the-comical-hat:

It begins like an evocative tale from old Indochina with two French émigrés crossing paths for the first time while trekking through a Vietnamese jungle. But that’s how the co-founders of Marou — Faiseurs de Chocolat first met.

They didn’t know it yet, but Vincent Mourou and Sam Maruta had…

Posted at 4:25am.

Yesterday, May 10th 2014 was ‘World Fair Trade Day’. It’s great but at Marou Chocolate we believe in fair trade everyday, and yet we are not a certified Fairtrade player. So where do we stand, what does it all mean? We tried to clarify things by answering a few questions from Klervi our French importer.

What is the MAROU concept?


Marou is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, meaning we make our chocolate from raw materials that are cacao and sugar. We are based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and so we are one of the very few chocolate makers working directly in the country of origin of our cacao, allowing us to work directly with cacao farmers.

How would you define ‘Fairtrade’?

Fairtrade is about farmers getting a good price for the cacao they produce. A good price sounds fairly abstract but in reality it summarizes a number of things: covering costs, making a profit, taking into account market prices (in particular the price a farmer could earn replacing cacao with another crop), the quality of the product and the work and investments necessary for maintaining a high quality production. In Vietnam we are fortunately working in good conditions, meaning that the normal market price farmers will get for fermented cacao beans is very close to the price of cacao delivered in London or New York, that’s already more than double what a West African farmer would typically earn.

At Marou we pay a significant premium over this local market price. The principle behind the premium is that we pay for the right to ‘first choice’, that is we pay more than the other buyers to have access to higher quality cacao before the other buyers.

But our approach to working with the farmers can’t be reduced to simply paying a premium. We believe that being there on a regular basis is just as important, we try to be the main buyer for all our selected farmers, we know them by their names, we know their family: our relationship with them goes beyond just trading.

This is only possible because there are no intermediaries between the farmers and us. Not that intermediaries aren’t sometimes necessary but since we can work directly with Vietnamese farmers it makes sense to do so. This is why we are also members of a great initiative like Direct Cacao.

 

Practically speaking, how did you find these farmers?

In the beginning it was just us on our motorbikes, looking for cacao farms along the road… Then we hired Mr Hoa, a Vietnamese friend who helped us a lot: scouting new provinces for us, talking to farmers, gathering samples… Now, at least in the provinces where we buy regularly, farmers have heard of us and it’s not uncommon for them to contact us directly.

How do you work with the farmers?

We started by selecting farmers who could do the job well: fermentation and drying are very sensitive steps in the making of good cacao, so we picked farmers who cared about their work and we tried to encourage them in this direction, which goes against the expectations of Vietnamese cocoa farming initiators who tended to be more concerned with quantity than quality.

Typically the farmers call us whenever they have a load of cacao worth picking up: from 300kg to 1t or more, depending on the size and productivity of the farms. We then arrange a visit date and go the farm with our cut test machines. We open each and every bag presented to us (occasionally, farmers will already do a pre-selection of what they consider to be ‘Marou-grade’ cacao) and after having a good smell inside the bag we take a random selection of 50 beans and cut them to check the quality of the fermentation.

Each bag is between 30 and 80 kg and generally corresponds to one fermentation batch. When we’re done with the selection we weigh all the bags that have ‘made the cut’ and we pay the famer directly for the cacao we have selected at a price negotiated between us, which is always at a premium over market price. The bags that we have rejected are usually sold by the farmers at market price to other buyers.

Is this Fairtrade?

I think this goes beyond Fairtrade: at the moment prices of cacao are historically high (50% over the Fairtrade minimum price), so Fairtrade prices are high too but we’re still buying at a 10% premium over Fair Trade price. Moreover ours is a sustainable approach founded on quality. We are making a great chocolate with means of production that are fairly ordinary. Our secret, and it’s not really a secret, is the quality of the cacao we use to make our chocolate. And this quality is produced at the farm, we cultivate it together with the farmers by sending a very clear signal that we always pay more for better quality cacao.

 

Then why are your chocolate bars not certified Fairtrade?

It’s hard to explain, but I think we have a problem with the whole certification game. Working the way we do it just seems a bit absurd to have to go and pay someone to tell us that we are doing things OK… We understand why it’s there and how it can help in certain instances, especially when you’re dealing with huge buyers that wield enormous power compared with the farmers, but we don’t recognise ourselves in this scenario: we’re not really that much bigger than our farmers, and we definitely feel more comfortable outside this system. I hope our customers trust us that we do as we say and really everybody’s welcome to check for themselves.

Do you advise the farmers on their working techniques?

Yes, as far as we can. But our capacity to help feels sometimes a bit limited. We can tell them whether we are satisfied with their results or not, but giving more precise advice really depends on controlling their whole process. It’s pretty hard, although having built and running our own fermentation station since last year has definitely helped us understand things better from a technical point of view. Going from farm to farm and in different provinces we are also in a great position to help spread ‘best practices’.

 

What about the farmers’ working conditions?

Regarding working conditions we are in a very comfortable position in Vietnam: the work is still hard out in the fields but there is no such thing as forced labour here. All of the farmers we work with are literate and they definitely know how to count too! These farmers make a decent living and for the most part their children are getting a university education, so we’re very far away from the situations of extreme poverty you often read about in relation to cacao farming in places like Africa, some South American countries or Haiti. In fact our number one issue in the years to come is to make sure someone will take over the farms when the generation of farmers we currently work with is going to retire. With our youngest farmer in his 40s and many of them pushing 65 it’s a very real concern. So it’s in our best interest to make sure that running a successful cacao farm is going to be as good an option as a job in the city for the next generation.

A final word for chocolate lovers?

Whatever chocolate you like, try and understand where it comes from, how it was made. The world of chocolate is going through very interesting times right now: the bean-to-bar movement is challenging industrial producers and for the first time chocolate lovers are finding themselves with a real choice of cacao origin, transformation processes, tastes, texture, it’s like the Cambrian explosion of chocolate out there! Go and talk to chocolate makers, the real ones just can’t shut up about their cacao…

 

Posted at 2:51pm.

It all started with a simple email back in September: Stéphanie Aubriot, a young French pastry chef at a new restaurant in Danang wanted to know a bit more about Marou. She had read about us and was curious to meet us and see for herself how we made the chocolate and whether it was any good. 


We responded as we often do by saying: please come and have a look. So one weekend Stéphanie flew from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City and visited the cocoa farm of Mr Duc in Ba Ria, and our chocolate factory. Talking to her during the trip she told us her story, how she came from a family of bakers in the historical Eastern city of Nancy in France and having learnt all there was to know about making bread and cake in the bakery founded by her grandfather she was still craving for more. So she decided to leave it all behind and go back to school, and what a school: she learned from Olivier Bajard in Perpignan, a ‘MOF’ or Meilleur Ouvrier de France and Pastry World Champion. Quickly Stéphanie rose to the top, she had the know how of those born in the business and the passion to become one of the best, and so her new mentor gave her a piece of advice: you’re young, you should go and have a look outside France, I think I know the place just for you, and so with a glowing recommendation she ended up in Bray, a small Berkshire village that is home to half of the 3 Michelin star restaurants in the UK…

When you arrive at the Waterside Inn, recounted Stéphanie, you just have to forget everything you have learned. In the kitchen of the legendary restaurant founded by Michel Roux more than 40 years ago, you first absorb the atmosphere, the spirit of how things are done, this is not Hell’s Kitchen, it’s the complete opposite: a team of highly skilled people dedicated to achieving perfection on a daily basis. And then you get to learn from the Master himself. “Don’t forget he was a pastry chef first!”

When I set foot at La Maison 1888 last week, I was more than a little apprehensive. Michel Roux has achieved so much in a career spanning more than half a century that you could expect him to either enjoy a well-deserved retirement or to have built himself into a monument. But nothing would be further from the truth: he is intellectually agile, always on the lookout for new ideas and has a wonderful sense of humour, in a word he is charming!

After opening our appetite with some scrambled egg and black truffle, I move on to a classic foie gras starter, and as the spectacular main course lobster arrives, Michel Roux points out that with its ginger and cilantro, this recipe that has been on the menu for more than 30 years at the Waterside Inn is a lot less traditional than his cuisine is sometimes portrayed to be.


