Frigoulette chocolate from São Tomé

It is said that chocolate came to Europe around 1550. Spaniards brought the first cocoa beans to our continent, while the Aztecs had been drinking cacaohuatl, cocoa water, for more than a thousand years, and flawless cocoa beans of the best quality were used there as a means of payment.

Chocolate, first as a hot beverage and later, with new processing methods, also in solid form, has, without exaggeration, delighted all mankind in the following centuries. On the occasion of International Chocolate Day, which for some unknown reason falls on July 7, we tell the story of Bernard Xueref. At an age when others retire, the Frenchman launches a career as a chocolatier. The trigger for his passion is a cocoa bean from São Tomé & Principe.

Alle Produkte der Chocolaterie Frigoulettte werden aus den Kakaobohnen von São Tomé hergestellt. Für Firmengründer Bernard Xueref sind es die besten Kakaobohnen der Welt. Sie stammen von einer Premiere-Grand-Cru Plantage und sind biozertifiziert. Transparenz, Respekt vor der Natur und eine enge und persönlicheh Zusammenarbeit mit dem Partner Kafka sind Bernard Xueref wichtig / © Foto: Georg Berg
All Chocolaterie Frigoulettte products are made from São Tomé cocoa beans. For company founder Bernard Xueref, they are the best cocoa beans in the world. They come from a premiere Grand Cru plantation and are certified organic. Transparency, respect for nature and a close and personal collaboration with partner Kafka are important to Bernard Xueref / © Photo: Georg Berg

Sur la route du chocolat

The Frigoulette chocolate factory is located in the village of Beaufort-sur-Gervanne in the middle of the Vercors Nature Park. A winding road leads out of the village towards Frigoulette. The manufactory is named after the land where Bernard Xueref’s family has farmed for generations. The flags of France and São Tomé & Principe hang above the entrance to the wooden building. The island state in the Gulf of Guinea also bears the name Chocolate Island. In 1822, Portuguese settlers from Brazil settled on São Tomé & Principe. They brought with them cocoa plants, which thrived on the soil of volcanic origin. Soil characteristics and the favorable climatic conditions near the equator led to a cocoa boom. In 1913, cocoa cultivation on São Tomé reached its peak with 36,000 tons. Today, the island nation produces only about 3,000 tons. For company founder Bernard Xueref, an environmentally friendly and sustainable increase in productivity is an important concern.

Bernard Xueref, Gründer von Frigoulette Chocolaterie in seiner Manufaktur. Seine Leidenschaft für die Kakaobohnen aus São Tomé entdeckte er 2010. Die Aromen der Grand-Cru Kakaobohne beschreibt er mit den Noten von Zimt, Karamell und Tabak, leicht floral und wenig säuerlich / © Foto: Georg Berg
Bernard Xueref, founder of Frigoulette Chocolaterie in his manufactory. He discovered his passion for the cocoa beans from São Tomé in 2010. He describes the aromas of the Grand Cru cocoa bean with the notes of cinnamon, caramel and tobacco, slightly floral and little acidic / © Photo: Georg Berg

Best Bean – Organic Grand Cru from Sao Tomé

Bernhard Xueref discovered his passion for Sao Tomé cocoa beans in 2010. It was the special aromas and the exceptionally high quality of processing and fermentation that so excited him, who had already spent his life working on agricultural issues. He describes the aroma profile of the fine cocoa from São Tomé as having notes of cinnamon, caramel and tobacco, lightly floral, slightly earthy and with little acidity. Bernard Xueref travels to São Tomé twice a year. He maintains close contacts with many protagonists on the island. Kaoka, also based on São Tomé, is the exclusive supplier of organic Grand Cru beans to Frigoulette.

Zuschnitt der Nougat-Pralinen in der Chocolaterie Frigoulette. Die geschnittene Praline kommt ohne eine zusätzliche Schokoladenhülle aus. Die Manufaktur aus Beaufort-sur-Gervanne verwendet ausschließlich biozertifizierte und fairtraide gehandelte Kakaobohnen aus Sao Tomé. / © Foto: Georg Berg
Cutting the nougat pralines at Chocolaterie Frigoulette. The cut praline comes without an additional chocolate shell. The manufacture from Beaufort-sur-Gervanne uses only certified organic and fair-trade cocoa beans from Sao Tomé. / © Photo: Georg Berg

Unadulterated and without milk

Frigoulette uses only cocoa beans from São Tomé and does not use animal fats such as milk, cream or butter. Palm oil is also not used. Instead, pralines and chocolates have a cocoa content of 68 percent and only cocoa butter is processed. Many products can be tasted at the counter with a view into the manufactory. Frigoulette cooking chocolates with the aroma of lavender, thyme or mint are used in French recipes.

Commitment and intercultural exchange

In 2013, Bernard Xueref bought two hectares of land on São Tomé. On the pilot plots, as he calls them, improved cultivation methods are to increase yields and thus also the income of the local farmers. School projects are being promoted, and over the years an intercultural exchange is developing between schools on São Tomé and places in the Val de Drôme such as Beaufort, Suze-sur-Crest, Plan-de-Baix and Gigors. There is a lecture room in the manufactory in Beaufort. Groups of visitors, from tourists to school classes, learn here what makes a good chocolate and that, in addition to excellent product quality, it is also important to protect nature and pay producers fairly. In just twelve years, Bernard Xueref has become an influential ambassador for Grand Cru chocolate, who is concerned with much more than just the perfect taste of chocolate.

Die Malakoff-Nougat-Praline der Chocolaterie Frigoulette ist in ganz Frankreich erhältlich und besonders beliebt zu Weihnachten. Sie hebt sich äußerlich von den typischen Pralinen ab. Malakoff gehört zu den geschnittenen Pralinen, die ohne eine zusätzliche Hülle um den Kern auskommen / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Malakoff nougat praline from Chocolaterie Frigoulette is available throughout France and is particularly popular at Christmas. It stands out on the outside from typical chocolates. Malakoff belongs to the cut pralines that do not need an additional wrapping around the core / © Photo: Georg Berg

Malakoff chocolates or the food of the gods

Theobroma is the Latin name of the cocoa fruit and means nothing less than food of the gods. If, as in the case of Frigoulette, all products are made with the best fine chocolate, one comes quite close to this ancient Latin translation in culinary terms. Chocolate, chocolates, cooking pallets made from flavored cocoa have nothing in common with the sweet stuff made from mass-produced cocoa that is on supermarket shelves. One example is the Malakoff nougat praline from Chokolaterie Frigoulette. It is available throughout France and is especially popular at Christmas. The Malakoff praline stands out from typical chocolates on the outside. It is one of the cut chocolates without an additional wrapper around the core. Handmade, Frigoulette’s bestseller is wrapped in golden paper. In summer, production for Christmas is already underway. Roasted hazelnuts give the praline a crunchy texture.

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The accommodation costs in the valley of the Drôme were covered by the tourist office

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