When company CEO Eric Durtschi expanded brewing cocoa company Crio Bru to launch Durci premium chocolate bars last September, he knew he wanted a package that was as visually distinctive on the outside as the high-quality chocolate on the inside was unique.
“Every couple of years the packaging for chocolate changes and within six months everyone is doing the same thing,” said Durtschi. “But I am not doing the same thing. I have different beans, an entirely different process for making my chocolate than anyone else and there is no question when you taste it that it is unique.”
So, Durtschi said he eschewed the traditional rectangle and opted for a large square shape with an explorer on the top of chocolate. The outer wrapper of each of the current six varieties of chocolate bar also has different landscapes that represent from where the particular bean used in the bar hailed and a bit about the culture of that land.
“Each bar tells a story about the particular bean we are using to create it and where it came from,” including the Corona Arriba 70% from Eduador; Defiant Viajero 40% from Chuao, Venezuela; Empyrean Sabor 70% from Carenero, Venezuela; Joya Rara 70% from Maranon, Peru; Tepui Treasure 70%; and finally the award-winning Taino Secret 70% from the Dominican Republic.
The Taino won bronze for the best graphic design and silver for best packaging at the 2016 Chocolate Bar awards from the International Chocolate Salon, which is based on votes from a judging panel made of national and regional magazines, newspaper and blog editors, experts, local chefs and “food gurus,” according to the company.
Before the awards validated Durtschi's decision to go in an opposite direction with the packaging for the Durci line from most competitors, he admitted that he was “kind of scared” that retailers would not know how to stock square chocolate or a brand with a price point hovering between $8.95 and $11.95 per bar.
“But, we have been accepted into a lot of really high-end chocolate stores purely based on our packaging,” he said. “And then they taste it and they are like, ‘Wow, it tastes awesome.’”
Subtle flavor notes consumers can actually taste
That taste component also helped the Taino win bronze for best dark chocolate at the 2016 Chocolate Bar awards from the International Chocolate Salon. The victory, and bar, is representative of the high quality, rare ingredients that Durtschi sources for the entire line as well as the care the company takes in processing the chocolate.
He explained to FoodNavigator-USA at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City that the beans used to make the Durci bars are rare, lower volume beans that he has discovered in his travels sourcing for Crio Bru and other chocolate makers.
“I have been sourcing beans for other chocolate makers for almost 10 years and some of these I have kept in my back pocket” until launching Durci was possible, he explained.
He added that his unique processing brings out the flavor profiles of the beans he selects.
“I made it my entire goal to process in a way that if I tell you it will taste like chocolate covered blackberries or bananas, you are going to taste that. And even if you are not an experienced chocolate maker, you going to taste that,” he said, adding that it is “really frustrating” when manufacturers list flavor notes on their chocolate that are not detectable.
Rapid expansion coming
The Durci line currently consists of six bars, but this fall Durtschi plans to release four more bars as well as chocolate covered almonds, chocolate covered cocoa beans and “a few other candy-like products.”
He said he is particularly excited about a blend of chocolate chips that is in the works and will include three types of chocolate combined together. This product not only will offer consumers another format and the flexibility of baking or snacking on the chocolate, but it also will expand the brand’s consumer base.
“There are people who won’t buy a $9 bar of chocolate, but they will buy a $6 bag of chocolate chips to make cookies or just snack on them,” and once they try the chips they might be more likely to try the bars at a higher price point, he said.