In 2012, I took a trip to Africa as a board of director for a non-profit organization. The project, to construct and populate a chicken house, was operational faster than anticipated. We ended up visiting orphanages for the next around Uganda. With 4 adopted kids of our own, we love kids. On the flight home from Entebbe, I started thinking how we could make a more sustainable impact than sending a check every month.
When I we googled the natural resources of Uganda; there were 3 things that stuck out; coffee, cotton and cocoa. We have friends that own coffee and textile companies, so they weren't viable options, but chocolate, might have a play. We used to own a restaurant called World Garden, and we all loved chocolate. When we got home we started noodling with the idea of starting a chocolate company. We started experimenting in our laundry room. We made lots of really bad chocolate duiring those first six months. One time chocolate ended up on the ceiling, but after six months, we were making some decent chocolate. So we took our chocolate out to a few local shops to see if it might sell.
But we kept asking a question, why another chocolate company? A quick google search shows hundreds of chocolate companies in the US alone and an interesting factoid that most of the chocolate (~70%) in the world comes from three places, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Indonesia. If you are purchasing shipload quantities, these are the places you want to go (and the chocolate is good). But what if instead of sourcing chocolate from these places, we went the opposite direction? What if we sourced chocolate from the less known places that we could share with our customers? And what if we worked directly with the cacao farmers to help them while sourcing excellent chocolate? We would bring customers something very rare, that others can't/won't consider doing. That is the premise of Kyya Chocolate.
Anyone with a little time, money and an internet connection can make a chocolate bar, but we wanted to create a disruptive company, a chocolate company that was both original and yet old school. So from the beginning, we envisioned fine chocolate bars and a secret weapon, a cocoa press. The cocoa press allows us to make cocoa powder and a very important ingredient in chocolate making, cocoa butter. Most people just purchase cocoa butter from a supplier, and they couldn't tell you where the cocoa butter comes from. True artisan bean to bar makers make their own cocoa butter. There are just a handful of artisan folks that do this. We are honored to have joined the club. The third prong of our strategy was to create chocolate syrups from our single origin cocoa powder. Kyya worked with three coffee houses in Northwest Arkansas worked for 6 months to create a unique offering, single origin dark chocolate syrup, that is simply divine.
Kyya's business strategy is to take these lesser known chocolates of this planet and share them and the stories of our farmer partnerships as we go along. The story started three years ago, but the fun is just beginning.
Rick Boosey, founder, Kyya Chocolate
Elm Springs, Arkansas