But why I wondered, at an age when many aspire to a more sedentary life should he haven taken up the challenge of being the first 3-star chef to open a restaurant in Vietnam?

Michel Roux answered this question head on, his blue eyes vibrating with a youthful urgency: the owner of the Intercontinental Resort (where La Maison 1888 is nestled) has given me carte blanche, we’re creating a dining experience on a whole new level in Vietnam, but I am not new to Asia, 30 years ago I would come with all my kitchen staff and stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong for a month at a time, in those days you couldn’t find fine French cuisine in Asia, things have moved on but Vietnam is new to this game, so I’ve brought here a very strong team: Stéphane the Chef, Bastien the Sous Chef, Stéphanie the Pastry Chef and Simone, the Maitre d’hôtel, they have all honed their art with me at the Waterside Inn. And now they are training the Vietnamese staff who are tremendously dedicated, they learn very fast.

I have also, he said, put together the finest wine menu in Vietnam, you can’t expect people to have a 3-star experience and drink the same wines you would find in any cantine…

Then with a chuckle he adds, but you know back in the 60s it was the same thing in London, none of our British staff knew how to do anything in the kitchen, they had to learn from scratch!

Like the rest of the menu at the Waterside Inn, the desserts created at La Maison 1888 have an air of timelessness, classic recipes executed with perfection, using the best ingredients: we sampled in quick succession a marquise, then a soufflé and a tarte Tatin. 

Ah ingredients… This is how we got to meet Michel Roux in the first place. Based on the favourable report by Stéphanie, Mr. Roux tasted our chocolates during his last visit to Vietnam last October and found them, particularly our Lam Dong 74% to be good enough for the creation of desserts at La Maison 1888 and, why not? at the Waterside Inn. Having met him in the extraordinary setting of La Maison 1888 we invited him to visit our modest factory in Thu Duc.

Posted at 6:49am.

It is often said that any successful endeavour is the result of x% inspiration + y% perspiration. Today let’s look at the first leg of the equation…

This summer at Marou Chocolate, we found the time amidst a pretty busy schedule and without leaving Ho Chi Minh City to get some renewed inspiration from silicon valley insider Guy Kawasaki and from Vietnamese über mathematician Dr Ngo Bao Chau.

Guy Kawasaki is primarily known as the marketing guy behind the early heyday of Apple computers in the 1980s. Hawaiian born Kawasaki is a charming guy who has made a career of making things clear to his audience. In the very early days of Marou Chocolate, we’re talking so early that it wasn’t called Marou yet, reading Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check, a book aimed primarily at would-be Silicon valley entrepreneurs, really helped us focus on important aspects of starting up a business, such as selecting our partners, knowing what to expect when we were pitching our project; even if we weren’t courting Venture Capitalists or Angel Investors in Palo Alto, the book was a real eye-opener. Learning that Guy Kawasaki was coming to Saigon at the behest of the Viet Youth Entrepreneurs we took the opportunity to meet him (and give him a few bars of chocolate…) and listen to his too brief intervention on ‘Enchantment’ in business. Obviously Guy is the enchanting type, and his self-deprecating humour (his story about turning down the opportunity to become Yahoo’s first CEO _and a billionaire, but he couldn’t have possibly known it at the time_ was pretty hilarious) worked wonders. The master class took place in the relaxed environment of Cargo, a converted warehouse in the formerly rough dock area in district 4. The free flow of wine really helped the message too…

image



A few weeks later we turned up at the main lecture hall of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences to listen to Dr Ngo Bao Chau, Vietnam’s only recipient of the Fields medal, the highest award for mathematicians. Mathematicians of Dr Chau’s caliber evolve in an intellectual stratosphere where common brain cells die for lack of oxygen, so it can be hard to understand their brilliance if they fly too high to be seen from the ground where we tread. In an hour or so of discussing the links between beauty and symmetry and the parallels he sees between the work of scientists and artist, Dr Chau managed to take us on a roller coster ride from Platonic solid polyhedra 

image

to the not so eye-pleasing symmetries of some contemporary Vietnamese architecture and to the latent symmetry that makes the works of Sol LeWitt so fascinating to the mathematician and to me (I could stay in front of Drawing #260 for hours at MoMA said Dr Chau, I remember being similarly  engrossed when I first saw Sol LeWitt drawings at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when I was a student).

image

"The inspiration for my research is beauty" concluded Dr Chau.

Finally we had the pleasure to collaborate with a marketing class at RMIT, the Ho Chi Minh City campus of the Australian university. Led by Caroline Nguyen, six groups of students had to research and present on the subject of taking Marou to the following Asian markets: South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The students who were mostly Vietnamese had to present us with their findings, their recommendations… It was somehow weird to find ourselves on that side of the fence and at the same time a great breath of fresh air to be reminded of what we do and why we do it and how we could improve it by seeing these young women and men going through this ‘let’s pretend we’re Marou’ exercise.

What next, the Marou Apprentice TV reality series? Maybe not…

Posted at 8:23am.

Products

+ TIEN GIANG 70%

A chocolate made with cocoa that is grown by farmers of the Cho Gao Cooperative in the Mekong Delta: this full-bodied chocolate is characterized by unique notes of fruit and honey

+ DONG NAI 72%

This chocolate is made with cocoa that is produced at MAROU’s own cacao fermentation and drying station near Cat Tien Natural Park in Dong Nai province, making it a very rare ‘pod-to-bar’ chocolate. This chocolate is mild with surprising notes of spice

+ LAM DONG 74%

A very fine, rounded chocolate with delicate hints of spices, from small farms of Lam Dong province at the foot of the Central Highlands of the Annamitic range 

+ BA RIA 76%

A powerfully aromatic chocolate made with beans from the hills of Ba Ria province, with exceptionally high fruit notes, possibly our most distinctive chocolate 

+ BEN TRE 78%

An intense yet perfectly balanced chocolate, from the Ben Tre province in the Mekong Delta, where cacao trees are planted among the coconut groves 

+ TIEN GIANG 80% WALLPAPER EDITION

This chocolate is high in spice, tobacco and nutty flavours and showcases Marou’s dedication to exceptional design as recognised by London’s Wallpaper* magazine 

+ VIETNAM COUVERTURE 65%

A chocolate for discerning pastry chefs, packing all the great aromas of our single origin bars and made from a blend of selected Mekong Delta and Ba Ria cacao beans

 

Posted at 1:13am.

ALL HAIL LORD HUMUNGUS!

Who’s scared of pressing cocoa butter now? Well, we’re slightly intimidated by our brand new cocoa press. It started life as a rubber press and went through a bit of a rough patch in a junkyard, but now it’s back in action, flexing its 40t of hydraulic muscle to press cocoa butter out of our cocoa mass.

Posted at 7:25am and tagged with: Equipment, Bean-to-bar, lord humungus, cocoa butter,.

Where to buy Marou

+ AUSTRALIA

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR * 

HAMACO Trading Co
for wholesale enquiries please contact: louis@hamaco.com.au or chris@hamaco.com.au

Fourth Village 
5a Vista Street, Mosman (Sydney area) NSW 2088

Organika 
2/205 Weyba Road, Noosaville QLD 4566

Wholefoods House
109 Queen Street, Woollahra (Sydney area) NSW 2025

D.O.C 
295 Drummond Street, Carlton (Melbourne) VIC 3053

Bread & Butter 
2/358 Riding Road, Bulimba, QLD

Hawthorne Garage 
285 Hawthorne Rd, Hawthorne QLD 4171

*NEW*

Belmondos
59 Rene St., Noosaville QLD 4566

The Edge Food Store
1/138 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill, Cairns, QLD

Sweet
59 Rene St., Noosaville QLD 4566

The Edge Food Store
1/138 Collins Avenue, Edge Hill, Cairns, QLD

3 Monkeys Fine Foods
17a High Street, Willunga 5172 South Australia

Dr Earth Health Foods
287 – 289 King St, Newtown, NSW 2042

The Leaf Store
111 Ormond St, Elwood VIC 3184

The Boatshed Market
40 Jarrad Street, Cottosloe WA 6011

Smoults Continental Deli
186 Whatley Crescent, Maylands, WA 6051

Lize + Bath
Shop 12, Level 4, 227 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Steven Ter Horst Chocolatier
221D Unley Road, Adelaide SA 5061

