Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti Cocoa

There’s a new kid on the block in the Winnipeg chocolate scene. Aschenti Cocoa had its Grand Opening on December 17, 2016, and introduced itself as the only chocolate maker in Manitoba to grow its own cocoa. Aschenti Cocoa is a tree to bar company, meaning that they grow the cocoa, supervise the stages of its production and make the end product: delicious bean-to-bar organic chocolate bars.

winnipeg-chocolate

Aschenti Cocoa located at 782 Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg makes a variety of handcrafted artisanal chocolate bars and is the newest addition to the Winnipeg chocolate scene.

winnipeg-chocolate

Christian and Christelle Mekoh are the owners of Aschenti Cocoa in Winnipeg.

Owned by Christian Mekoh and his wife Fanny Christelle, Aschenti Cocoa grows its own cocoa in the Mekohs’ homeland of Cameroon, the West African central coastal nation situated east of Nigeria along the Gulf of Guinea. Cameroon is the fifth largest producer of cocoa in the world, registering 275,000 metric tonnes of cocoa grown in the country’s coastal region in 2013.

Research reveals that Cameroon is a politically stable country and despite the fact that 70% of its residents are farmers, Cameroon boasts a a good literacy rate of 75%. Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa at about 90% and many other countries have a much lower literacy rate as low as just over 20%.

Christian Mekoh assures me that although child labour may have been an issue in Cameroon in previous years, he only deals with cocoa farmers who have the best ethical and farming practices, and no child labour is tolerated among the Aschenti family of cocoa growers.

winnipeg-chocolate

Christian Mekoh shows us a Trinitario cocoa pod in his shop at Aschenti Cocoa in Winnipeg.

aschenti-cocoa

The cocoa beans are grown in Cameroon, where they are harvested, fermented, and dried before being shipped to Canada by air.

winnipeg chocolate now includes farm-to-bar chocolate made from cocoa grown in cameroon

Aschenti grows only Criollo and Trinitario cacao and takes great pride in its Porcelana bars made from the finest quality white Criollo beans. You will find a large range of bars offered on the Aschenti site, but are likely to only find a small number of them available in the shop at any given time as the company ramps up production. I tasted the 42% milk chocolate bar and really enjoyed its creaminess without sweetness. I also enjoyed the 64% dark chocolate bar. I found the 72% bar to be slightly bitter for my palate, but will try it again, as our taste buds differ from day to day and I always believe in tasting any given chocolate more than once. I’m really looking forward to tasting the 100% Porcelana bar and the Porcelana bar featuring Cameroon-grown Soya peppers.

It’s so exciting for Winnipeg to have a shop like Aschenti Cocoa, where you can see real cocoa beans being made into chocolate right before your eyes. The Aschenti shop at 782 Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg features a full glass wall where you can see the different types of equipment in use during the different stages of chocolate production. There is also an overhead television where Christian runs the video of him on the cocoa farm with the farmers. If you’re in the Winnipeg area, do drop in and have a taste of Aschenti chocolate. You will soon be able to also order online via their website.

winnipeg-chocolate

I really loved the mocha cupcake at Cocoabeans Bakeshop featuring coffee beans from Manitoba-based Greenbean Coffee Imports. Everything at Cocoabeans is gluten free and delicious.

And while you’re on Corydon Avenue, take the time to enjoy the many other shops and restaurants. Just two doors down from Aschenti is Cocoabeans Bakeshop and Cafe where you will find some excellent offerings featuring chocolate.

If you are visiting Manitoba and want to further explore the world of Winnipeg chocolate, pop over the bridge to Saint Boniface where you’ll find Chocolatier Constance Popp, or Sherbrook Street in the West Broadway neighbourhood where you’ll find Decadence Chocolates. Each offers high quality handmade chocolates as well as a small selection of bean-to-bar single origin chocolate bars.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

51 Responses

  1. Sounds wonderful. There’s nothing like that in my end of the country!

  2. TammyJo Eckhart
    Twitter:
    says:

    Excellent coverage of several important issues in this article, Doreen. Thank you for asking about child labor and looking into the facts about Cameroon for us.
    TammyJo Eckhart recently posted…Desserts for National Card Playing DayMy Profile

