It’s time for another installment of For the Love of Making Chocolate and this time we got in touch with Fred Lullﬁtz from Birdsnake Chocolate in Melbourne, Australia. Birdsnake Chocolate is a small craft chocolate brand that started in 2018 and adopts its unique name and standout branding from the Olmec people’s belief in the origin of chocolate.
Their product range runs the gamut from traditional craft chocolate bars to their Strange Magic chocolate spread – all made with cacao sourced from around the globe. Read our full interview below to learn about the driving-force behind their decision to pay above board for their quality cacao.
Read on to learn more about Birdsnake Chocolate!
1. How did you decide to pursue an interest in the craft chocolate market?
I worked in specialty coffee sourcing / procurement in Latin America. I spent a lot of time on farms and would constantly meet cacao producers, but had no idea about cacao whatsoever so it was all so exciting. I really wanted to learn more about cacao production and processing and understand the science behind what makes a good quality exportable cacao... I had no idea about the chocolate process either. I think the point of no return for me was during a long trip to visit a producer in a remote area of Colombia with a customer from the bay area. We had days to kill sitting in a ute flying along the Andes and he had brought down a few bars from North American makers, and it blew my mind and taste buds to smithereens. A couple of years later I ended up living around the corner from Dandelion in San Francisco, so I would stop in there fairly regularly until I decided that it was time to have a crack at it myself.
2. Can you describe the thought process behind the design of your chocolate bars and your unique brand name?
We wanted to make a bit of a splash and stand out. It was supposed to be fun and colorful, more so than some of the other Australian makers. Choosing the name was extremely difficult, but ultimately we decided to pay homage to the Olmec people who believed that a giant feathered serpent gave them cacao, and that's how Birdsnake was born.
3. Your company places an emphasis on paying above board for your cacao. What’s your motivation for this?
During my time working in export / import I noticed that there were alot of companies that claimed to be craft or artisan but would buy as close as possible to the commodity price. They would brand themselves as ethical or sustainable, and so would the people paying premiums and doing the work on ground which was quite frustrating. I think after going to a NW Chocolate festival in Seattle I saw some of the bigger chocolate makers there publishing transparency reports and it inspired me to have the same approach even if I was buying 10 bags a year. Essentially I think as an industry the idea is to all work towards something.
4. Are there any processes or techniques that you’re interested in incorporating into your chocolate-making repertoire?
A bit of structure / stability would be great, the last two years have been a rollercoaster. Potentially enrobing and panning too, there's so much fun to be had.
5. How are Micelli molds integral to your final product?
The bars have to look as good as they taste, and the Micelli moulds we have ensure that our bars are unlike anyone else's in Australia. They also stand the test of time which is fantastic.
6. What products in your line are you most exited for someone new to your chocolate to try?
Probably the mini bars, you can taste a range of our products side by side