Fruit of the gods. Worth it’s weight in gold. Seriously, who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate now and then… or, everyday like me?
Meet my friend Frank (pictured above on the left), a young man from Venezuela who’s made a new second home in Sydney. Our connection started on LinkedIn and, a few messages later, we had a business meeting to discuss our common passion: chocolate.
From being on the cacao plantations, harvesting, eating and handling the fruit raw, the conversation was electric. It was great to meet someone just as passionate as me, if not more so in his own special way about chocolate. Now, he is sharing more of his world, educating fellow Aussies about his “black gold”.
Australia has come a long way in the world of chocolate. There is now a lot more available to consumers and they have improved their understanding of how to handle it. We haven’t had a lot of options at times, compared to some other countries.
To have access to custom processing here in Australia is practically unheard of, and the idea we can have very small batches of chocolate made up from 5kg up to 500kg is incredible! When we refer to custom batches, we are talking about having your own recipe made, where you choose the percentage of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, the sugar, vanilla and milk and so on. Other choice ingredients could also be added for flavouring.
It’s great to see these types of options in Australia. When you think about it, 10 years ago, coco nibs were an imported specialty ingredient. Now, we can find them in local supermarkets throughout the country. Amazing!
Black Gold Cacao offers a number of quality, innovative products, including premium drinking chocolate, which is used in many Australian cafés to make ice chocolates, hot chocolates, mochas and cappuccinos. There is also raw cacao powder, natural cacao butter, premium dark chocolate coverture and cacao nibs. To find out more about Black Gold Cacao, visit the website: www.blackgoldcacao.com.au.
I caught up with Frank to give you a bit of insight into his incredible story.
Jess: Why did you start Black Gold Cacao?
Frank: I grew up in a small town in Venezuela in a beautiful tropical environment where everything grows really well. The soil is rich and, even in the middle of the city, there are huge mango trees. No one in my hometown goes hungry. My family grows and harvests cacao so it was something I always knew. I moved to Sydney in 2007 and for the first few years I have had many jobs, including working at a pet shop, surf shop, bike store, pizza restaurant, in construction, as a driver for a professional poker player and lots more. I went on a trip to Venezuela to visit my family one year and I spoke with my father about bringing cacao to Australia. He inspired me to take the next step and the story continued. I have always loved cacao and I always will. Who doesn’t like chocolate?
Jess: What inspires you within the industry?
Frank: I am inspired by the people, my customers. I love seeing their smiling faces when their new batch of chocolate arrives. It is great to hear about how their customers love our chocolate too.
Jess: Is it a very competitive market?
Frank: Cacao is becoming more popular with trends in health and fitness so there have been new companies on the market offering cacao products, making the space more competitive.
Jess: Do you have a treasured recipe you could share with our readers?
Frank: My fiancée likes to experiment with healthy food recipes in the kitchen and she came up with these tasty little snack.
Coquitos de Chocolate (little chocolate coconuts)
• 4-6 dates very finely chopped
• 1½ tbsp Black and Gold raw cacao powder
• 1 tbsp almond butter
• ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
• 1 cup desiccated coconut
Mix all the ingredients together. Form little balls and place them on a tray lined with baking paper. Place them into the freezer for around 10 minutes to set and they’re ready to eat. They can be kept in the fridge.
Jess: What would you like to see improve in the world of chocolate?
Frank: I think everyone in cacao needs to feel the benefits of being a part of the industry, from the farmer to the retailer. This equality has been improving and continues to improve, which is good. We work directly with the farmers and we ensure the farmers, their families and their environment receives the best treatment.
Jess: Why did you set up in Sydney, out of all places in the world?
Frank: I wanted to move from Venezuela to somewhere that was also close to beautiful beaches and close to the city, but also somewhere that seemed peaceful and safe to live. Part of the reason why I started to bring cacao to Australia was for the café culture, which is getting more and more refined. People are looking for top quality products and lots of baristas and café customers along the east coast of Australia think Black Gold Cacao is the best tasting drinking chocolate in the market. Our cacao is shipped all over the world and Sydney is a great place to live so it’s also a great place for our headquarters!