A word from our chocolate maker – Joanna Fuentes
I could say I started exploring chocolate making a few years ago, but in reality, it all started back in my teenager years when I tried my first attempts to produce chocolate confections. At the time, with no training or proper tools (back in time there was no internet) the results were, as you can imagine, far from good. So, I quit the idea of making chocolate and just devoted my energy to the eating part.
Years later, I started a semi vegan diet mainly to avoid dairy products and it was very difficult to find high quality plant-based milk chocolate. On top of that, if I wanted to stay away from refined sugars and preservatives, the task of finding the ideal chocolate was a real challenge. The few options available were hard to find and quite pricy.
So, out of need, I thought: ‘If I can’t get the chocolates I want, then I’ll have to start making them’
And there, the Allegretto adventure began.
I visited a Cacao Plantation in Ecuador and it was inspiring to see the cacao trees. I learned how farmers harvest and ferment the beans that are the main ingredient for chocolates. Around 2018 I started exploring methods to make chocolate bars based on online videos. I did many trial and error batches for Dark and Milk (vegan) bars. I acquired some baseline equipment (1 grinder, 5 molds) and results were acceptable. A year later, after experimentation I found the formulations I wanted but the process was still very manual, too artesian, and finishing a batch demanded a long time.
In 2020 I shared some chocolate bars with family and friends and weeks later a couple of them asked me where to buy more. I didn’t have the idea of selling my chocolates but since the input came from different people, that kept me thinking. Even non-vegan friends were very happy with my vegan milk bars. What if someday I can scale up and make my chocolates available to more people?
The idea stuck in my mind and in 2020/2021 during the pandemic, where we had plenty of time to stay at home, it was a good opportunity to start taking this more seriously. I completed my professional chocolate making training to produce a delicious bar from scratch, from the cacao bean. I acquired more equipment, implemented good manufacturing practices, got specialized packing, and developed the Allegretto collection of chocolate bars.
During all this process I discovered a new way to enjoy chocolate and it is my intention to share with you all my learnings and my artisan, made-with-passion, chocolates bars.