    • You’re very welcome, TammyJo. It is very encouraging to see that the African countries in which child labour was a real issue have truly begun to change things around. Definitely on the small producer side it is easier to control, as in the case of Aschenti, they are growing most of the cacao that they are using to produce their cocoa, and are buying the rest from farmers that they know. All the best for you in 2017.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti CocoaMy Profile

  3. Interesting: plant to bar. And the child labor exclusion…that was great…thanks
    Marvin Dittfurth recently posted…The Cable in the DirtMy Profile

  4. Trendisoft says:

    That’s a real gift for Winnipeg City to have Achenti Cocoa opening!
    Enjoy the real chocolate from natural beans.

    Doreen Pendgracs did a great job covering this chocolate factory venture in Winnipeg!

  5. Catarina says:

    Would be really good if more chocolate makers start growing their own cocoa in Africa. Will be interesting to see if that’s a new trend.
    Catarina recently posted…Holiday Reading: Balance and harmony through the artsMy Profile

    • Hi Catarina and thanks for your comment. I do indeed think this is a trend that is slowly sweeping the continent of Africa. I know that there are chocolate makers in Madagascar who are making chocolate with locally grown beans, and the same in Sao Tome. All the best to you in 2017, and thanks for being a frequent commenter on this blog.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti CocoaMy Profile

  6. Frances says:

    Great article! I am so interested in “farm to table / bar” businesses. I will definitely make a visit on my next trip to Winnipeg!

  7. Mar Pages
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is just such an amazing story. I love that they grow their own beans in Cameroon and then bring them through to sell in Manitoba. Bean-to-bar organic chocolate is most definitely the best kind in my books, because then the farmers get the cut they they deserve – no middleman or cheap (child) labour. Looking forward to their online store popping up.

  8. Wendy Peck says:

    This is a timely article, Doreen. My grandson is in town this week, and I’m adding this to our stops. I love showing him behind-the-scenes on anything, and chocolate is one he is sure to care about. He is nine now, and Wow! is getting harder to find. Thanks for keeping us aware of what is happening on the Winnipeg chocolate scene.

  9. Pat says:

    Will be adding their shop on my next to see list when we come back for a visit. Great location for them!

  10. That is cool. Good to see a West African country associated with best practices when it comes to cacao cultivation. Maybe it’ll put some pressure on the big guys. I hope to visit the shop with you one day.

    • Thanks for your comment, Virginia. I believe the large chocolate companies like Nestle, Cadbury and Mars have already made a significant effort to eliminate the child labour practices once the situation made its way into mainstream media. But small growers and chocolate companies like Aschenti have a much better chance of making sure that they are dealing only with farms that use ethical and environmentally friendly practices. Plus, it eliminates the middle man, so more money goes directly to the farmers and less to unethical go-betweens.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti CocoaMy Profile

  11. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    With all the chocolate I have eaten over the Christmas period, I would still make room for this!

    I find with luxurious chocolate that you only need a few squares/bites as it is so rich.

    It must be amazing visiting so many countries.

  12. Linda Strange says:

    Wow ! This means here in Osborne Village, that all 3 of the chocolatiers you mention are within a very few minutes drive from me . So glad you asked about the child-labour practices as they are a real sticking point for the cacao producing industry.Thanks so much, Doreen.

  13. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    At first i thought you meant Aschenti Cocoa grows its own cocoa in Manitoba. I was wondering how that would ever work. lol Nice to hear they grow their own cocoa in Africa and concern themselves with the child labor. I’m with you on the tasting any chocolate more than once….but i think maybe four or five times. lol Never met a chocolate i didn’t like. 🙂

  14. Beverly says:

    Manitoba has more and more to boast about surrounding chocolate. I would love to visit all the shops you mentioned in your article. Thanks for keeping us informed about the chocolate scene in Winnipeg.

  15. Hi Susan. When you eat as much chocolate as I do for my work, you definitely do encounter some that’s not as good as others. I honestly cannot eat chocolate candy anymore as I find it much too sweet.

