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.
Cook Culture 1317 Blanshard St, Victoria, BC
Silk Road Tea 1624 Government St, Victoria, BC
Sea Cider 2487 Mt. St. Michael Rd. Saanichton, BC
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub 308 Catherine Street, Victoria, BC
Ottavio Italian Bakery and Delicatessen 2272 Oak Bay Ave, Victoria, BC
Fairfield Market 1275 Oscar St, Victoria, BC
Papery 669 Fort St, Victoria, BC
Bows & Arrows Coffee Roasters 483 Garbally Rd, Victoria, BC
Preservation Foods Chocolate Project The Victoria Public Market, 1701 Douglas St, Victoria, BC
Mother Nature’s Market 240 Cook St, Victoria, BC
The Market on Yates 903 Yates Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3M4
Just Matcha 2021 Oak Bay Ave, Victoria, BC
Niagara Grocer 579 Niagara St, Victoria, BC
Dig This 9813 Third St, Sidney, BC
Hey Happy Coffee 560 Johnson St Victoria BC
For Good Measure 3831 Cadboro Bay Rd, Victoria, BC
Health Essentials #101-300 Gorge Road West, Victoria, BC
Xoxolat 1271 Homer St, Vancouver, BC
Cook Works 1548 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Cook Works 377 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC
Cook Works 1230 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, BC
Bump n Grind Cafe 916 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC
Bump n Grind Cafe 3010 Granville St, Vancouver, BC
33 Acres Brewing Company 15 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC
Charlie and Lee 223 Union St, Vancouver, BC
3 Singing Birds 4340 Lorimer Rd, Whistler, BC
La Tablette 838 av. du Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, QC
Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois – La boutique 162 rue Saint-Viateur ouest, Montreal, QC
Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois – Le comptoir (Marché Atwater) 138 avenue Atwater, étal C-1, Montreal, QC
Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois – Le bar à Chocolat (Quartier DIX30) 9389 boul. Leduc Brossard, QC
The Deli 203 Hanson Street, Whitehorse, YT
JoJo CoCo 471 Hazeldean Road, Ottawa, Ont K2L 4B8
The Candy Bar 849 College Street, Toronto, Ontario
Our Daily Brett 2509 14th St. SW Calgary, Alberta
Alexis Templeton Studio 75 Quidi Vidi Road, St. John’s, Newfoundland
Farmshop 865 Market Street, Santa Monica, California
The Chocolate Garage 654 Gilman St, Palo Alto, California
The Chocolate Bar Kelburn, Wellington
If you aren’t near a store that carries the bars, you can order from us here. Select your bars from the offerings below and send us an email with your order. We will rush them off to you as soon as we are able!
Madagascar / Ecuador
Is it the yin? Or the yang? Either way, we believe in the dialectic of chocolate. Since great chocolate always begs the question, compared to what, we present the chocolate pairing. Two chocolate varietals for a singular experience.This package contains two dark chocolate bars: one 73% bar made with cocoa beans from the Somia Plantation in Madagascar, and one 73% bar made with cocoa beans from the Camino Verde Planatation in Ecuador.
Fleur de Sel
Andrew Shepherd’s Vancouver Island Salt Company uses pure seawater from Canada’s wild west coast to handcraft a range of artisanal salts. The Camino Verde is not far from the sea, which might explain why this chocolate marries so well with the essence of ocean waters. This package contains one 73% dark chocolate bar made with cocoa beans from the Camino Verde Plantation in Ecuador with fleur de sel mixed in for a delicious salty crunch.
Let’s be clear: This is not milk chocolate, it is dark chocolate with milk added as a seasoning. So, while the milk adds a delicious creamy texture, it is the beans that steal the show — the Guatemalan with a maple-caramel finish and the Madagascan with overtones of raspberries and cream. This bar was the 1st Prize winner at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle in 2015
Cacao Verapaz, Guatemala 73%
In the lush, mountainous department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala a heritage tracing back to cacao’s origin in the Mayan civilization go into the cultivation of these cacao trees. The indigenous Q’eqchi Maya farmers produce a magnificent bean. This bar was originally created as a custom bar for The Chocolate Garage in Palo Alto, CA. It went on to win a silver medal at the International Chocolate Awards in the Americas competition.
Not for the faint of heart or the chocolate tourist, this is the pure bean in bar form. And nothing else. No sugar. No flavouring. Nothing to interfere with the rich flavours inherent in the beans themselves. Cross this line and you may just find yourself in chocolate nirvana. This package contains bars made with beans, and nothing else, from both Somia Plantation in Madagascar and the Camino Verde Plantation in Ecuador.
Under the canopy of Bolivia’s dark and humid Amazon River basin grows a wild cacao bean. Intrepid harvesters travel via boats, canoes, motorcycles and trucks over both land and water to access this rare bean. A pilgrimage well worth the effort for a unique cacao with subtle fruity flavours and just a hint of the feral.
The flavour notes of this Akesson Plantation bean are brought out by the crunchy fleur de sel, then enhanced with the heat of cayenne pepper. The fruity raspberry and lemon deliciousness of the Madagascan 73% chocolate combined with salt and heat.
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 18 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 their twin daughters serve as official chocolate samplers while they look forward to their first plantation visits.