How do you source your beans?
I am going to cacao producers associations in the four regions I am featuring right now and buy the beans directly from them. This way, I offer a better price but expect from them a better fermentation process which is the most difficult thing to find. This way I cut the middlemen who mix the beans not necessarily of the best quality.
What inspired your choice of design?
I wanted a clean design that would jump out from the rest and a name that was short and easy to pronounce in any language. We want to first master the fine art of making chocolate bars and later explore truffles and other chocolate products involving tropical foods available here.
What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
My favorite food/meal, is breakfast! I love everything that goes with it! I am not much of a wine drinker and one of my favorite chocolate is Fassbender & Rausch from Germany 70% bars.