+ AUSTRIA

Xocolat
Freyung 2, 1010 Wien, AUSTRIA

Confiserie R. Rajsigl
Maria Theresienstr. 18, 6020 Innsbruck, AUSTRIA

Rösterei Kaffeebohne
Marktstr. 41, 6850 Dornbirn, AUSTRIA

+ BELGIUM & THE NETHERLANDS

Patisserie Chocolaterie Vercruysse
Doorniksewijk 115-117, 8500 Kortrijk, West Vlaanderen, BELGIUM

Hilde Devolder Chocolatier
Burgstraat 43, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Carrenoir.Be
the first Belgian online store exclusively dedicated to fine chocolate

PETITS POTS ET GOURMANDISES
Baty de Branchon 38, 5310 Branchon, Belgium

Chocolatl
Hazenstraat 25-A, 1016 SM Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Sterk Amsterdam
De Clercqstraat 1-9, 1053 AA Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Tape
Hommelstraat 60, 6828 AL, Arnhem, THE NETHERLANDS

Velves
'All that makes sense in one box'

+ CANADA

* IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR *
http://www.misschoco.ca

Edgar Cafe
1558 Av. Mont-Royal, Montréal H2J 1Z2, QC

Le Fouvrac 
Montréal, QC

Talie Chocolat  
15 boul. Saint-Rose, Laval QC

Confiserie Bromont  
679 rue Shefford Bromont, Québec J2L 1C2

#NEW# 

Les Douceurs du Marché
Marché Atwater, 138 avenue Atwater Montréal QC  H4C 2H6

Le Cartet
106 McGill Street, Montréal, QC H2Y 2E5

La Vieille Europe
3855, boulevard St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2W 1X9

Geneviève Grandbois
Quartier Dix-30
9389 boulevard Leduc 
Brossard  
J4Y 0E7
162 rue Saint-Viateur ouest 
Montreal  
H2T 2L3
Café Tuk Tuk
1238 1ere Avenue, Québec G1L 3K9
Tamarack General Store
#10 - 638 Broadway Avenue
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan

Jojo Coco
4 - 471 Hazeldean Road
Kanata
Ontario 
Thin Blue Line Cheese
93 Roncesvalles Avenue
Toronto M6R 2K6
Ontario
Flyjin Café
417 rue Saint-Pierre
Montréal
Québec

+ DENMARK

District Tonkin
Gammel Kongevej 152A DK-1850 Frederiksberg C

+ FRANCE

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR * 

Delikats
for wholesale enquiries contact: klervi.mandon@gmail.com

  • LA GRANDE EPICERIE DE PARIS, 38 rue de Sèvres, 75007 PARIS
  • FINE L’EPICERIE, 30 rue de Belleville, 75020 PARIS
  • CHOCOLATITUDES, 57 rue Daguerre, 75014 PARIS
  • CAN TIN(E), 66 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010 PARIS
  • CAUSSES, 55 N.D. de Lorette, 75009 PARIS
  • VIA CHOCOLAT, 5 rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009 PARIS
  • 38 SAINT LOUIS, 38 rue Saint Louis en l’Ile, 75004 PARIS
  • L’EPICERIE DE BRUNO, 30 rue Tiquetonne, 75002 PARIS
  • EPICES ROELLINGER, 51 rue Sainte-Anne 75002 PARIS
  • BANH MI NOMADE, PARIS. Lieux et horaires de passage ici.
  • LE FILS DU PÔVRE, 31 avenue de la Mer, 14390 CABOURG
  • GOURMANDINE, 35 rue Billy, 61500 SEES
  • GRAIN DE VANILLE, 12 place de la Victoire, 35260 CANCALE
  • PASTILLA TEMPURA, 48 avenue Loucheur, 22000 SAINT-BRIEUC
  • LA VIE DE CHATEAUX, 40 av. de la Libération, 29000 QUIMPER
  • L’EPICERIE FINE, 12 place Terre au Duc, 29000 QUIMPER
  • L’ATELIER DES SAVEURS, 5 route du Letty, 29950 BENODET
  • DETOURS ET SAVEURS, 6 rue Copernic, 44000 NANTES
  • DES EPICES A MA GUISE, 27 rue Saint-Michel, 44150 ANCENIS (site web)
  • CHOCATHE SHOP, 49 rue St-Julien, 49100 ANGERS
  • LA BALADE GOURMANDE, 26 place du Grand Marché, 37000 TOURS
  • L’EMPEREUR DE HUE, 17 rue des Couteliers, 31000 TOULOUSE
  • VIETNAM DISTRIBUTION, 8 avenue de Lyon, 31500 TOULOUSE
  • VIN, ADOUR & FANTAISIES, 10 rue des Pyrénées, 32400 RISCLE
  • L’EPICERIE-SETE, 9 rue Gambetta, 34200 SETE
  • RHIZOME, LES RACINES DU GOUT, 116 Corniche JF Kennedy, 13007 MARSEILLE
  • CLEMENT CHOCOLATIER, 24 rue du Dr Barbaroux, 83170 BRIGNOLES
  • CHATEAU DE BEAUPRE, route nationale 7, 13760 SAINT-CANNAT
  • NAM SANDWICH, 12 place Raspail, 69007 LYON
  • LES PRODUCTEURS DE CARACTERE : vente en ligne ici.
  • GASTRONOME & GOURMET : vente en ligne ici.
  • XOCOLATL, Blumengasse 3, 4051 BALE, SUISSE
  • LILIBILLULE, vente en ligne ici.
  • LE P’TIT TRESOR, 28 rue Lamalgue, Le Mourillon, 83000 TOULON
  • VIOLETTE & BERLINGOT, 52 passage de l’Argue, 69002 LYON
  • COFFEA, 65 rue de la Roquette, 75011 PARIS
  • ROSE THE, 104 avenue Ledru Rollin, 75011 PARIS
  • RACONTE-MOI LA TERRE, 14 rue du Plat, 69002 LYON
  • LA FILLE DE MARGARET, 35 rue Boulbonne, 31000 TOULOUSE
  • NOAILLES :
    - 56 Canebière, 13001 MARSEILLE
    - 3 avenue du Prado, 13006 MARSEILLE
    - 359 avenue du Prado, 13008 MARSEILLE
    - Centre Grand V la Valentine, 13011 MARSEILLE
    - Monoprix rond point de Prado, 13007 MARSEILLE
    - 38 rue d’Endoume, 13007 MARSEILLE
    - 88 boulevard de St Loup, 13010 MARSEILLE
    - 26 rue de la République, 13400 AUBAGNE
    - 14 rue des Marseillais, 13100 AIX-EN-PROVENCE
    - 15 avenue Félix Faure, 06500 MENTON

***NOUVEAUX***

  • LES ENFANTS GATES, 6 bis rue des Recollets, 75010 PARIS
  • PUBLICIS DRUGSTORE, 133 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 PARIS
  • LES GOURMANDISES DE NATACHA, 3 place de la République, 92110 CLICHY
  • COMPTOIR MARLAU, 209 boulevard de la Libération, 13004 MARSEILLE
  • L’ADRESSE GOURMANDE, 12 rue Maurice Jouet, 78340 LES CLAYES-SOUS-BOIS
  • COFFEE MAKERS, 151 rue de Paris, 59800 LILLE
  • LA CAVE A MANGER DE JACQUES DUMAS, 20 rue des Bouchers, 59000 LILLE
  • EPICES ROELLINGER, 12 rue Saint-Vincent, 35400 SAINT-MALO
  • CHOCOLISM, 6 place de l’Eglise, 92260 FONTENAY-AUX-ROSES
  • TERRES DE CAFE, 32 rue des Blancs Manteaux, 75004 PARIS

+ GERMANY

Xocoatl - Feine Schokoladen

Grabenstrasse 24, Wiesbaden, GERMANY

Cioccolato Krefeld
Neue Linnerstrasse 90, 47798 Krefeld, GERMANY

Schokoladengalerie
Große Hamburger Str. 35, 10115 Berlin, GERMANY

Berliner Kaffeerösterei
Uhlandstr. 173/174, 10719 Berlin, GERMANY

Winterfeld
Goltzstr. 23 /Ecke Pallastr., 10781 Berlin, GERMANY

Kakao-Kontor-Hamburg
Langenfelder Damm 42, 20257 Hamburg, GERMANY

Feinkost Böhm
Stammhaus/Fil. 1641, 70173 Stuttgart, GERMANY

Selbach Confiserie
Dorotheenstr. 2, 70173 Stuttgart, GERMANY 

Stancsics Schoko-Laden
Prannerstr. 5, 80333 München, GERMANY

YELLOW STAR COFFEE
Greifenhagener Straße 64, 10437 Berlin, GERMANY

+ HONGKONG

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR*

Cult De Choco by Jeffrey Lee
contact: cultdechoco@gmail.com

+ IRELAND

Javaman Coffee
Unit 5 St Georges Market, Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3NQ