    Regarding the growing of cocoa, it can only be grown 20 degrees north or south of the equator (give or take a few degrees). We’re sitting at about 49 degrees here in Winnipeg, so cocoa wouldn’t have a chance in surviving our climate.

    Happy New Year to you, and may 2017 offer you much great chocolate and wine.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti CocoaMy Profile

  16. neha
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love cocoa and those delicious cocoa made stuff – all of them 🙂 Was interesting to read this story of where some of them come from and how 🙂
    neha recently posted…10 must do in Rajasthan that we missedMy Profile

  17. Wow, would love to try these. As for the other chocolate places, I wish I had known about them when I was living in Winnipeg last year. Guess I’ll have to come back 🙂

    • Hi Matthew and thanks for your comment. Up until last year, Constance Popp was the only Winnipeg-based chocolate shop. Decadence and Aschenti both opened in 2016. The future for chocolate lovers in Manitoba is now looking very bright! Lots of positive changes in Winnipeg. Have you been to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights?
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti CocoaMy Profile

  18. Sushmita
    Twitter:
    says:

    Own grown cocoa lovely ya! Loved the cupcakes although these days every day is about chocolate and loving it 🙂
    Sushmita recently posted…Sharing the Lessons, I learned in the past few years!My Profile

  19. Aack, I did it again. Read one of your blog posts without having some snacks on hand for the eventual chocolate cravings that occur during and immediately after your posts.

    Interesting facts about Cameron and Zimbabwe. Wonder why the literary rate is so high in both those places?

  20. I am so glad to hear that the farmers are starting to get the cut they deserve instead of the majority of the profit going to the greedy, unethical middlemen. Chocolate companies like Aschenti provide a good incentive for the farmers to be ethical and avoid child labor. This makes me want to buy chocolate from them rather than from the big corporations.

  21. Mimi
    Twitter:
    says:

    It is so great to hear that the farmers get what they should get! Great initiative from Aschenti. These are the types of companies that people should support.
    Mimi recently posted…Beautiful concept store in Dubai @ Comptoir 102My Profile

  22. I would of never guessed Cameroon as a cacao producer. It makes sense when you think about it, but I would not of thought of it before.
    I often wonder, if temperature outside (even during transportation), atmospheric pressure (say from altitude) has an effect on chocolate making?
    William Rusho recently posted…2016 a Look Back: Medieval/Renaissance FairesMy Profile

    • Very interesting question, William. Most cocoa beans are transported by large freighters. Amsterdam is the largest cocoa port in the world! Aschenti is the first company I’ve known that is using aircraft to transport their beans. I will look into that and see if anyone has done a study on what types of conditions will affect flavour, and if so, how. Happy New Year to you!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Winnipeg welcomes Aschenti CocoaMy Profile

  23. I love reading stories like this–where you can trace the product from source to taste buds. Sounds like one more reason to journey to Winnipeg!

  24. How wonderful to have this new place. The story of the owners is as interesting as the story of the place, and all of its delectables. Thanks for the tour of the area, too. Looks like you have some great places for chocolate goodies!

    • We do indeed, Christine. 2016 was a transformative year in which Winnipeg went from being a city with just one artisan chocolatier and a chocolate confectioner, to a noteworthy chocolate destination with a number of worthwhile stops.

  25. Donald McKenzie
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great article Doreen. So far I’ve only had a chance to try their chocolate at #LoveLocalMB. I really enjoyed it, and am hoping to get down to their store on Corydon soon.

  26. “Beans to Bars” – What perfect way to control the quality of ingredients. My mouth was watering as I gazed at those delectable cupcakes! You are fortunate to have their new shop so close to you. Word of mouth and lovely posts like this truly help new businesses.
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted…An Invitation to an Italian Cooking School ~ Tuscan Women CookMy Profile

  27. Brenda TIATI
    Twitter:
    says:

    My sis and husband did a great job with the sharing of the making of Chocolate from the seeds to the mouth 🙂
    I had the pleasure to taste and that’s refreshening. You can taste the natural coffee mixed up with other natural products like vanilla or Boyo coffee.
    Will taste more when I’ll drop by in Winnipeg!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge