Bean To Bar: Lithuania Chocolate Naive
45km north of Vilnius, in a small town called Giedraiciai (Brightville) is the home base for Chocolate Naive, a small bean to bar operation that got its start in 2010. Lithuania may not come to mind when you think of chocolate but it is one that has earned a spot thanks to the energetic Domantas Uzpalis. “I bought one ton of beans, carried the bags to my garage and wondered what on earth I was going to do with this cacao?” says Uzpalis.
The answer: Create a chocolate brand that educates customers about the bean to bar process. Each bar is labeled with the percent of cacao, number of hours conched, roast characteristics, tasting notes and the origin of the bean which holds true to Domantas’ pursuit of crafting high quality bars that teaches customers about what they are eating.
01 Please introduce yourself:
Chocolate Naive is bean-to-bar chocolate project, based in the beautiful little town called Giedraiciai (Brightville). The factory is located close to the white church in the town. I am Domantas Uzpalis, founder of Chocolate Naive.
02 What is Chocolate Naive about?
Naive is about being silly in overly serious environment. Infantile philosophy is blended with ambition and here you have a nice combination of philosophies. We never try to follow the routes that were overly walked before. We like to break the rules. Sometimes, when people think that we cannot go even more adventurous – we take it further. While chocolate is just an object of our passion and it gambles together with us.
03 Where are your beans from?
We use many types of beans but wherever we buy from, the main criteria is quality. The quality of raw materials is utterly important. We sample each batch before making a purchase. If we don’t like something, we postpone. At this moment we are working with great beans from Nicaragua, Madagascar, Peru, Java, Papua New Guinea and some others. Each location is special to us and we try to buy as direct as possible.
04 Why were you drawn to becoming a bean to bar producer?
The production stage control is important. The raw material control is very important. The ability to influence tiny nuances of end product is also very important. Chocolate production is very complex so it was a healthy ambition to try to crack the production alchemy of chocolate.
05 How would you describe the taste of your bars?
The new chocolate bar collection by Chocolate Naive is called “Back to the Origins”. We wanted to combine local heritage with cacao and create the strange synergy between the two. We like our chocolate clean and pure. We like to leave small details for interpretation. We want to be loved for the inside as well as for the outside. Chocolate Naive chocolate is very simple yet sophisticated.
06 What drove you to make bean to bar chocolate?
Everything started years ago, during the peak of worldwide credit crunch. I found myself stuck in the gray zone where my fortune turned against me. Then I decided to get my life back and just bought 1 ton of cacao beans. It started by carrying jute bags to my garage and wondering what on earth I am going to do with these beans.
07 What are your thoughts on bean to bar chocolate as a marketing term?
It is a marketing tool but at the same time it gives the consumer important additional information about the product. On the one hand, bean to bar manufacturing existed prior to the bean to bar movement but this new movement brings chocolate making back to the roots, where the small and intimate scale is possible.
08 When you eat chocolate, what is your preference?
I like eating chocolate in bar or liquid form. The best way to get all the flavour profiles of the chocolate is to mix it with hot water, but a plain chocolate bar is always a preference for me. On the topic of bars, I prefer dark chocolate although there are some delicious milk and flavoured ones too!
Photo Source: Alma Galinskaite (Almu)//chocolatenaive.com
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