Guide To Vietnamese Chocolate | From Bean To Bar Delights!

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Tiffany Hoang
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Last Updated: December 5, 2023

Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and diverse culinary scene have long been captivating travelers from around the world. Among the country’s hidden gems lies a delectable surprise that has been gaining recognition on the global stage – Vietnamese chocolate.

In this article, let’s embark on a captivating voyage into Vietnamese chocolate, revealing its origins, unique attributes, and the rise of chocolate tourism- Discover a realm where flavors entwine and traditions flourish. Whether you’re a chocolate lover or an avid adventurer seeking a taste of Vietnam’s essence, these exceptional chocolate brands await your exploration. Join us and immerse yourself in a world of delectable wonders!

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History Of Vietnamese Chocolate

Cacao was brought to Vietnam by the French during their colonial rule, with Dr. Alexandre Yersin playing a crucial role. However, early cultivation efforts faced challenges, resulting in a meager annual output of cacao. After the French left in 1954, cacao trees remained, but the industry saw little progress, and many plantations were destroyed during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam’s cacao industry has experienced a revival since 2000, driven by international partnerships and research. Despite facing setbacks during the 2008 financial crisis, passionate farmers persevered. Vietnam’s chocolate culture is rooted in its abundant countryside, where beans are transformed into mouthwatering delights. This demonstrates the country’s commitment to producing high-quality cacao-based products.

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cacao vietnam
Cacao beans.

Top 5 Vietnamese Chocolate Brands

When it comes to immersing yourself in the delectable world of Vietnamese chocolate, a handful of indigenous chocolate makers have masterfully blended their craft, capturing the hearts and taste buds of chocolate enthusiasts worldwide. Among them, the top 5 Vietnamese chocolate brands shine brilliantly, celebrated for their unwavering commitment to excellence, sustainability, and their artful embodiment of the unique flavors found within the best cacao of southern Vietnam. From the meticulous artistry of bean-to-bar artisans to the advocates of organic and ethically-sourced practices, each of these brands offers an enchanting odyssey through Vietnam’s opulent chocolate heritage. Let us embark on an exploration of these extraordinary chocolatiers, where their narratives intertwine with the distinctive confections they proudly present.

1. Maison Marou

Maison Marou, founded in 2011, is a pioneering artisanal chocolate maker in Asia, using locally sourced Vietnamese cacao grown in six southern provinces. The brand showcases Vietnam’s diverse cacao beans, offering delectable chocolate bars and a culinary concept including a cafe, patisserie, and chocolate factory.

Presently, Maison Marou, the celebrated Vietnam Chocolate House, extends its warm embrace with charming establishments in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Their aspirations, however, stretch far beyond, envisioning the global dissemination of their small-batch, artisanal treasures, rendering them accessible to connoisseurs of chocolate across the globe. Maison Marou’s exquisite offerings, thoughtfully encased in captivating packaging, are an homage to the essence of Vietnamese cacao, endearing them to the hearts of locals and wanderers alike. With its captivating allure, Maison Marou has etched itself as a cherished emblem within the tapestry of Vietnam’s chocolate renaissance.

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Maison Marou
Maison Marou is using locally sourced Vietnamese cacao grown in six southern provinces. // Photo courtesy of Maison Marou

2. The Cocoa Project

The Cocoa Project, co-founded by Khanh-Linh, a former consultant turned chocolate entrepreneur, is a unique endeavor with a clear mission – to cultivate a chocolate culture in Vietnam. Rather than solely focusing on promoting chocolate of Vietnam globally, The Cocoa Project has a special emphasis on making chocolate products, flavors, and tastes that resonate with the local Vietnamese community. Their innovative range includes Cashew covered in Dark Chocolate, Longan dark chocolate, Spicy peanut white chocolate, and Lime basil white chocolate Mousse cake, among others.

Through their exquisite creations, The Cocoa Project is dedicated to both celebrating Vietnam’s chocolate culture and supporting its small farmers, embracing a sustainable concept that values quality over quantity. Their resonant tagline, “chocolate for everyone,” encapsulates their commitment to making these artisanal delights accessible to all corners of Vietnam, fostering a sense of pride, appreciation, and community while emphasizing the charm of small-batch craftsmanship.

cocoa project event
The Cocoa Project is a unique endeavor with a clear mission – to cultivate a chocolate culture in Vietnam. // Photo courtesy of The Cocoa Project

3. Belvie Chocolate

Belvie is a homemade artisan chocolate brand founded by Belgian Marc Vanborren and partner Jannie Ha Tran in Vietnam. Their ‘tree-to-bar’ approach uses fine trinitario cacao beans sourced directly from local Vietnamese planters, supporting the local economy. Belvie Chocolate’s mission is to make high-quality tree-to-bar, bean-to-bar chocolate using only cacao beans, cane sugar, and cacao butter from the same origin, without the use of soy or any other lecithin. Stone grinding and conching create small-batch chocolates of the highest quality, earning them global chocolate awards.

