WHY WE ADMIRE ’57 CHOCOLATE
I first learned of and tasted ’57 Chocolate in 2018 at a tasting and book signing hosted by Lauren Adler of Chocolopolis for the release of Dr. Kristy Leissle’s book Cocoa. As an aside, if you have any interest in the cocoa and chocolate industry, this book is a MUST READ!
Dr. Leissle handcarried some ’57 Chocolate to share with our group. And while it shouldn’t be a novelty, it was very memorable for me because it was the first time I had ever tasted chocolate made in Ghana!
Ghana is the #2 cocoa growing nation, but most of their cocoa is exported to Europe and the Americas for the world’s biggest chocolate brands. Their bars and Adinkra tasting squares were a far cry from what I knew of Ghanaian cocoa. True to the descriptions you’ll read below, it is luxurious. No longer masked by sugar and industrial machines, this small batch chocolate has a bold, beautiful depth that matches the vision of its company founders.
Confession (for which I truly apologize): when I first heard the story of “two sisters,” I imagined See’s Candies, granny-types leaving a small, handcrafted chocolate legacy for the next generation. I did NOT picture young, dynamic, and powerful Priscilla and Kimberly Addison leading a company that, “challenges the status quo that premium chocolate can only be made in Europe.” After all, even the name speaks of strength and independence, “‘57 Chocolate is short for 1957, the year of Ghana’s independence.” So with admiration for an incredible vision and fabulous chocolate, I invite you to read their story in their own words…
HOW PRISCILLA & KIMBERLY WERE AND ARE EMPOWERED TO EMPOWER OTHERS
Parents Encouraged an “Impossible” Vision
There have been many individuals on our journey who have empowered us, believed in us and encouraged us to keep pursuing our vision. Our family, particularly our parents were very supportive from the beginning when ‘57 Chocolate was just an idea. When many people tried to discourage us from setting up this business because they thought it would be “impossible” to do so in Ghana, our parents encouraged us to keep pursuing our vision.
Powerful Apprenticeship for Kimberly
We would also like to mention Simon and Margie Doble, former chocolate makers of the [now closed] chocolate brand “Doble & Bignall”. Simon and Margie took Kimberly on as an apprentice, fully understanding our dream to transform the cocoa and chocolate sector in Ghana by starting up a chocolate manufacturing business. They shared their knowledge of making bean to bar chocolate with us and mentored us, wanting to have an impact on a cocoa-growing region. We are grateful that they were so open to sharing their knowledge and skills with us.
Akyaa - Our First Client
We would also like to mention our dear friend Akyaa who was our very first client and took the risk of letting us do her chocolate wedding favors. This set the ball rolling for us, as a lot of people got to know about us from either being guests at that wedding or through word of mouth from someone who attended the wedding.
From Empowered to Empowering
There are so many more people who we could mention who empowered us along the way, including our mentors in Switzerland, and many people who believed, and continue to believe in our vision and have shared our story!
We currently employ 8 people, most of whom are young Ghanaian women. We hope to continue to expand our team as the business grows to create more jobs for the youth.
ABOUT ’57 CHOCOLATE
Pioneering Luxury Ghanaian Chocolate
‘57 Chocolate is the first artisanal bean to bar chocolate manufacturer in Ghana producing luxury chocolate locally. It was founded in 2016 by two Ghanaian sisters (Kimberly and Priscilla) who wanted to show that quality chocolate can be made in Ghana.
Ghana Cocoa in its Truest Form
We take dried cocoa beans and process them into luxurious chocolate and confections. Most importantly, we aim to keep Ghana’s cocoa in its truest form. Our chocolate is not massed produced. It is handmade in small batches to ensure high quality, rich in cocoa, and made without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Cocoa (Not Sugar) is the First Ingredient
As part of the process of ensuring that our chocolate is of high quality, cocoa is always the first and main ingredient in our dark and milk chocolates, as opposed to sugar which is listed first in many other brands.
Reflecting Ghanaian Art & Culture
Our chocolate challenges the status quo of luxury chocolate being only a product of Europe. What’s most unique about our business is that we produce chocolate that is a reflection of Ghanaian art and culture, particularly through our Adinkra bars. These bite-sized bars are beautifully engraved with visual symbols created by the Ashanti of Ghana. We have a collection of 12 different Adinkra symbols, each representing a concept or a particular meaning such as leadership, beauty, humility, strength, and resourcefulness. We will be adding more concepts to our collection in the near future.
Six Signature Flavors
Currently (Feb, 2021), we have 6 signature flavors: 73 percent dark chocolate, 55 percent milk, white, mocha latte (coffee flavor), bissap (hibiscus flavor), and moringa chocolate. We pair our chocolates with various ingredients like coconut and sea salt.
For a complete list of our products, please visit our website. Other services we provide include catering for events and chocolate pairings/tastings for groups (a minimum of 6 people). Bookings for chocolate tastings can be found here on this page.
Now, grab some ‘57 Chocolate, follow them on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re in the US, you can order online at Soul and Story (where you can pick-up our other blog features Askanya and Sun Eaters Organics). My (Kim’s) favorite is, of course, the dark chocolate because I love the ability to taste pure Ghanaian cacao. But, if they're in stock, I’d snatch the Adinkra Bars in a heartbeat.
THE HISTORY OF ’57 CHOCOLATE
Cocoa Doesn’t Grow in Switzerland
Having spent time living in Geneva, Switzerland, we thought it was strange that Switzerland is known for its chocolate, but yet doesn’t grow cocoa, the core ingredient in chocolate. Meanwhile, Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa but produces very little chocolate itself. We saw a vast need for manufacturing chocolate in Ghana and across the continent of Africa.
Why Export Cocoa to Import Chocolate? Locally Grown and Made!
In Ghana, the candy shelves of supermarkets and malls are overflowing with foreign chocolate bars, many undoubtedly made with Ghana’s very own cocoa. Having recognized all of this, we were determined to use Ghanaian cocoa to create a high-quality African chocolate brand that is reputable locally, internationally, and can compete on the world market.
Now Ghanaian Chocolate (not just cocoa) is Well-Traveled
We love seeing the joy our chocolate brings to our clients, knowing that we are adding value to a unique resource right at home. Many people thought this would be impossible to achieve. Additionally, it’s the support and encouragement that we’ve received from near and far. We have received several inquiries about investments and whether we ship our chocolate abroad. We currently ship our chocolate to customers all over the world. Our chocolate is well-traveled. Our amazing customers have taken our chocolates to countries such as Japan, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Brazil, France, South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and many others.
Their Vision: for African Chocolate to be Known Worldwide
Over the long-term, we aim to create an African chocolate brand that is known worldwide, but most importantly one that surpasses our lifetime. We are working towards having our chocolate sold around the globe. We hope for our chocolate to continue to reflect and build upon the unique traditions and culture that makes us call Ghana and Africa at large home! We hope that ‘57 Chocolate inspires people from Ghana and across the continent, especially the youth, to create, develop, and consume made-in-Africa products.