+ ISLE OF MAN

Cocoa Red
Aaron House, The Promenade, Port St Mary, Isle of Man

+ ITALY

Salumeria Gastronomia
Via Madonna 15, 20871 Oreno Vimercate (MB)

+ JAPAN

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR*

Amai Japan Hiroshi Sasaki

contact: sasakihiroshi@amaijapan.com
サロン アダム エ ロペ アトレ吉祥寺店
〒180-0003
東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺南町1-1-24
アトレ吉祥寺1F

+ KOREA

+ MALAYSIA

MONJO COFFEE
P5-11 Shafstbury Square, Cyberjaya, KL

+ NEW ZEALAND

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR*

ESTUTE Business Limited - Vanessa O’Neill
contact: vanessa@estute.co.nz or patrice@estute.co.nz

Christchurch 

Auckland 

Wellington

+ NORWAY

+ PORTUGAL

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR * 

PTT Ltda
for wholesale enquiries contact: np@ptt.pt; +351220946630

A Favorita Do Bolhão
Rua Fernandes Tomás, nº 783, Porto

+ SCOTLAND

Thinking Chocolate
19 London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5AT

The Chocolate Tree - 123 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh EH10 4EQ

+ SINGAPORE

Grand Hyatt
10 Scotts Road, off Orchard Road, Singapore 

+ SWEDEN

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR * 

Markus Beriksson
for wholesale enquiries: info@beriksson.netwww.beriksson.net

Places to buy Marou in Sweden:

Boden Kioskpiraten

Båstad Tant Grön

Eksjö Chocolaterie

Enskede Pigmenta design

Göteborg 
- Göteborgs Te & Kaffe, Nordstan
- Majornas te & kaffe, Majorna
- NK Kaffe, te & choklad, Centrum
- Verner & Verner, Nordstan
- Halmstad Di Mare Delikatesser

Hedemora Labys choklad

Kalmar Kahls The & Kaffehandel

Kinna Teds frukt och delikatesser

Kumla Vardagslyx

Kungsbacka Kioskpiraten
- Body Mind & Soul
- Teds frukt och delikatesser

Mölndal Aptit Te & Kaffeshop

Kungshamn Feldts brygga

Jönköping Oil & Vinegar

Lomma Seaside Deli

Lund Ahlgrens konfektyr

Luleå Mosaik

Malmö
- Ahlgrens konfektyr
- Bönor och Blad på Emporia
- Mariefred Två goda ting
- Mariestad Kakao-Choklad & Matglädje

Mjölby Sweet

Skellefteå Butik Udda

Skövde Rekord te och kaffe

Stockholm
- Bönor och Blad, Liljeholmen
- Caramella, Centrum
- Fine Food, Hammarby sjöstad
- Himalaya, Söderhallarna och Hötorget
- Home market, Bromma
- Kaffe Te & Tradition
- Mariatorgets pralinbutik
- NK Konfektyr, Centrum
- P&B delikatesser
- Söderhallarna och Hötorget
- Systrarna Voltaire

Stenugnssund Butik villa berga

Sunne Direkten Tibro Blommans frukt & grönt

Västervik Tindered lantkök

Ystad Saedéns Chokladhus

Åland Ålandsfloristerna

+ SWITZERLAND

XOCOLATL
Blumengasse 3, 4051 Basel

+ UK

* EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER & DISTRIBUTOR * 

Middletown Hill Ltd
for wholesale enquiries contact: sales@middletownhill.co.uk; 01939 260 879

London and South East                        

Fortnum and Mason181 Piccadilly,  London W1A 1ER, also selling online

Wholefoods, Piccadilly Circus -  20 Glass House Street

Wholefoods, 63-97 Kensington High St

Wholefoods, Richmond - 1-3 George Street

L’Eau a la Bouche -  35-37 Broadway Market London E8 4PH

Alexeeva and Jones - 297, Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London

Harvey Nichols - 109-125 Knightsbridge

The Chocolate Museum - 187 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8BA,

Louise and Son - 62 Pitshanger Lane, London W51QX

Olivers Wholefoods - 5 Station Approach, Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3QB

Leo’s Catering and Deli - 17 Market Hill, Framlingham, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP13 9AN.

North West

Cocoa Cabana  - 128 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester. M20 1JQ

Epicerie Ludo - 46 Beech Road, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9EG

Harvey Nichols - 21 New Cathedral Street, Manchester, M1 1AD

North East/East Midlands

Cocoa Wonderland, 462 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, S11 8PX

York Cocoa House, 3 Blake Street, York, YO1 8QJ

Harvey Nichols, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6AZ

The Chocolate Kitchen, Churchgate House, 33 Churchgate, Retford, Notts, DN22 6PA.

Janson Hong, 59a Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HA

West Midlands

Defaba - 15 Highfield Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, West Midlands B28 0EL

Harvey Nichols - 31/32 Wharfside Street, Birmingham. B1 1RE

Truffles Deli - 46 High St, Ross-on-Wye, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire HR9 5HG

Maynard’s Farm Shop – Weston Under Redcastle, Shropshire

The Chocolate Gourmet - 72 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury

Setonaikai Delicatessen - 25 The Parade, Shrewsbury, SY1 1DL

The Chocolate Gourmet - 16 Castle Street, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1AT.

Ludlow Food Centre - Bromfield, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 2JR

Cotswolds/ Midlands

Cotswold Chocolate Company - Digbeth Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BN

Broadway Deli - St Patrick’s, 29 High Street, Broadway,  Worcestershire, WR12 7DP

Chocolate Gourmet - 17 Friar St, Worcester, Worcestershire, WR1 2NA

Keiths - 2 Black Jack Street, Cirencester GL7 2AA

Maison Chaplais - 52 Andover Rd, Cheltenham, Glos. GL50 2TL

Confection Affection -  4, Threadneedle St, Stroud, GL5 1A Gloucestershire

Chocsford - 44 Elmthorpe Rd Wolvercote, Oxford OX2 8PA

South West

Bon Gout Deli - 45 Magdalen Road, Exeter, EX2 4TA

Chococo -  “Cocoa Central”, Commercial Road, Swanage. Dorset BH19 1DF

Chococo -152 High Street, Winchester, SO23 9AY Dorset

Chocolate Hotel - 5 Durley Rd Bournmouth BH2 5JQ

Wales:

Fredricks - 62A St James St, Narberth SA67 7DB

CC’s - Strand Street, Builth Wells, LD 2 3AA

Northern Island

Javaman Coffee - Unit 5 St Georges Market, BT1 3AL Belfast

Channel Islands

The Chocolate Bar - 10 Conway Street, St Helier, JE2 3NT Jersey, Channel Islands

Chocolate Clubs and Web based Stockists

www.cocoarunners.com  An exclusive subscription based chocolate club which features Marou.

www.chocolatiers.co.uk

www.beantobarchocolate.co.uk

www.chocolatetradingco.com

www.epicora.com

www.graysandfeather.com

 

+ USA

Alaska

Summit Spice & Tea Co.
3131 Denali St.
Anchorage, AK
summitspiceandtea.com

California

Lolli and Pops
1128 Glendale Galleria
Glendale, CA 91210
lolliandpops.com

Lolli and Pops
1151 Galleria Blvd. # 227
Roseville, CA 95678
lolliandpops.com

Chocolate Covered SF
4069 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
chocolatecoveredsf.com

Socola Chocolatier
535 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
socolachocolates.com

Cognoscenti Coffee
6114 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
popupcoffee.com

Goods
1748 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
goodsla.com

The Chocolate Garage
654 Gilman St. Suite G(arage)
Palo Alto, CA 94301
thechocolategarage.com

Chariots On Fire
1342 1/2 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
chariotsonfire.com

