July 2020 - Tribal Chocolate has officially launched offering dairy-free, single origin dark hot chocolate infused with fruits, herbs and spices delivered to your door, ready to drink. Sparked by founder, Ainsley Pope's frustration at not being able to find a quality hot chocolate, Tribal Chocolate was initially a personal hot drink solution that soon grew to be a hobby and is now a commercial reality. Not afraid of hard work, founder Ainsley said the creation of Tribal Chocolate was only possible with the support of a huge number of believers, taste-testers, business and chocolate mentors and fellow experimenters. "It takes a tribe to breathe life into something like this, and I'm so grateful to everyone who has helped me stir things up over the years so I could create this little hot drink revolution".
Meet the makers
Tribal Chocolate is the proud supporter of Australia's small craft chocolate scene. At the moment only 31 registered bean to bar crafters are
making a mighty effort in stirring things up in Australia with quality chocolate experiences, committed to enhancing palates and raising the profile of cocoa growing communities.
These include Master ChocolatierJessica Pedemont of @southpacificcocoa also known as the @chocolateartisan, and Luke Spencer of @spencercocoa who are making waves using South Pacific beans from Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Bouganville. You can find their chocolate in Tribal Chocolate's mixes.
The fledgling craft industry is also supported by craft chocolate evangelists like Chris and Allison of Bean Bar You - founders of Australia's original chocolate subscription box delivering nationwide - there's hope the fledgling craft industry will sustain itself for a long time yet.
The ritual of tasting hot chocolate
Tasting hot chocolate is much like wine tasting. First look at the colour and then move it around the cup. As you do, particles will release and your olfactory (smell) senses will kick in. It's been suggested chocolate increases theta brainwaves, which trigger relaxation. So, inhale deeply, slowly (and carefully!), then take a small, delicate sip. Let the chocolate wash over every inch of your tongue and reach every taste bud. What you'll detect next is its consistency - is it a bit gritty, silky smooth, zingy and tangy or deep and warm?
If you're looking for food pairings to match, think roast meats, root vegetables or ginger snaps and other foods that offer crunch. At Tribal Chocolate we enjoy a mint hot chocolate after dinner as a chaser to a sumptuous dinner that was served with red wine.
It's true - chocolate does have health benefits
The wonderful world of chocolate begins its journey on the Theobroma Cacao tree, part of the Sterculiaceae family. It's a small, evergreen plant located in some 30 countries roughly 20 degrees north and south of the equator where it has a hot, humid environment to flourish. The cacao beans we often talk about are actually the seeds of the tree found in fruit pods, imbedded in a whitish pulp. It’s almost like they're cocooned and held in suspension before revealing their charms to the world. The beans themselves have a thin shell to protect a dark, dense bean inside that is easily crumbled into nibs.
Tribal Chocolate founder Ainsley Pope says she's eaten cocoa beans as they are - thin weird shell and all - for years and found many personal health benefits ranging from sustained energy (low GI) to a good stress-reliever and a muscle relaxant due to its high magnesium levels. The beans also have insulin management properties due to their chromium content, and cell support in their potassium properties.
But most of all it’s the antioxidant magic that is the hero of these little odd-looking morsels. Touted as better than berries, red wine and even cruciferous greens, cacao beans have a mix of phytochemicals, phenylethylamine and anandamides that fight toxins and balances the body. Contrary to popular belief, cacao beans (not milk chocolate) have shown to balance moods and stabilise energy levels.
So what is the best chocolate to get your fix without overdoing it? The higher the chocolate percentage the better. Look for 60%+ and you’re on the right track, though there's still loads of sugar (start at 25% of product vs 85% for dairy milk products). If you choose 70%+ you drop the sugar level to just over 15% (this is because the less sugar used, the more cacao butter is required – still high fat content, but less sugar content). With 80%+ there is very little sugar, used to balance flavours than add flavours. At 100% you're almost eating the bean straight and getting maximum nutritional benefit.
Does this convince you that dark chocolate is the way to go?
Stirring things up
Many people ask why Tribal Chocolate doesn't offer a take- home dry product. Well, in short because people would add sugar and milk and all the things that take away from the goodness that makes Tribal Chocolate a little healthy revolution. Ninety per cent of our experience are the infusions used to nourish your mind, body and soul. The other 10% is educating about chocolate, its benefits (and yes, its limitations) and its origins. Our aim is to stir things up in the way people enjoy and understand chocolate - one hot chocolate at a time.
That's not to say we won't ever offer make-at-home hot chocolate. It's just for now we're having too much fun making people's days delivering hot chocolate to their door, ready to drink.