I reckoned you’ve already noticed that “Winter is coming”. No need for Jon Snow to give us this depressing news to realise it. Feeling the cold running through our body, seeing the daylight running away from us and detecting this blue feeling running aground on our mental health’s beach are indisputable evidences.
Everyone has its own way to fight this terrible feeling but some ways are more popular than other… And one of them is, of course, a delicious hot chocolate with some homemade pastries like that :
Belgium has the best chocolate in the world
That’s what we like to think, at least. And following this argument, our hot chocolate shouldn’t be anything but divine, of course. Lucky us ! However, it’s not always easy to choose one. We have so many chocolate makers and so many chocolate bars that even the most assiduous Belgian chocolate lover couldn’t list them all.
When it comes to sweet treats, all chocolate bars and drinks are good, of course. But what if you want a truly good chocolate made by loving chocolate makers respecting at the same time the cocoa producers, their employees and all the important steps of the chocolate production line ?
Well, truth is… it’s quite impossible to check that out. Big producers don’t explain their ways to work or their ingredients’ provenance. It’s definitely not how the world works, these days.
Return to the roots
If you’re smart enough to notice this unfriendly season arriving, I bet you couldn’t miss this need people have nowadays to go back to a simpler way of living. Worldwide producers, enormous factories and gigantic stores are becoming less trendy. Their non transparent producing and pricing have obviously something to do with it.
These days, people demands to know all about the products they buy : is the raw material of high quality ? Is this an ethical business ? Is the production line respecting the environment ? A lot of questions we don’t often have a clue about when we purchase new things.
The chocolate business is no exception to the rule. A lot of chocolate lovers thought about it and came up with the amazing idea that if they really want a good quality chocolate, they should produce it themselves, from bean… to bar !
Bean-to-bar, a marvelous concept !
Everything started when Julia and Björn first tasted a chocolate from Lithuania made by a small and unknown producer. First skeptical, they realised this chocolate was way more tasty and aromatic than many chocolates they tried before. They discovered that it was also way more respectful of the complex way of producing chocolate, the producer using high quality cocoa and keeping an eye for detail during the production process.
Back in Belgium, they found out there were more and more new chocolate makers following the “bean-to-bar” concept but no shops to sell them. Both working full-time (in communication and finance), they were actually looking for a new challenge. That’s why they decided to start an online shop to sell all the highest quality bean-to-bars chocolates they could find.
Chocolates from Vietnam (Marou), Portugal (Feitoria do cacao), Denmark (Friis Holm), Lithuania (Naive), Czech Republic (Jordi’s), Iceland (Omnom) but also from Antwerp, Malines or Tervuren, they all have their own specificity but at least one thing in common : they’re members of the bean-to-bar movement and a lot of them have won at least one chocolate award. Not so hard when you put quality before quantity.
Mike & Becky, from selling to producing
After having tasted a thick hot chocolate in Praha, Björn and Julia thought that we should find the same in Brussels and started to find a place to open a pop-up store. When they finally found the place avenue Brugmann, they decided to open a real store and start producing their own chocolate. Newly opened in Uccle, Mike & Becky is now Brussels’ first small-batc
If they decided keep selling all these exquisite chocolates on their website, you can also find them in their new shop ! But more than going to Mike & Becky to buy chocolates, you have to taste their unbelievable hot chocolate (made from their own old-fashioned, bio, fair trade chocolate) and their homemade pastries.
They successfully combined a great shop to a lovely “chocolateroom” and ended up with a cosy place to hang out, working or just enjoy your hot chocolate while looking at the fishes… or all the people freezing outside. You can have a look of the ground floor on this video:
Welcome to the non standardised world
Julia and Björn’s first desire was to think outside the box. But making some good quality chocolate, discovering other good ones and sharing the new and amazing concept with the rest of the world were their first steps.
They decided to start with 5 chocolates : one from Peru with a pronounced taste, a fruity one from Belize, the Dominican Republic’s one is bio, the chocolate from Congo is sweeter and the Indian one is newly produced. They didn’t want to make only fair trade chocolate but wanted to have a “direct trade” product. To do so, they decided to meet all their cocoa producers, tasting their beans but also making sure no children is involved in the process of production. They wanted their work to be 100 % old-fashioned and then, of course, totally non standardised.
But the cocoa producers weren’t the only persons they work with. They chose to work with some new and unique artists (like Florence Marais, NiRuk or Phytplants) and make some peculiar partnerships and pairings (with wine, coffee, opera and maybe cheese, someday!). They also started to collaborate with Creo2 a start-up from Louvain-la-Neuve that make you shop local and act global at the same time (each time you go shopping at one of their partners, you can choose, which NGO the shop will support). And it’s only the beginning !
Don’t miss it !
What else to say ? Don’t hesitate and go to Mike & Becky and let Björn & Julia happily explain you the fantastic bean-to-bar movement and show how they make their own chocolate !
If you’re interested, they’re organising some events :
25 November : Tour around the world of bean-to-bar chocolate
27 November : Opera & Chocolate Pairing
2 December : Chocolate & Wine pairing (2 December)
4 December : Chocolate & Coffee pairing
16 December : Chocolate & Wine pairing (16 December)
Mike & Becky, Avenue Brugmann 243, Place Vanderkindere, 1180 Uccle
Mon-Fri : 8:00-18:00
Trams: 3, 4, 7, 92 (‘Vanderkindere’)
Phone: 0498 44 06 40