Chocolate Maya
15 West Gutierrez St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
chocolatemaya.com

Drivers Market
200 Caledonia St.
Sausalito, CA 94965
driversmarket.com

Go Get Em Tiger
230 N. Larchmont
Los Angeles, CA 90004
ggetla.com

Wally’s Wine & Spirits
2107 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
wallywine.com

Blossom Restaurant
4019 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
blossomrestaurant.com

Miette
85 Webster St.
Oakland, CA 94607
miette.com

Swift General Store
206 W. Bonita Ave. Unit N2
Claremont, CA 91711-4703
swiftgeneralstore.com

Twig & Fig
2110 Vine St.
Berkeley, CA 94709
twigandfig.com

Colorado

Americanum Provisions
3350 Brighton Blvd. #145C
Denver, CO 80216
americanumprovisions.com

Boulder Book Store
1107 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302
boulderbookstore.net

Piece Love & Chocolate
805 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302
pieceloveandchocolate.com

Illinois

Saigon Sisters
567 W. Lake St. Suite “A”
Chicago, IL
saigonsisters.com

The Goddess and Grocer
1646 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
goddessandgrocer.com

Maryland

Ma Petite Shoe
832 W. 36th St.
Baltimore, MD 21211
mapetiteshoe.com

Massachusetts

Heavenly Chocolate
150 Main St. Suite 8
Northampton, MA 01060
heavenly-chocolate.com

Michigan

Astro Coffee
2124 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, MI 48216
astrodetroit.com

Holiday Market
1203 S Main St
Royal Oak, MI 48067
www.holiday-market.com

Market Fresh
31201 Southfield Road
Beverly Hills, MI 48025
marketfreshfinefoods.com

Market Square
31201 Southfield Road
Beverly Hills, MI 48028
marketsquarestores.com

Mills Pharmacy & Apothecary
1744 West Maple Road
Birmingham, MI 48009
millspharmacy.com

ML Wine
33644 Woodward Ave.
Birmingham, MI 48009
mlspirits.com

Zingermans Deli
422 Detroit St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
zingermansdeli.com

Central Provisions
1603 Morton Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
centralprovisions.tumblr.com

Jhouse Juice
375 Fisher Road
Grosse Pointe, MI 48230
jhousejuice.com

Kalamazoo Bookstore
1200 Academy St.
Hicks Center
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
kcollegebookstore.com

Milford Health Mart
369 N. Main St.
Milford, MI 48381
healthmartmichigan.com

Scott Colburn Boots & Western Wear
20411 Farmington Rd.
Livonia, MI 48152
scottcolburnwestern.com

Tiffany’s Wine & Spirits
1714 W. Main St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
aatiffany.com

New Hampshire

Dancing Lion Chocolate
917 Elm St.
Manchester, NY 03101
dancinglion.us/cacao/

New Mexico

Pfeifer Studio
4022-E Rio Grande NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
pfeiferstudio.com

New York

Campbell Cheese & Grocery
502 Lorimer St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
campbellcheese.com

The Meadow
523 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10014
atthemeadow.com

2 Beans
100 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017
2beans.com

Stinky Bklyn
215 Smith St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
stinkybklyn.com


Exotic Chocolate Tasting
exoticchocolatetasting.com

Oregon

The Meadow
3731 N. Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
atthemeadow.com

The Meadow
805 NW 23rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97210
atthemeadow.com

Cacao Drink Chocolate
414 SW 13th Ave.
Portland, OR 97205
cacaodrinkchocolate.com

Cyril’s
815 SE Oak St.
Portland, OR 97214
cyrilspdx.com

Pastaworks
3735 Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214
pastaworks.com

Texas

Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
4220 Duval St.
Austin, TX 78751
antonellischeese.com

Cacoa & Cardamom
4234 Greystone Way
Sugar Land, TX 77479
cacaoandcardamom.com

Lolli and Pops
2601 Preston Rd., Space 2012
Frisco, TX 75034
lolliandpops.com

Lolli and Pops
15900 La Cantera Pkwy.
San Antonio, TX 78526
lolliandpops.com

Washington

Wine Tea Chocolate
3417 Evanston Ave N#102
Seattle, WA 98103
wineteachocolate.com

Chocolopolis
1527 Queen Anne Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
chocolopolis.com

DeLaurenti Food & Wine
1435 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
delaurenti.com

The Barrel Thief
3417 Evanston Ave. N. STE 102
Seattle, WA 98103
bthief.com

Online

darkchocolateimports.com

chocolate.org

POD72.com

standardcocoa.com

+ VIETNAM

+ HANOI:

La Place
6 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem, just opposite the Hanoi Cathedral

Oasis Deli
24 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

Veggies’ Hanoi
99 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho

L’épicerie at Hotel Métropole
Le Phung Hieu Street, Hoan Kiem, tucked inside Hanoi’s most fabled hotel

Hanoi Gourmet
6T Ham Long Street, Hoan Kiem

Hanoi Social Club
6 Ngo Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem District

+ DANANG:

Intercontinental Sun Peninsula Resort
Bai Bac, Sontra Peninsula, Da Nang, Vietnam

+ HO CHI MINH CITY:

District 1

Une Journee A Paris
234 Le Thanh Ton street, near Ben Thanh Market

Au Parc
23 Han Thuyen, between the Cathedral and Reunification Palace

FANNY’s classic colonial house ice cream parlor
29-31 Ton That Thiep

FANNY
at VINCOM CENTER, 70-72 Le Thanh Ton

Veggies’
29A Le Thanh Ton (corner of Thi Sach)

Sofitel Plaza
17 Le Duan (at the Gift Shop)

ZEST café & restaurant
5A Ton Duc Thang, next to the museum dedicated to Ton Duc Thang

Red Apron Wines
22 Chu Manh Trinh

L’USINE
70B Le Loi, exclusive retailers for the Marou Wallpaper* Handmade bars in Vietnam

Annam Gourmet Hai Ba Trung
16-18 Hai Ba Trung St., Ben Nghe Ward, Q1

GINKGO CONCEPT STORE
254 De Tham Street 

District 2 (Thao Dien):

Annam Gourmet An Phu
41A Thao Dien 

Oasis Deli at Snap Cafe
32 Tran Ngoc Dien

Mekong Merchant
23 Thao Dien (in the air-conditioned brasserie section)

Shalom Cafe
Riverside Apartments, 53 Vo Truong Toan

FANNY
63 Xuan Thuy, next to Warda restaurant

Gastro Home/Hue Corner
100 Xuan Thuy, next to K1 boxing club

La Plancha
25 Tran Ngoc Dien

Red Apron Wines
9A Thao Dien

THE ORGANIK SHOP
21 Thao Dien

VINO
1 Truc Duong, KP3, Thao Dien

District 7 (Phu My Hung):

Annam Gourmet Phu My Hung
SB2-1 My Khanh 4, Ng Đuc Canh, Tan Phong Ward, Dist. 7, HCMC

IF YOU LIVE IN HO CHI MINH CITY AND WANT TO ORDER DIRECTLY:

please drop a line to sales@marouchocolate.com, we’ll be in touch very shortly!

IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE HO CHI MINH CITY:

(anywhere from Mui Ne to Timbuktu) there is only one answer: it depends on how much chocolate you want to order and on our capacity to handle freight issues for your specific destination; again if you are interested do send a line to sales@marouchocolate.com

Posted at 7:12am and tagged with: where-to-buy marou,.

