Although more than 70% of the world's cocoa is grown in Africa, only 3% of chocolate is made in Africa, even less by Africans themselves. To achieve true sustainability, Africans need to be able to do things for themselves – not through charity, and that's why De Villiers Chocolate said it is driven to create the very best chocolate possible – with ingredients sourced across the African continent, crafted by Africans, for Africans.
Cape Town, South Africa-based De Villiers Chocolate has been a journey 10 years in the making. From an exploration of the vast African continent in search of the finest cocoa beans, and a backyard garage hobby using recycled home appliances as equipment, to an obsession with the richness and diversity of a single origin chocolate, which continues to this day.
Along the way their passion for traditionally crafted, authentic products led them into coffee and homemade ice cream. These are produced and sold at their Spice Route Café in Paarl, a historic Cape Dutch estate and key attraction in the heart of South Africa's Cape Winelands.
Classed among the finest cocoa beans in the world, the crops grown in the tropical, rainy Bundibugyo district of Western Uganda produce a cocoa bean rich in a complexity of flavors. De Villiers Chocolate uses only these UTZ Certified beans because supporting sustainable cocoa farming is vitally important to Africa's future.
Thanks to the three voluntary sustainable standards (VSS) bodies actively involved in the sector, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, the percentage of certified cocoa sold worldwide has increased significantly, from 2% in 2008 to 31% in 2017.
"Once we discovered the cocoa beans of the vibrant Bundibugyo region in Uganda, we began to realize the potential of the journey we had embarked upon. It became our mission to create a chocolate brand true to its origin and the exotic taste of Africa,” said, De Villiers Chocolate CEO and Master Chocolate Maker Pieter de Villiers.
De Villiers believes their chocolate should reflect true artisanal values, thus all ingredients are sourced ethically, mindful of doing no harm to people, animals or the environment. They also use no palm oil, because the importance of preserving the rainforests and protecting the health of the planet is fundamental to this philosophy. And the chocolate has no artificial flavors, colorants, stabilizers, preservatives, or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Only unrefined brown sugar is used, and all products are naturally gluten free. Following a worldwide trend towards a vegan lifestyle, their dark chocolate is vegan and boasts many health benefits.
With their positioning as the first African-originated UTZ Certified chocolate brand, De Villiers is hoping to bring is products and flavors to the U.S., with a diverse range designed to provide unique African flavor profiles with ingredients from sea salt sourced from the pans of the West Coast of South Africa, vanilla pods obtained from Uganda, handmade honeycomb developed in their kitchens by a renowned chef, to the coffee beans they roast themselves. They handcraft their own caramel and biscotti, and roast their almonds and coconut, enabling them to continually explore and develop unique inclusions and flavor combinations that reflect Africa's passion and personality.
Using the Kickstarter platform, De Villiers Chocolate hopes to launch in the U.S. with unique, limited-edition pledges created to invite people to join them on their Good Chocolate Journey. Their goal is to raise $10,000 to cover the costs of manufacturing, marketing and distributing their chocolate in the U.S. For information, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/devillierschocolate or www.devillierschocolate.com.