Chocolate makes us happy. It's as simple and as dangerous as that. We're so excited to welcome Deva Cacao to Tsuno as part of our subscription box offer, and thought getting to know a bit about the handmade chocolate we're eating for breakfast currently was a good idea. Meet Maggie Quirk, the maker, and marvel behind Deva Cacao. Because adding a little bit of handmade to your order is always a good idea.
Can you tell us a bit about how Deva Cacao started and where your chocolate is made (and tested :))
Deva Cacao began as a love story and the desire to quit the 9-5 and do something more. My husband and I are long-time chocolate lovers but also very health conscious and Deva Cacao is the perfect expression of that (although, the 9-5 has now become more like 7-11 - haha!)
Deva started in Bellingen, NSW and we currently live in Tamworth, NSW where I make everything by hand in our studio.
Deva Cacao is the first tempered raw chocolate in Australia! Tell us a bit more about what that means.
Yes! Tempering is the process of precisely manipulating the temperatures of the melted chocolate in order to change its crystalline structure when set. The end result is a beautifully glossy and "snappy" chocolate bar. Traditionally only "cooked" chocolate was ever tempered but in recent years chocolatiers have learned how to achieve this same texture without cooking the cacao to extreme temperatures and destroying all of the amazing nutrients. We were the very first in Australia to do this with raw chocolate!
We'd love to hear more about the health benefits (so we can consume more obviously)
Oh my gosh, don't worry, there are so many! Each of our different flavour ingredients (peppermint oil, liquorice root extract, sour cherries..to name a few) have amazing health benefits of their own but raw cacao, more generally, is so nutrient-rich it has been referred to as a 'food of the gods' because it's an amazing source of fibre, antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, and chromium. Our nutritionist says raw cacao contains more antioxidants per gram than blueberries, goji berries, red wine, raisins, prunes, and even pomegranates. So don't hold back, seriously.
Was the process of getting to compostable packaging a tough one?
Yes, it was. Compostable film technology is rapidly evolving so things are becoming increasingly possible over time, however, there are still some major restrictions in the industry. We faced a big challenge regarding getting a good, airtight seal along with the printed areas of some film types which is why we ended up creating a box to go around an unprinted compostable inner bag. Another big hurdle is the expense. It was a huge investment for us as a small business but one we believe is the only way forward. We feel a responsibility as a business to educate others about this and lead by example so we just kept pushing until we found a solution.
What is the process of testing flavour combinations?
Ha, that's the best part! I don't know if there's a process as such. We just have an idea and then throw it together and see what it tastes like! We often share new flavour samples with friends and family to what they think and in the past, we have done a "soft launch" of new lines to gauge how it will be received before investing in bulk packaging. We actually did that with our raw chocolate covered Medjool dates and they are set to officially launch in their beautiful new packaging before Christmas.
What's your go-to flavour when chocolate cravings kick in?
The dates mentioned above (I'm eating one now!) and I can't go past the Liquorice or Macadamia.