Burgeoning pioneers of hot chocolate in Thailand are creating their local productions of the latter items, including a Thai chocolatier that sources bars and cups of hot-choc from homegrown cocoa.
Paradai Crafted Chocolate and Cafe is where to go in Bangkok for a delicious cup of hot chocolate or to sample its single-origin chocolate bars made from cocoa beans from Nakhon Srithammarat and Chanthaburi provinces. The store also has branches in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phuket.
At 120 baht a cup, it’s not cheap, but still cheaper than Belgium’s Govida which charges 155 baht in Bangkok.
Yet while Godiva is world-famous with acclaim to match, Paradai is just a new kid on the block. Paradai, however, aren’t the only Thai chocolatiers – Kad Kokoa also comes to mind.
Chocolate Guidebooks, such as one by UK chocolate expert Dom Ramsey, for example, doesn’t even feature Thailand on its map. After all, Paradai suppliers are small-scale farmers with the oldest farms being no more than two-decades old. Cacao plants were only introduced to the country in recent decades.
Compare this to the Philippines where cacao plants were brought over by the Spanish colonial masters in the 17th century. Or Indonesia, which today is the third-largest producer in the world after the Ivory Coast and Ghana, according to Ramsey. Thailand has a lot of catching up to do – but Paradai is already doing something right.
Its chocolate bars, ranging from 58 percent to 100 percent cacao won some international awards despite its business still being in its infancy.
This writer has less of a sweet tooth than the average Thai and finds Paradai’s classic hot chocolate, made primarily from 75 percent dark chocolate from Nakhon Srithammarat, a tad too sweet. Asked to make it less sweet, your chocolate barista would tell you that’s not possible as its recipe cannot be altered, but I still enjoyed the richness.
Customers can watch the barista slice chocolate bars into small thin shreds for your cup of hot chocolate after ordering.
Next time, I may try the 100 percent dark chocolate bar (250 baht for 50 grams or the classic 75 percent dark chocolate for the same price) and have it with a cup of Americano or espresso instead.
The Paradai chocolate bars from Nakhon Srithammarat are nutty and less fruity or acidic than those from Chantaburi province.
Suppakan Deemak is a barista at Paradai branch on the third floor of Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center which opened five months ago, a year after the main store on Tanao Road near Kokwua Road. She said customers are a mix of Thais, Japanese, and westerners.
Suppakan, who is in her twenties, said it took her a month or so to learn to become chocolate barista. She does coffee as well.
All in all, Paradai Craft Chocolate & Café is worth visiting if you like chocolate or wonder what Thai terroirs, capable roasting, and chocolate baristas can produce.
Paradai Craft Chocolate & Coffee is located at 197-199 Tanao Road, Bangkok as well as on the third floor at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center. Tanao Road shop opens every day except Tuesdays from 9.30am to 6pm and BACC branch from 11am to 8pm every day except Monday.
The chocolate and chocolate bonbons in the review were paid for by the writer.