Theo & Philo: Soy sauce and black pepper in your chocolate bar
New variant: milk chocolate adobo
Yes, you've read it right: an adobo-flavored milk chocolate bar! But it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise because it's from Theo & Philo, the Philippine artisan chocolate brand that introduced us to such flavors as Calamansi (a local citrus), Green Mango and Sea Salt, and Labuyo (red chili).
Last Thursday, founder Philo Chua did a short talk at our company about his experiences of being an entrepreneur. It was there that I got to try the new variant milk chocolate adobo. While you can definitely smell the adobo, there's no real meat in the bar. The milk chocolate is still the top flavor but it's the soy sauce and black pepper taste that linger in your mouth. I like it.
The milk chocolate adobo bar with other flavors plain milk chocolate and barako (a local variant of coffee).
Chua brought along a few bars for sale at a 10% discount. By the end of his talk, they were sold out.
Chua is an IT professional of all things--and is still practicing it, by the way--so it was quite interesting to listen to him explain how he ended up with such a business idea. A key take-away for me was that even when he was younger, it was always business that they were talking about in their family, not where they wanted to work or anything like that. For me, it shapes one's outlook and definitely creates an entrepreneurial spirit in that person.
Theo & Philo still operates on a small scale, where Chua is personally involved. He says he does receive investment offers but he's happy with the way things are at the moment and that he still has no immediate plans of scaling up.
Each production starts with raw cacao beans and not with any pre-made chocolate bar. Sourced straight from Davao, the beans are dried and then roasted. Cracking and winnowing follow so they end up with only cacao nibs. These are then ground to form a paste before further refining and adding sugar and other flavors. Tempering, which gives chocolate that delectable sheen, and moulding follow. Once they are cool enough, the bars are packaged and are ready for delivery.
Someone hoarded a lot of Theo & Philo for Christmas last year.
The milk chocolate with pili nuts and pinipig (rice flakes) is also a good choice for the sweet-toothed but he'll love the plain milk chocolate just the same. Labuyo is also an interesting flavor and which spiciness I can tolerate.
We likewise got to taste a new flavor they're developing, some milk chocolate with pinipig and a soft, chewy core. I loved it and I hope it goes commercial soon. There were also a few cookies made by Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries, with whom Chua has partnered to provide them with livelihood opportunities.
It was also interesting to hear Chua say that based on his experience, the upper class are more health-conscious and therefore prefer the dark chocolate variety. The middle to lower class, on the other hand, are wont to choose the sweeter milk chocolate flavors. Okay, I like dark chocolate but I tend to default on milk chocolate. Fine, isa akong hampaslupa (I'm a tramp).
Another nice thing about Theo & Philo is their cool packaging, which is different for each flavor. Although gift boxes are available, the chocolate bars already make for some nice small gifts on their own.
These chocolate bars make for some good Christmas gifts without any need for further gift-wrapping.
With the man himself, Philo Chua.
Theo & Philo chocolates sell for around Php 100 a bar but some retailers may charge a few pesos higher. They don't have an online store but their products are carried by several stores across Metro Manila, Tagaytay, Cavite, and Cebu.
For more info, including a full list of stores that carry their chocolates, go to theoandphilo.com.