Our photo in a magazine! MAROU in the newS

We’d better get used to seeing our faces in magazines, or on webpages…

Firstly, here are a few links to blogs & Online sources mentioning MAROU:

http://obsession.nouvelobs.com/le-gratin-de-tables/20121106.OBS8272/tout-buzz-marou-le-chocolat-made-in-vietnam.html

http://winch5.blog.lemonde.fr/2012/11/05/chocolat-et-diasporas-creatives/

http://www.chocablog.com/reviews/marou-tien-giang-70/

http://www.chocablog.com/features/salon-du-chocolat-paris-2012/

http://standardcocoa.tumblr.com/post/38361901216/standard-cocoas-first-holiday-box-featuring

http://tableadecouvert.typepad.fr/table_dcouvert/2012/11/le-chocolat-marou-en-partance-directe-pour-le-vietnam.html#more

http://northernquartermanchester.com/bonbon-chocolate-workshop-arrives-in-the-northern-quarter/

http://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2012/12/marou-chocolate-–-too-good-to-eat/

http://www.chocolatereviews.co.uk/patisserie-vercruysse-winter-collection/

http://indie-brands.com/pages/indie-brands-q-a-marou-chocolate

http://r-tsushin.com/worldtopics/2012/vietnam_2012_10.html?=wttop

http://blog.carrenoir.be/chocolats-du-monde-monde-du-chocolat/le-chocolat-made-in-vietnam-coup-de-coeur-de-carre-noir/#.UKEmGU9SiuM.twitter

http://www.gourmandiseries.fr/2012/11/dernieres-decouvertes-tres-chocolatees-pierre-marcolini-al-nassma-et-les-perles-du-salon-du-chocolat/

http://www.chocolatitudes.com/gabriela-a-linauguration-du-salon-du-chocolat-2012/

http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2012/7/20/marou-wallpaper-special-edition.html

http://www.grazia.fr/au-quotidien/lifestyle/galeries/shopping-de-noel-cadeaux-pour-mes-copines-499740/(offset)/11

http://www.packagingoftheworld.com/2012/04/marou-chocolate.html

http://talkvietnam.com/2012/07/marou-chocolate-makers/#.UH5nn4uwn3A

http://hcmclife.com/marou-the-chocolate-brothers/

http://www.kerstinschocolates.com/blog/?p=1806

Ffollowing 2 are in Japanese:

http://ameblo.jp/usako-dreamstone/entry-11129284665.html

http://ameblo.jp/mamicommune20051122/day-20120115.html

2013 in the news:

BBC Good Food Magazine (UK)
Japan Airlines Skyward Magazine
In Elle Magazine
Afar Magazine (USA)

Our recent passage in Paris for the Salon du Chocolat has created quite a lot of attention in the French media:
In L’Express Styles
Le Parisien

MONCE UPON A TIME… at the beginning of the MAROU adventure
HCMC based English language monthly Asia Life covered our story in their December 2011. It’s not quite the beginning of stardom yet, but proof that people find our slightly quixotic enterprise interesting. After all we left corporate careers to start making chocolate in Vietnam (obvious choice, right?), we do try to change people’s perception of what Made in Vietnam means by caring obsessively about the origin, quality and presentation of our products and we try to do it in style!
Feature in Tuoi Tre’s Weekend supplement 19-2-2012: Tuoi Tre is one of the largest newspapers in Vietnam, the article was written by French-Vietnamese journalist Vo Trung Dung who also made a short film on the same subject for the French international channel TV5 Monde.
A feature in Thanh Nien Weekly, the English language supplement of the other large Vietnamese daily newspaper.
A great article in French by Sabrina Rouillé for L’écho des rizières N°88 (April 2012)
A shortened version of this article appeared in French daily Ouest France on June 13th 2012
http://www.ouest-france.fr/actu/actuDet_-Au-Vietnam-ce-sont-les-aventuriers-du-chocolat-_3639-2086573_actu.Htm
First article in Mandarin in Tatler China (June 2012)
Now this from a Taiwanese Design mag
In Vietnamese weekly newspaper Cong Ly Va Xa Hoi 05-12-2012

Posted at 6:50am and tagged with: press_page,.

Cacao and Chocolate in Vietnam, a brief history

Cacao was first introduced in Vietnam by the French in the late 19th century.

It is said that the famous Doctor Alexandre Yersin, a disciple of Pasteur, discoverer of the bubonic plague bacillus and formidable presence in Indochina from the 1890s to his death in Nha Trang in 1943 tried among many other projects to introduce cacao to Vietnam. Let’s just say this might not have been his most successful enterprise.

Indeed, a look at the French administration records in the early 20th century reveals that the French were early quitters in the cacao game: by order of the Lieutenant General of the colony the subsidy paid to the local farmers for growing cacao in 1890 was rescinded on January 24, 1907: “It seems, effectively, useless to encourage this culture which has, until now, not yielded any satisfying result”.

That’s from the same colonial power that imported most of its cocoa from the tiny island of Sao Tome (then a portuguese colony) or from the British Gold Coast (now Ghana), but didn’t develop cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast, which became the world’s biggest producer after gaining independence…

A few trees nevertheless remained in some Mekong Delta provinces, where the fruits were enjoyed fresh or sometimes turned into cocoa but without any significant investment or know how, cocoa remained a marginal product in Indochina.

Act 2 : Cocoa for the USSR

The second act of the Vietnamese cacao story takes place in the bleak hours of the 1980s, when a reunified but defiant Vietnam  depended chiefly on the USSR and other Eastern Block countries for its meagre trade. Soviet experts encouraged the plantation of cacao but by the time the trees were planted and growing pods in the early 90s the Berlin Wall had fallen, the Russian buyers had vanished and the farmers had no-one to sell their cocoa to. All but a handful of these trees were felled.
Taking part in cacao’s Renaissance in Vietnam.

In the past 10 years, cacao has benefited from favorable factors:

International trading companies (Cargill, EDF Man, Armajaro, Touton…), NGOs and public development aid (in particular US Aid’s Success Alliance program) have all invested in the development of cacao in Vietnam, supporting the efforts of remarkable academics like Dr Phuoc of the Nong Lam agricultural university.

Many programs are now supporting the effort of small farmers in a number of provinces, and we have met with many people who are passionate about cacao, whose hard work is making Vietnam one of the most exciting new producers of cacao in the world.
Chocolate makers have also shown an interest in Vietnamese cacao beans with renowned makers like Scharffen Berger in the US or Demarquette in the UK making limited edition Vietnam origin chocolates.

Being the first artisan chocolate maker based in Vietnam, and working in close collaboration with farmers, cooperatives and cacao experts, Marou is aiming to make Vietnamese chocolate a widely recognized origin for gourmet chocolate.

Is our chocolate good for the environment? Does chocolate have to be Organic? When is Trade really Fair?

They’re everywhere on chocolate bars, the little logos that say the product is Fair Trade, Organic, Max Havelaar Fair Trade, USDA Organic… And with good reason, let’s not forget that for decades the big chocolate companies closed their eyes on the appalling working conditions in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer.

One of the reasons that pushed us at Marou to develop chocolate making in Vietnam is the realization that while things may not be perfect here, at least Vietnam is a country that has an outstanding track record in terms of sharing the wealth among its still largely rural population. Up to a point, the success story of the Vietnamese economy in the past 20 years is based on a dynamic agricultural base with small farmers being helped and encouraged to successfully develop new crops (coffee, cashew, and of course cocoa in more recent years).

This development has not been without its problems: loss of wildlife habitat, deforestation, soil erosion, depletion of underground water resources… But the small family farm model is on the whole less detrimental to the environment than the industrial plantation model and because people are exposed to the consequences of their actions one acre at a time they also make farmers more aware of their environmental responsibilities.

Because cacao trees like to grow in the shade of larger trees forming a canopy overhead, cacao is ideally suited to growing in areas of reforestation, where biodiversity can be restored, this makes planting cacao more environmentally friendly than similar cash crops that require the clearing of forest.

Unfortunately the small size of farms here makes the case for going organic quite difficult. Given the cost of organic certification it is a huge leap into the unknown for farmers in Vietnam who have to undergo a 3 year transition period and the sickening idea that should aphids invade their trees they would not be able to spray them to protect their harvest. Local farms average less than 1 hectare of cocoa per farm. The only Organic transition project in progress has its (very large) bill paid by a foreign aid agency. We are obviously grateful for what this agency is doing, but once they’re done with the project, will the farmers have the capacity to perpetuate the scheme?

At the end of the day certification is by definition a bureaucratic exercise: a/ set norms, b/put in place standards to verify the norms are being upheld, c/ be able to bury any query under a ton of paper… When you’re dealing with a family on a farm that is just a couple acres, has a few hundred cocoa trees, some other marketable crops, a pond for raising fish, a pig or two and some chickens running around the vegetable patch, the whole thing seems a bit absurd.

So here we are, in Vietnam our chocolate has no fancy Fair Trade or Organic logos to show. But on the other hand it is made by people with a real interest in protecting biodiversity and ensuring that farming families can make a decent living out of their work. On this point I must point out that we buy cacao beans that are fermented and dried by the farmers themselves. This delicate post-harvest work is an important part of the added value from simply growing cocoa trees to being able to sell a high quality bean that is worth more than the bulk market price.

