From day one, we’ve stood for flavour. Since we first switched our roaster on, we’ve united with like-minded thinkers who are as passionate about flavour as we are.
Josh and Jacqui are the masterminds behind Bahen & Co, handmaking specialty chocolate in Margaret River, WA. Using stone-ground cacao and restored 20th-century machinery, Bahen & Co is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker dedicated to building long-term partnerships with cocoa farmers and producers.
Josh and Jacqui's attention to detail is second to none. We see a lot of ourselves in the team at Bahen & Co; from building quality relationships with sourcing partners to innovative roast methods. Together, we think we're on to something pretty special (and delicious).
Taking our signature Allpress Espresso Blend, the team have combined it with their Hacienda Victoria cacao from Ecuador to produce three lines of delicious artisanal chocolate.
We sat down with Josh to learn more about Bahen & Co’s sustainable craftsmanship.
So Josh, making chocolate in one of Australia’s premier wine regions, how did you get here?
JB: I was making wine in France and met a chocolate maker who gave me a tour of his workshop. We tasted some of his chocolate — I’d never tasted anything like it. Intensely fruity and sweet, it turns out that cacao (very similar to wine and coffee) takes on flavour from the region and soil where it’s grown.
I knew it was something I wanted to pursue myself but it was a very long process. It took about five years to get underway but we've since been sourcing our own cacao and running for a bit over a decade now.
Sourcing your own cacao sounds time-consuming. Why not just get some that's already available here?
JB: Very similar to coffee, harvest, post-harvest and grinding cacao is integral to flavour and quality. You just don't get the same experience from pre-ground cacao that you can find locally. It's always better from the source.
So you’re sourcing your cacao direct from origin then?
JB: Yep. Buying direct from farms means we know exactly what we’re getting — in our case, five different farms through Central and South America. We’re always on the lookout for new origins to source from and these days there’s so much good quality on offer, there’s no shortage of cacao that’s consistent, delicious and traceable.
What are you looking for in new partnerships at origin?
JB: Always looking for interesting and exotic flavours in the beans themselves and a quality relationship with the farm. Good people usually means good quality and flavour.
Once you’ve got your hands on unique cacao, you’ve got your own way of turning it into bars of the good stuff don’t you?
JB: We use a method called stone grinding to make sure we don't lose any of the unique flavours of the beans.
Stone grinding is a very slow and low temp process that keeps the delicate notes intact, preserving the terroir of the cacao.
You go to great lengths to source from sustainable farms. How did you start down that path?
JB: Coming from wine, sustainability is just what we knew. When you care for the soil and care for the vines, they’ll give you great flavour and quality in return. Cacao is exactly the same.
Everything goes hand in hand and you can taste it in the end product. Sustainable agriculture is in our DNA.
So what have you whipped up for us with our Allpress Espresso Blend?
JB: Well we ran a few trials among the team to land on our Hacienda Victoria cacao from Ecuador. This particular cacao is from a very cool project. A few years ago, this cacao was the country’s largest export but was replaced by a hardier, higher-yield cacao. The farmers wanted to save this delicious strain of cacao and turns out people are happy to pay extra for this expensive variety.
This cacao blended so well with the coffee, and we’re stoked with the outcome. The Hazelnut Praline is my favourite — and a favourite among the team too.