We sit down with Victoria Espinosa, founder and owner of Xocao Chocolate, one of our favourite and stunning products from around the world.
The chocolate company has gone from strength to strength, transforming artisanal and bean-to-bar chocolate in the country and showcasing the quality of their native beans. Now, they celebrate their eleventh anniversary and look forward to a future where we come to appreciate the immense effort that goes into creating such a product.
Tell us about your chocolate and how you started.
I’m Mexican and I love my culture. I’m completely passionate about Mexico and about our culinary products, so it seemed only natural for me to create a product which celebrates this. It was very sad to see that in order to consume good quality chocolate in Mexico, it had to be European – everyone knows about Belgian chocolate… but I thought it was nonsense, Mexico has the best quality cocoa pods in the world and we should be appreciating them.
What was your background before creating the company?
I studied art history and I also studied on the Le Cordon Bleu, so I’m a pastry chef and I’m an art historian. Since I finished my college degree I was involved in contemporary art, but I wanted to do something more practical. I loved cooking and being in the kitchen. I didn’t know where to put my energy, but my father is a super chocolate lover and he always complained that he could not buy a good brand in Mexico. We had beans, we had knowledge, so I decided to do something competitive, and to make a super good quality chocolate brand in Mexico. I had a very good and strict judge – my father.
I’m Mexican and I love my culture. I’m completely passionate about Mexico and about our culinary products, so it seemed only natural for me to create a product which celebrates this.
How have you built the brand?
At the beginning it was difficult because Mexicans are not used to consuming Mexican chocolate. I think I managed to change people’s minds because I had really nice reviews and people really like my brand. Since then, more companies have started making good chocolate, and I think it’s good to have synergy, when one brand helps another one.
And what about the health benefits of Mexican cocoa?
Soconusco in Mexico has these amazing cocoa pods called Cacao El En Madera Blanca, and they’re totally genuine and unrivalled in their health benefits. Mexicans were the ones who first discovered these super benefits in the cocoa pods. For example, when warriors went to war with only cocoa nibs in their pocket and water, they could survive for 3 days without having any other food and they were full of energy.
Coco beans have a lot of qualities, and it’s awesome that now people are seeing this other face of chocolate. Before it was just seen as candy, but for me it’s the best gift you can give to your body, when you are consuming chocolate that is 100% chocolate. True chocolate has only 2 ingredients – cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Cocoa butter enriches the body in a similar way to avocado and olive oil, full of healthy fats. And the solids, you can name many, many qualities: it’s the best antioxidant, it helps with neuron connections, it’s just amazing. The big industries separate the butter from the solids and they sell the butter separately then many put palm oil sulfates and other chemicals in order to make chocolate. So you always have to read the labels on what you are having.
What about adding sugar though?
You can find “100% chocolate” made from just cocoa butter with cocoa solids, but it will not take away your cravings. Your brain doesn’t make the connection, so you need to have a little bit of sugar. It’s an “inverse table” – more sugar means a lower percentage of cocoa, and the less sugar your chocolate has, the healthier it is.
When warriors went to war with only cocoa nibs in their pocket and water, they could survive for 3 days without having any other food and they were full of energy.
I also have a 90% chocolate with all the cocoa from Tabasco field. I’ve developed another one with organic coconut sugar – it’s 80% organic cocoa and 20% organic coconut sugar. It’s the most bitter one, because coconut sugar is less strong, so you need more coconut sugar than cane sugar to make it sweet. This is my healthiest chocolate of all, it’s 100% organic and your body doesn’t retain the coconut sugar in the same way it does with refined sugars. It gives you energy but it doesn’t have bad features like cane sugar. I love this chocolate, it gives energy and gives something good to your body.
How do you choose the flavors?
In Mexico we have hundreds of varieties of chillies, it’s incredible. But my favorite is the chipotle one, I love the taste and I love the aftertaste, so I just had to make a chilly chipotle chocolate bar. Also, mole is a dish with rich Mexican heritage. One of the ingredients in mole is chocolate, so I took inspiration from it to decide which chilies I like to use for my chocolates. There are so many other chocolates where they put superfoods, vitamins and so on, but for me, I care the most about the taste, at the end it’s a treat. My goal is to create a super delicious chocolate.