The Academy of Chocolate has announced this year's big winners and one of them might surprise you.
In the category for "Best dark bean-to-bar under 70%," Almonte, Ontario's Hummingbird Chocolate Makers' Hispaniola bar came out on top, taking home the 2016 Golden Bean prize at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London. Hummingbird also won three silvers and two bronze in the competition.
HISPANIOLA WINS 2016 GOLDEN BEAN Very proud that our lovely Hispaniola 70% bar received the top honour at this year's Academy of Chocolate Awards Gala - the 2016 Golden Bean! There's no good chocolate without great cacao beans - the farmers and team at OKO Caribe in northern Dominican Republic use care and craft to grow some of the very best. Thank you small, but mighty, Hummingbird team - you guys rock! Thank you Academy of Chocolate for shining a light on fine chocolate (I've always wanted to thank the Academy).
Founders Erica and Drew Gilmour got into the chocolate business just a few years ago after meeting as international development workers in Afghanistan.
"We were looking for a change in lifestyle where we could spend a little more time at home," Erica told CTV News. "Drew pointed out how much I love to eat chocolate, and suggested I might like to make chocolate."
The couple source their beans directly from farmers they worked with in their previous careers in places like the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Bolivia. The Gilmours pay the famers more than fair trade prices to ensure their beans are grown sustainably and ethically.
The beans are then roasted, ground, separated from their shells and mixed with organic cane sugar and a tiny bit of cocoa butter.
The Hispanola bar is currently being sold in the Ottawa area for $6.50 for a 50-gram bar. The couple hopes to expand sales across Ontario later this year.