Belvie preserves cacao trees using husks as fertilizer and ensures fair prices for farmers. Their signature flavors, Tien Giang 70% Cacao and Ca-phe sua da Milk Chocolate, showcase excellence and sustainability in Vietnamese chocolate-making.

belvie
Belvie is a homemade artisan chocolate brand founded by Belgian Marc Vanborren and partner Jannie Ha Tran in Vietnam.

4. Stone Hill

Stone Hill, a pioneering tree-to-bar chocolate maker in Vietnam, operates quietly in a quaint store in District 1. They grow their own cacao beans on their own farm in Dong Nai, ensuring exceptional quality and flavor control. With over 50 cacao varieties, including rare Trinitario and Forastero blends, they hold the largest private cacao collection in Vietnam.

Stone Hill’s innovative approach to pest prevention involves nurturing ant colonies on their cacao trees, creating a natural defense against pests like Helopeltis. Their commitment to sustainability and ethical practices makes Stone Hill a hidden gem, offering unique and delicious chocolate that stand out in the world of Vietnamese chocolate.

stone hill
Stone Hill, a pioneering tree-to-bar chocolate maker in Vietnam. // Photo courtesy of Stone Hill

5. Legendary Chocolatier

Legendary Chocolatier is a Vietnamese bean-to-bar chocolatier that sources its cacao beans from various farms and provinces. Their diverse collection includes fruit and nut chocolate bars, flower and nut chocolate with delicate floral notes, and dragees and truffles with Asian ingredients, supporting Vietnamese farmers.

Legendary Chocolatier, a 2016 Cacao Trace program member, supports the Next Generation Cacao Foundation in Vietnam, focusing on cacao farmers’ support. Their community-driven approach and commitment to chocolate-making make them a prominent player in the Vietnamese chocolate industry.

Legendary Chocolatier
Legendary Chocolatier is a Vietnamese bean-to-bar chocolatier that sources its cacao beans from various farms and provinces. // Photo courtesy of Legendary Chocolatier

Chocolate Tourism In Vietnam

In recent years, Vietnam has witnessed a rise in chocolate tourism, attracting travelers, especially chocolate lovers from all over the world who seek to indulge in the country’s delectable chocolate offerings. New chocolate tourism offers visitors to experience Vietnamese chocolate production’s rich flavors and cultural nuances.
For those eager to immerse themselves in the world of Vietnamese chocolate, a range of chocolate-related tours, workshops, and experiences are available throughout the country. Tour operators and chocolate makers have crafted unique itineraries, allowing visitors to trace the journey of cacao beans from the farms to the finished product.

Maison Marou Chocolate Tasting Class

Maison Marou hosts Chocolate Tasting classes every Saturday at 3 pm in their flagship stores in Saigon and Hanoi. These classes are open to all ages and require no reservations. Attendees learn about Marou’s bean-to-bar process and unique terroir dark chocolate making. Free samples are provided to explore diverse flavors, making the experience enjoyable and educational for all.

maison marou class
Maison Marou hosts Chocolate Tasting classes every Saturday at 3 pm in their flagship stores in Saigon and Hanoi. // Photo courtesy of Maison Marou

The Cacao Project’s Free Chocolate Tasting Class

The Cacao Project hosts a Free Chocolate Tasting Class once a month depending on their schedule. Participants can sample various chocolate tablets, including Chewy Banana Dark Chocolate, Cacao Nibs White Chocolate, and Dark Chocolate 60 Days. They also offer two exclusive, never-before-published chocolates. Drawing inspiration from chocolate and Vietnamese culture, the Cacao Project aims to provide the best options for the local community.

The Cacao Project class
The Cacao Project hosts a Free Chocolate Tasting Class once a month depending on their schedule. // Photo courtesy by The Cacao Project

Conclusion

In conclusion, delving into the world of Vietnamese chocolate offers a delectable journey filled with unique flavors, rich cultural influences, and a commitment to sustainability. Let this sweet treat transport you to a realm of taste and tradition, celebrating the wonders of Vietnamese chocolate!

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Tiffany Hoang
Brand Representative - Vietnam Is Awesome