By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The homegrown Malagos Chocolate won silver in the 2017 Academy of Chocolate Awards in London, the only one from Asia that bagged the prestigious award under the Plain Hot Chocolate Category.
The silver award for its 100 percent Unsweetened Chocolate is the fifth major international award of Malagos Agri-Venture, the maker of the fine chocolate.
The company is owned by the Puentespina family of Davao.
The other winners of the silver in the Academy of Chocolate Awards are Akesson’s Choc Drops Brazil 75% Cocoa Organic, Akesson’s Choc Drops Madagascar 100 percent Cocoa Organic, and UK’s The Chocolate Quarter Tetteh Drinking Chocolate.
Winners are judged by a panel of judges composed of international journalists, chefs, pastry chefs and experts in chocolate and food, who focus attention on the product’s appearance, depth of aroma, flavor, length and complexity.
In a statement, chocolate maker Rex Puentespina, director for sales and marketing of the Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp., attributed the win to the “hard work and dedication that the farmers put in the preparation of the cocoa bean before it even becomes chocolate.”
The Academy of Chocolate had awarded the company silver under Drinking Chocolate category for its unsweetened chocolate in 2016 and bronze under Best Unflavoured Drinking Chocolate in April 2015; the Great Taste Awards in London gave two out of three starts to Malagos unsweetened chocolate in 2016; and another silver for the Malagos Dark Chocolate won during World Drinking Chocolate Competition organized by the International Chocolate Awards in October 2015 in Hannover, Germany.
‘Tree to bar’
Puentespina said their “chocolates are tree-to-bar,” meaning the whole process of making the products – starting from planting, growing, fermentation, drying, sorting, roasting, and production –is done right at their farm in Calinan District.
The farm, certified by the Bureau of Plant Industry, runs a cacao nursery and supplies seedlings, seeds, and scions all-over Mindanao.
He said the tree-to-bar chocolates possess a more distinctive and pronounced taste as the chocolate can be traced to the unique characteristics of the cacao beans.
“We grow Trinitario clones, a cross between the Criollo and Forastero varieties, specifically and predominantly the UF 18, BR 25 and PBC 123 clones. The beans we grow are considered as fine flavor beans. These beans are manually harvested then fermented on the farm to further enhance naturally the complex flavor of cocoa,” he said.
The Puentespina family has been engaged in agriculture for more than three decades but it was only in 2012 when it ventured into chocolate business starting with premium single-origin cocoa liquor.