At the end of the day, we know the farmers who sell us cocoa by their first name, we pay them a premium reflecting the extra care given to the post-harvest processing and when we finish weighing the bags, the money goes directly in their pocket with no intermediaries to pay; we are happy to call such trade fair.

Posted at 6:36am and tagged with: history_page,.

Contact Us

Feel free to contact us by email for any enquiries about
Marou Chocolate

samuel@marouchocolate.com
vincent@marouchocolate.com

We will be more than happy to answer all your queries

Posted at 5:27am and tagged with: contact_page,.

Contact Us
Feel free to contact us by email for any enquiries about Marou Chocolatesamuel@marouchocolate.comvincent@marouchocolate.comWe will be more than happy to answer all your queries

Black Books

How time flies… it’s been over 2 years since we started the Marou adventure and in that short, intense period of time, the initial idea has grown into something real and big(-ish!) and much more complex than we could ever envisage. The result of those decisions we took on a whim, years ago, sometimes still impact us today. What if we had chosen that path instead of this? What was going through our head when we were building the blocks on which we stand today? We don’t have a time machine to question our younger idealistic selves, but something very close, a collection of 5 well-worn black Moleskine notebooks where day after day I have recorded scores of projects, meeting notes, sales plans, a never-ending list of to-do lists, squiggles and doodles…

Those notebooks were scattered all around my house, not exactly lost, but not really organised either, so when the other day our old friend Sasha asked us to unearth the notes from the days when we were conceiving the original moulds for our bars I took the opportunity to gather all the books in one place and take a few steps back to a time when…

Our chocolate bars could have taken a different shape…

Our factory could have been in a colonial townhouse…

Our production process was still theoretical…

The Black Book saga still continues and with it the recording of our adventures in Marou-land. The fact that all of these notebooks are of the same brand and the same colour (though not all have the same number of pages or the same finish…) is not entirely accidental. Call me a hipster if you want but I have long admired what Moleskine has done for the humble notebook: turning a commodified and often overlooked product, infusing it with the mystique of artists long gone and supernatural build qualities to make it a powerfully discreet attribute of the ‘creative type’.

PS: Black Books is also the name of an old beloved English sitcom…

Posted at 12:00am.

The passing away of a pioneer

Today we heard with great sadness of the untimely accidental death of Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company.

Mott, whom we got to know only too little in person, was in many ways a pioneer of the Bean-to-Bar movement and without a doubt the purest example of the subset of this culture where we find ourselves, what we could call ‘Origin Chocolate’: the production of fine chocolate in a country that grows cocoa, and only with the cocoa grown locally.

In this sense we regarded him as a kind of prophet, going boldly where no-one had been before, and where very few will ever be able to follow: from overcoming the technical hurdles of making a finished chocolate in a climate that, being fit for growing cocoa, was by definition too hot to keep cocoa from melting, to sharing equally the profits of selling the chocolate wit the cocoa growers on his funky Caribbean island of adoption, and to rigging up his machines on solar panels or shipping the chocolate to Europe on sailing boats or using bicycle delivery in an unsurpassable effort to offer 0-carbon emission chocolate.

Mott Green represented that spark of inventiveness, that revolutionary urge to rewrite the rulebook of chocolate-making as it had been in place for the past 200 years; cool reggae vibes could be felt all the way through the lush tropical landscape on the wrappers of the Grenada bars, to us they spoke of a new world of chocolate, it was adventure with a cocoa flavour…

Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Mott’s family and friends and to all those working at or with the Grenada Chocolate Company, long may they continue his legacy.

Posted at 12:00am.

The passing away of a pioneer
Today we heard with great sadness of the untimely accidental death of Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company.
Mott, whom we got to know only too little in person, was in many ways a pioneer of the Bean-to-Bar movement and without a doubt the purest example of the subset of this culture where we find ourselves, what we could call ‘Origin Chocolate’: the production of fine chocolate in a country that grows cocoa, and only with the cocoa grown locally.
In this sense we regarded him as a kind of prophet, going boldly where no-one had been before, and where very few will ever be able to follow: from overcoming the technical hurdles of making a finished chocolate in a climate that, being fit for growing cocoa, was by definition too hot to keep cocoa from melting, to sharing equally the profits of selling the chocolate wit the cocoa growers on his funky Caribbean island of adoption, and to rigging up his machines on solar panels or shipping the chocolate to Europe on sailing boats or using bicycle delivery in an unsurpassable effort to offer 0-carbon emission chocolate.
Mott Green represented that spark of inventiveness, that revolutionary urge to rewrite the rulebook of chocolate-making as it had been in place for the past 200 years; cool reggae vibes could be felt all the way through the lush tropical landscape on the wrappers of the Grenada bars, to us they spoke of a new world of chocolate, it was adventure with a cocoa flavour…

Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Mott’s family and friends and to all those working at or with the Grenada Chocolate Company, long may they continue his legacy.

Gold, Silver and Bronze at the Academy of Chocolate Awards!

 “The Academy of Chocolate was founded in 2005 by five of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals, united in the belief that eating fine chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures.”

Now in its 6th year and recognised as one of the leading awards in the world of fine chocolate making, the London-based Academy of Chocolate rewarded MAROU Chocolate’s first entry in such a competition with 3 Awards in 2 categories!

From the AoC press release:

 “There was a significant increase in the number of entries in the bean-to-bar category, indicating that more chocolate makers are entering the Awards.

Entries from outside the UK equalled the number of UK entries, demonstrating the international recognition of the Awards. Entries were received from the USA, Canada, Australia, Vietnam [that’s us!], Madagascar and Europe, including Italy, France, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.

To allow enough time to do justice to the many entries, the judging this year took place over 5 days, and involved a record number of judges – a minimum of 25 on each day. Judges included chocolate experts and buyers, pastry chefs, food professionals and food journalists including:  Bill Buckley, Charles Campion, Claire Clark MBE, Josceline Dimbleby, Chloe Doutre-Roussel, Jennifer Earle, Sarah Jane Evans MW, Mark Hix, Jenny Linford, Marianne Lumb, Charles Metcalfe MW, Marie-Pierre Moine, Amelia Rope, Yolande Stanley, Craig Sams, Emma Sturgess, Janie Suthering and Will Torrent … and many more.

- The Academy of Chocolate’s Best Packaging Awards are announced with GOLD going to newcomers, the Franco-Vietnamese producers Marou:  “beautiful enough to frame” [for the Tien Giang 80% Special Edition]

- Best Dark Chocolate Bean-to-Bar: MAROU Faiseurs de Chocolat Tien Giang 70% – SILVER

- Best Dark Chocolate Bean-to-Bar: MAROU Faiseurs de Chocolat Ben Tre 78% – BRONZE

The Academy of Chocolate Awards for 2013 will be presented at a party at  Fortnum & Mason (also a MAROU point of sale in London!) on Tuesday 23rd April when 5 special awards will also be announced.”

Posted at 12:00am.

Gold, Silver and Bronze at the Academy of Chocolate Awards!
 “The Academy of Chocolate was founded in 2005 by five of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals, united in the belief that eating fine chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures.”
Now in its 6th year and recognised as one of the leading awards in the world of fine chocolate making, the London-based Academy of Chocolate rewarded MAROU Chocolate’s first entry in such a competition with 3 Awards in 2 categories!
From the AoC press release:
 “There was a significant increase in the number of entries in the bean-to-bar category, indicating that more chocolate makers are entering the Awards.
Entries from outside the UK equalled the number of UK entries, demonstrating the international recognition of the Awards. Entries were received from the USA, Canada, Australia, Vietnam [that’s us!], Madagascar and Europe, including Italy, France, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.
To allow enough time to do justice to the many entries, the judging this year took place over 5 days, and involved a record number of judges – a minimum of 25 on each day. Judges included chocolate experts and buyers, pastry chefs, food professionals and food journalists including:  Bill Buckley, Charles Campion, Claire Clark MBE, Josceline Dimbleby, Chloe Doutre-Roussel, Jennifer Earle, Sarah Jane Evans MW, Mark Hix, Jenny Linford, Marianne Lumb, Charles Metcalfe MW, Marie-Pierre Moine, Amelia Rope, Yolande Stanley, Craig Sams, Emma Sturgess, Janie Suthering and Will Torrent … and many more.
- The Academy of Chocolate’s Best Packaging Awards are announced with GOLD going to newcomers, the Franco-Vietnamese producers Marou:  “beautiful enough to frame” [for the Tien Giang 80% Special Edition]
- Best Dark Chocolate Bean-to-Bar: MAROU Faiseurs de Chocolat Tien Giang 70% – SILVER
- Best Dark Chocolate Bean-to-Bar: MAROU Faiseurs de Chocolat Ben Tre 78% – BRONZE

The Academy of Chocolate Awards for 2013 will be presented at a party at  Fortnum & Mason (also a MAROU point of sale in London!) on Tuesday 23rd April when 5 special awards will also be announced.”

