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Phl artisan chocolate bags bronze in London

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos have long enjoyed champorado, or sweet chocolate rice porridge, as their breakfast or merienda staples. This time, though, it’s not Philippine cuisine that the world has taken notice of – but the country’s distinct cocoa.

Chocolate grown from bean and made into bars in the southern Philippines recently gained international attention, as it received recognition from the prestigious 2015 Academy of Chocolates Awards.

The Malagos 100-percent Premium Unsweetened Chocolate, produced in Davao by a family-run company, bagged the country’s first chocolate award after it received bronze for the Best Unflavored Drinking Chocolate in ceremonies held in London last April 23.

“This goes to show that our base chocolate (cocoa liquor) can compete side by side with other chocolates around the world,” said chocolate maker Rex Puentespina.

“This award validates the quality of beans and chocolates we have been producing the past two years,” he added.

The Puentespina family, who runs Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp., ventured into the production of single-origin cocoa liquor in 2012, while also running a Bureau of Plant Industry-certified cacao nursery.

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The award-winning Malagos unsweetened chocolate was one of the company’s first products.

Single-origin chocolate refers to chocolate made from one variety of cacao beans from a particular country or region. A single-origin chocolate is said to reflect in its taste the soil, climate and environment of where the beans were grown.

The Puentespina family grows cacao trees in Mount Talomo in Calinan, Davao City. Harvested beans, seedlings, seeds and scions are then supplied all over Mindanao.

“The beans we grow are considered fine flavor beans. These beans are manually harvested then fermented on the farm to further enhance naturally the complex flavor of cocoa,” explained Puentespina, Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp. sales and marketing director.

“We grow Trinitario clones, a cross between the Criollo and Forastero varieties, specifically and predominantly the UF 18, BR 25 and PBC 123 clones,” he added.

The company also produces other premium chocolate products, such as Malagos 65-percent Dark Chocolate, Malagos Roasted Cocoa Nibs and soon Malagos 56-percent and 72-percent Dark Chocolates, which are sold in select stores in the Philippines and are also distributed in Singapore, London, Australia and New York.

The cacao percentage would indicate the amount of pure cacao in the product.

Created in 2005, the Academy of Chocolate campaigns for better chocolate and promotes a greater awareness of the cocoa’s journey from bean to bar, which differentiates fine chocolate from mass-produced chocolate confectionery.

According to the Academy of Chocolate, there was a record number of over 500 entries from different parts of the world for this year’s awards. The jury was chaired by globally respected wine expert Charles Metcalfe and included chocolate experts and buyers, pastry chefs, food professionals and food journalists.

Aside from operating a cacao nursery, the Puentespina family also grows ornamental plants and cut flowers, produces cheese and runs a nature-themed resort in Davao.

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