UK company develops cocao-free chocolate alternati...

UK company develops cocao-free chocolate alternative

UK start-up company WNWN (Waste Not Want Not) Food Labs has developed a new type of chocolate which is vegan, free from cacao, palm oil, caffeine and added sugars.

Its first batch of ‘alt choc’, which looks, smells and tastes like regular chocolate with 80 per cent fewer CO2 emissions, sold out quickly after launching in Cambridge on May 18.

Ahrum Pak and Dr Johnny Drain are the brains behind the operation, and promise their product tastes like the real thing, without the ethical issues that often pervade the cacao industry, like environmental harm and labour abuse.

Dr Drain told The Spoon, “Our approach is rooted in traditional fermentation techniques.  We use a suite of microbes and a process that is not too dissimilar to how a baker might work or how a winemaker would work.”

Using a substrate (in this case, British Barley) combined with carob and an assortment of microbes to produce a brown paste, WNWN’s (pronounced ‘win-win’) skips the shelling and roasting process of traditional chocolate making. The paste then goes through a process similar to chocolate-making, which includes running the paste through a melanger machine and placing the finished product into individual moulds.

“We are in a golden age of food science,” Dr Drain said.

“We’re just starting to break down what is in a bar of chocolate to characterize it and create a chemical fingerprint. We explored how we end up getting a chocolate flavour profile that is in a cocoa bean.”

Of course, without cacao there is no cocoa butter. Instead, the start-up uses shea fat sourced from Ghana, with an aim to create long-lasting relationships with local farmers.

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