Peste et Choléra à Saigon!

On vous rassure tout de suite, inutile de faire sonner les signaux d’alerte des veilles sanitaires, aucune épidémie meurtrière ne sévit à Saigon, mais aujourd’hui nous avons eu le plaisir de rencontrer à la Librairie Française de la rue Ho Tung Mau l’écrivain Patrick Deville, dont nous avions adoré le dernier roman Peste et Choléra, une oeuvre de fiction littéraire, un roman donc, mais où tout est vrai, consacré au Docteur Alexandre Yersin, médecin franco-suisse, disciple de Pasteur, découvreur du bacille de la peste en 1894, créateur de la station d’altitude de Dalat et résidant au long cours de la ville de Nha Trang où il s’est éteint il y a 70 ans.

Mais avant d’en venir au coeur de l’actualité littéraire, il convient tout d’abord de répondre à LA question qui nous hante tous chez Marou: Yersin a-t-il oui ou non introduit le cacao en Indochine? La réponse de Patrick Deville, qui s’est penché sur les archives de Yersin à l’Institut Pasteur est: probablement non! Et pourtant Yersin a tenté d’introduire et d’acclimater beaucoup de nouvelles variétés: de la feuille de coca à l’hévéa en passant par la quinine. Ce qui confirme qu’on ne prête qu’aux riches (ou aux narco-trafficants)…

Pour fêter ce 70e anniversaire (et peut être aussi sa victoire du prix Femina 2012?) Patrick Deville est revenu au Vietnam et avant de partir vers Nha Trang et Dalat où vont se dérouler les célébrations officielles, l’auteur est à Saigon. C’est ici, il y a un an qu’il avait fini le manuscrit du roman, ayant suivi les traces encore largement visibles (mais pour encore combien de temps?) de cette figure centrale et pourtant totalement à part dans l’aventure coloniale française en Indochine. Tellement à part en fait qu’une rue porte encore son nom à Saigon et que sa mémoire fait l’objet d’un petit culte entretenu par l’institut Pasteur du Vietnam et une association à la mémoire du bon Docteur Nam.

Car si l’on suit bien le fil de ce roman vrai, que prédestinait cet homme possédé à la fois d’un génie pratique extraordinaire, capable d’identifier le bacille de la peste en 2 coups de cuillère à pot, alors que ses rivaux bien mieux équipés piétinent, capable par simple curiosité de créer, de la mer à la montagne une immense ferme expérimentale, produisant de la quinine, du caoutchouc, des légumes acclimatés, des fleurs, cet entrepreneur à succès qui ne se préoccupe pas d’argent, ce pionnier de l’automobile, de l’aviation, ce savant calviniste aussi curieux que frugal, cet esthète aussi qui parcourt la jungle à la recherche d’orchidées rares, cet homme aux talents donc si protéiformes et si tôt reconnus, que diable est-il venu se perdre sur les plages de Nha Trang, ce petit port de pèche endormi?

Selon Patrick Deville une partie de la réponse se trouve dans le parallèle qu’il établit avec la vie de Rimbaud, le poète effronté, le génie précoce de la modernité qui va changer de vie dans le départ vers l’Afrique et se survivre juste assez longtemps pour tenter de devenir ce héros positiviste que Yersin incarne, larguant son bagage de fort en thème, et de virtuose du vers pour aller vouloir dompter un bout perdu de la terre des Afars. Il rappela dans son intervention que Rimbaud, dont la bibliothèque n’a pas survécu, contrairement à celle de Yersin, ne commandait plus depuis son Abyssinie que des manuels techniques. On peut  regretter comme le fait remarquer le roman que Rimbaud n’ait pas disposé des mêmes connaissances médicales que Yersin: là où les 2 hommes furent blessés au cours de leurs aventures, Yersin put se soigner et se remettre complètement pour vivre encore 50 ans alors que Rimbaud ne sut que rentrer mourir à Marseille.

On saisit bien l’attrait de ces personnages quittant le statut bougeois et valorisant qui du Parnasse, qui de l’Institut Pasteur alors à la pointe du progrès médical pour aller parcourir, mais pas comme aujourd’hui en touriste, plutôt pour aller conquérir un monde nouveau, que la quinine et la photographie et le bateau à vapeur mettent à portée de main de ces gamins terribles et trop couvés par leurs mères et leurs soeurs, aussi casanières qu’ils seront aventureux. On songe aussi à cet autre médecin, que mentionne en passant Patrick Deville, traversé quelques décennies plus tard par la même bougeotte, côtoyant lui aussi l’Institut Pasteur mais qui ne trouvera que son propre dégoût au bout de l’aventure: LF Céline, héros négativiste?

On a profité avec gourmandise intellectuelle de ce petit moment auprès d’un écrivain qui avoue que la contrainte choisie de raconter une histoire vraie lui offre une liberté infinie (jusqu’à l’auto-fiction qui voit apparaitre en surimposition sur les lieux du passé où Yersin passe un ‘fantôme du futur’ dont la narration ne laisse aucun doute sur l’identité) pour lui demander s’il voyait dans sa démarche des parallèles avec par exemple Pierre Michon (Rimbaud le Fils) ou Jean Echenoz (Ravel…). Petit sourire de l’auteur qui avoue avec plaisir que même si leurs approches diffèrent  (A propos du Ravel d’Echenoz: ‘Echenoz parle d’une piscine sur le pont du paquebot qui amène Ravel aux Etats Unis, en tant que Nazairien je sais que c’est anachronique et je ne me serais jamais permis d’écrire cela!’), ces deux auteurs sont des amis proches et que ces questions animent souvent leurs conversations.

 (Note du rédacteur du post: aurais-je un jour le droit d’assister à un repas entre Echenoz, Michon et Deville? je suis prêt à payer les boissons!).

Posted at 12:00am.

MAROU in Tokyo: Salon du Chocolat 2013

It all started like that. We were preparing to wind down after a long day at last year’s Salon du Chocolat in Paris, and chatting with Elise, the über cool PR for the Salon over a well deserved glass of Brumont Vintage (the sweet, late-harvest 100% Tannat atomic bomb of a wine we were serving to VIPs along with our chocolate), when I received her sharp elbow in my ribs, with a hushed command to immediately go and greet the elegant Japanese lady who had just stopped in front of our stand, “You must talk to her: she’s from Isetan!” said Elise.

From this first impromptu introduction we were able to meet the Japanese buyers from Isetan and let them sample our chocolates. They in turn offered us an informal invitation to please visit the Salon du Chocolat in Tokyo that is hosted and organised by the legendary Shinjuku department store. We couldn’t possibly say no.

Fast forward 2 months and we arrived in Tokyo, breathing the cold dry winter air and ready to find out all about the local Salon du Chocolat scene. Although set in a much smaller venue than the one in Paris, the Tokyo Salon makes up for lost space with an offering that is much higher in quality, industrial players are all but absent and the accent is on beautifully presented high end artisan products.

For us, who were just visiting, the Salon offered an opportunity to meet again some old friends from the Salon, like Salon founder François Doucet and Stéphane Bonnat, or Hugo & Victor’s co-founder Sylvain Blanc.

As well as local celebrities Sadaharu Aoki and Koji Tsuchiya:

We also got to know better a few of the chocolate and pastry maestros who came to Tokyo like Sébastien Bouillet from Lyon.

After this great introduction to Tokyo we are now hoping to make the cut for exhibiting at the 2014 edition of the Salon. がんばろう!

Posted at 12:00am.