Pioneers of Premium Drinking Chocolate
A velvety smooth, sweet tasting chocolatey drink that warms the heart and makes you feel right at home. But what’s actually in drinking chocolate, and where does it come from?
Like many modern day food and drink, hot chocolate has undergone a huge makeover in the last decade. Once a largely synthetic chocolate milk powder filled with additives, it has since joined the movement of quality, premium and transparent products that consumers have come to demand.
The Original Cocoa Traders (TOCT) were one of the first companies to inspire this change and bring hot chocolate into the the ‘free-from’ food market of the 21st century.
Helena Peda, co-founder of TOCT, had been working in the coffee trade when the idea was born. “We set up TOCT to service our own espresso business. We had got into the specialty coffee movement that was happening in the early 2000’s and realised that we couldn’t find a drinking chocolate product that was free from gluten, dairy, fillers, potato or corn starch”.
“It was clear, with consumers becoming more aware of allergies and intolerances to things like lactose and gluten, that there was a gap in the market. So we developed a drinking chocolate that met all of those needs.”
So in 2005, Helena and her business partners got to work creating a drinking chocolate formula that was, up until then, unheard of: a simple mix of cocoa and sugar, with no extra fillers or additives. The product went down a storm with their coffee shop customers and before long, TOCT were being asked to sell the drinking chocolate formula in bulk to other cafes so that they too could provide their customers with honest, ‘free-from’ drinking chocolate.
But TOCT’s business model is not just about simplicity of the recipe; the origin of the cocoa is of equal concern to TOCT.
The founders of TOCT know all too well that the cocoa trade has much to improve, and that businesses and entrepreneurs like them have a responsibility. In recent years, various reports have exposed slavery and child labor at the heart of cocoa farms in West Africa.
“I think that a lot of people in business think that it’s not really necessary to be a good ethical player when you live in a Western Society, that it’s a third world problem.” says Helene. “We’re all a big community, and if the smallest part of that community suffers then there’s a knock-on effect to the wider world. These are our problems to solve, it’s up to us to do something about them.”
TOCT are constantly looking for ways to further improve the quality and transparency of their drinking chocolate, negotiating with farmers and ensuring they pay a premium so that the money can be reinvested into communities and education programmes.
“We’re really passionate about education and how it benefits the region. In some areas, there are children who are taken out of schools to work in the cocoa plantations” says Helena. “The quality of their lives affect the products and what they can grow. Every step of that process from sourcing, to educating, to making sure farmers are getting a fair deal ; empowering the region is really important.”
TOCT are in the process of negotiating with more cocoa farmers around the world, with plans to launch a new line of drinking chocolate this July. TOCT want to improve lives through increasing education in the communities it works with and become the world’s number one drinking chocolate; a drink that doesn't just taste good, but also does good.
At MOTIF we drive revenue and profitability with strategies that are good for people and the planet.
We integrate social and environmental development goals into businesses in ways that gain competitive advantage, market growth and drive innovation. We work with leaders of ambitious companies who are looking to make well-informed strategic decisions that have a positive global impact.
Learn more about The Original Cocoa Traders here.