Sirene Artisan Chocolate Makers hand craft small batches of direct trade chocolate in a custom chocolate workshop in Victoria, Canada. Our Bean-To-Bar technique is more art than science. We carefully source our beans from select farms and nurture each beautiful bean to its full chocolaty potential. We bring out the complex range of natural flavours inherent in each bean and transform it into the chocolate of your dreams. The universe is unfolding.
Sirene sources cocoa beans from farms in two countries: rich, deep chocolaty Ecuadorean beans and fruity, citrus, raspberry-toned Madagascar beans.
In Balao, Ecuador, farmer Vicente Norero treats his cacao beans like fine wine. After carefully nurturing the growth of his indigenous varieties of cacao trees, he harvests the beans and monitors the microbiology of the fermentation process. His exacting control of sugars and acids creates a rich and flavourful bean.
Vicente is a microbiologist by training and a perfectionist at heart. Near the Pacific Ocean yet protected by the Andes, the combination of this equatorial micro-climate and its “Franco Limoso” (very porous) soil creates a unique growing environment for beans. The Camino Verde farm was started about nine years ago after intensive and loving rehabilitation of the farm’s land and trees. What ends up becoming the branded “Camino Verde” cacao is a very strict selection of only the best varietals and trees on the farm. Though not certified organic, the trees are raised following organic techniques.
In the Sambirano Valley of Northern Madagascar, the Akesson family harvest a light red bean enriched with volcanic minerals and nutrients. With its strong fruity flavours, including hints of citrus and berry, this cacao is clearly a product of climate, soil and the special way it is fermented by a family who truly cares about chocolate and has for many years.
Somia is a mixed plantation with criollo, trinitario and forestero trees which in combination with the land, creates a distinctively flavoured bean. Each season, the natural cycle of flooding of the Sambirano River enriches the soil along the banks with highly enriched volcanic minerals and nutrients collected upstream. In part thanks to this rich natural fertilization with nutrients, the Akessons’ operation is certified organic.
Beautiful, delicious, luxurious. The universe is unfolding.
Sirene takes care to craft small batches of exquisite chocolate, from the raw ingredients through to the finished bar:
We get up close and personal with the cocoa beans and sort them by hand to remove flats, cracked beans and beans harmed by the machetes during harvest.
The beans are then roasted to loosen the shell, caramelize the sugars and begin the process of maximizing the inherent flavors in each bean.
After roasting and cooling the beans, the whole bean needs to be cracked to extract the flavourful heart of the bean called a nib.
Winnowing separates the papery shells from the cracked nibs. If left in, the shell can impart undesirable bitter and harsh flavours. These shells make great compost for gardeners or a delicate tea.
Next the whole bean is ground down to a very fine consistency. It is during this stage that pure cane sugar is introduced, the only additional ingredient in our single origin chocolate bars.
Conching eliminates any remaining impure flavours, and allows the subtle, unique flavours of each bean to shine. Friction and heat do the work.
Tempering is a finicky process that allows the chocolate to form the right crystal structure necessary to give it a smooth silky texture and have a nice snap when broken.
The last step is pouring the chocolate into molds, to be cooled and hardened before being wrapped and sent off to you for your enjoyment.
Yes, you have been eating solid foods since you were an infant…what can we tell you about this process that you don’t already know you ask? Well, if you want to fully appreciate all the subtle flavours, you need to eat fine chocolate differently than other foods. Some of the flavours are gentle ones that are lying delicately underneath the bolder ones. Some of the flavours are rich and complex. To reach them all in turn, put the chocolate on your tongue and let it melt. Don’t chomp into it (your teeth and cheeks don’t have taste buds!). As the chocolate melts the flavours will develop and evolve, and since it is sitting right on your tongue, you will taste all the possible flavours. Savour each flavour as it appears. Fruit, citrus, bitter, floral, leather, fudge, raisin and many more are all possible. The flavours can linger for a while too, so savour the taste long after the chocolate itself is melted and gone from your mouth.
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Taylor Kennedy, founder of Sirene Chocolate, has been a globetrotter for most of his life. He has worked with The National Geographic Society in photography, writing and photo editing for more than 15 years now. His work brought him to remote countries with rich agricultural heritage where he began to make the connection between food and the growing demand for ethically sourced products.
Toronto born, Kennedy received a double major in cell and molecular biology and economics from Tulane University in New Orleans and also studied finance at Cambridge University in England. He has resided in Toronto, Paris, Cambridge, New Orleans, Washington, and now calls Victoria home. With a life-long obsession of wanting to know how things work and why, Kennedy combined his business acumen, interest in sustainability, and love of food and the planet into Sirene Chocolate.
As a specialty chocolate maker, Taylor is able to oversee production from the cacao bean to the bars on the shelves and feel good about each of the steps along the way. And secretly, he wanted a way showing his young family the world through chocolate. Currently his wife and two-year old twin daughters serve as official chocolate samplers while they look forward to their first plantation visits.