The Chocolate Life

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A month or so ago I discovered a bean to bar manufacturer in my own back yard, Australia. This is fantastic because there are not many Haighs and Nui are ones I definitly know make from the bean but there are others that I suspect can process from nibs and liquor but don't really go out of their way to say they go bean to bar. So add Zokoko to your lists I discovered them a few months ago and have been sampling extensively and they are good! Michelle Morgan, the chocolate maker, is turing out some fabulous dark single origin chocolate, taking the no vanilla stance and sparing no expence. Currently, batches are from a region in PNG and remind me of the Cluizel of the same origin. They are using refub. old choc making equipment and have been set up and pottering away for a while so it was a surprise for me to find them so late in the piece - I am a pretty avid chocolate nut. So if you are in Australia I highly recommend getting some, this chocolate is by far the best commercial chocolate offering produced in Australia and in my opinion is up there with the best in the world. Australia finally takes a step forward!!!

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Seems everyone knows everyone, a bit cheeky yes.

I can vouch for the chocolate though it is very good! By the sounds of it it has been pretty slow going for them with small batches and machine issues and they sell out super fast too.

I totally agree there is a massive battle to educate the Australian public, I have run chocolate tastings here and there and the apathetic response "so what" is all too common. Still dark chocolate is becoming more main-stream in the supermarkets and Zokoko is another step along a very long road. I am just excited to have someone in Australia produce chocolate that I would like to eat, other than myself of course.
Hi Samantha

I just wanted to clarify, that we (the Morgan's) did not say Haigh's were the only other bean to bar maker. As you identified, the SMH article did contain mistakes and things that we had not actually said. Unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity to 'edit' the piece before press. We advised the reviewer in writing of the mistakes and that we did not know the stage that other potential 'makers' were at.

Dean and myself have never actually met Andreas at Nui, so we don't know him personally. Andreas actually contacted one of our staff members in October 2009 to ask if we would contract manufacture chocolate for him. This is not something that we do for anyone.

You may like to know that we have been reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for 2011 and recommended for our sweets in '10 of the Best- Sweet' as well as a regional listing. We were also reviewed in the 2010 edition.

We are also reviewed in the Foodies Guide to Sydney 2011 and there are four other reviews on We were recently listed in the 'Top 50 Sydney Food Experiences' in The Sydney Magazine (October 2010).

I agree education is an important part of what we do to shift people's ideas about 'chocolate' but we do have champions such as Justin North at Becasse Restaurant who spread the word about our quality, locally made product. You will also find articles about what we do in Australian Gourmet Traveller (August 2010) and Luxury Magazine in The Financial Review (August 2010).

We have been working at origin for several years and had delays with releasing product as some of the beans have not met our quality standards. To make chocolate from scratch has been my dream for many years and having several children at the same time has certainly slowed our progress down but we bring great care and passion to everything we do.

To avoid some of the 'disappointment' expressed by the review you re-posted we are now a bean to confection manufacturer with everything being produced by hand at our factory.
As you are not that far away you may like to come and visit us and see for yourself rather than relying on a second hand review about what we do.

Michelle Morgan
"I also think it was a bit cheeky of the Morgans to claim that Haigh's is the only other company "believed" to make chocolate from bean to bar in Australia"

It was Helen Pitt, the author of the article who said in the article:
"Only one other company, Haigh's, is believed to make chocolate from bean to bar in this country." This was not a quote attributed to Michelle Morgan, so I don't think she was being cheeky.

I think that Ms. Pitt was the one who was saying that she believed that there was only one other bean to bar company in Australia, so she was the person with wrong information.
Getting articles written about what you do in newspapers in particular, in my experience, are problematic. They seem to have such tight deadlines that they don't check facts. I used to run a business importing skimboards from the USA and had some articles in the worst newspaper in the world (The Advertiser), anyway we were utterly amazed at the huge numbers of inaccuracies about what the sport was and what we were trying to achieve and we spoke to the people writing it in person and explained everything clearly. Really maddening stuff I know, and there is not much recourse once it is out there.

How is the Boliva coming along Michelle? I can't wait.
The beans have finally left Bolivia and we expect them in the next few weeks.... I can't wait either.

We were disappointed with the article because not only were there technical mistakes and misquotes, personal information was also wrong. It is quite frustrating when you speak face to face with someone and they don't report what you have said. Anyway enough said.

Are the Bolivian beans you are using the wild beans from the Beni? If not - can you tell me what region (generally) you are getting them from? I am going to Bolivia next month at the request of Volker Lehmann) and it would be nice to be able to add this into my presentation.

:: Clay

We are bringing in beans from Tranquilidad, Alto Beni (both tray and box fermented) and Chapare (also both tray and box fermented).

Hi Michelle,

hope you are well. Andreas here from AP/Nui...great to hear of your progress and congratulations. We all know the issue that arise when we first engage in the process, it is not an easy one...great to hear your dream is coming to fruition.

We are also increasing our capacity in terms of production, but there is only so much one can do with "hand made"...always open to compare notes

There seem to be some reps from Zokoko present or at least some people close to them - does anyone know if Zokoko plan to distribute via retailers around Australia or will the chocolate only be sold online? The reason I ask is shipping chocolate via mail/courier during summer months can be a bit dicey but I would like to try some of their chocolate.
Michelle Morgan is Zokoko with her husband - I think that is correct. Anyway, I have been getting chocolate from her, I just called the factory and got it posted. She uses next day delivery which is between $9 and $15 for up to 3 kg. I just order when it looks like it is going to be cool enough. I'd do it soon, temps are getting up there.
Yeah, we're having some warm weather in Melbourne at the moment but good to know it's next day delivery which helps the planning a bit. Thanks for the reply


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