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How four B.C. hockey buddies accidentally became award-winning chocolatiers

Click to play video: 'This Is BC: East Vancouver hockey buddies turn hobby into award-winning chocolate business'
This Is BC: East Vancouver hockey buddies turn hobby into award-winning chocolate business
Inspired by one of their fathers from the Philippines, four hockey buddies became experts in cacao beans. Their hobby quickly took off into a chocolate bar business garnering rave reviews. The name "Kasama Chocolate" also celebrates its origins in the Philippines and means together. Jay Durant has their story. – Nov 15, 2022

They call it their accidental chocolate company.

It started off as a bit of joke: four hockey buddies having beers around the table and learning more about a photo of co-owner Vince Garcia’s late father Mario back home in the Philippines.

“I thought we had mangos on our family property. Turns out it was cacao pod,” Garcia told Global’s This is BC.

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The group arranged for some of those pods to make it to Vancouver, and weekend experimentation began not long afterwards.

“Vince shows up on our doorstep, and he’s like, ‘Alright guys!’ He’s got a suitcase full of beans, He’s like, ‘Let’s make chocolate,” co-owner Stefan Klopp said.

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“It was very much just a hobby. We have beans, let’s see if we can make chocolate,” Oliver Koth-Kappus, another Kasama co-owner, explained.

They watched YouTube videos and checked out online forums to learn the craft.

“Our first chocolate bar tasted like cardboard and pizza at the time,” Garcia said.

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But this hobby became a serious passion, and eventually a small business starting out at farmers markets. Now they’re travelling the world sourcing the best beans.

“Honestly, when we started this we thought, if we can make gifts that were somewhat edible that we can give as gifts at Christmas we’ll be happy,” Klopp said.

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This was a big year for Kasama, which means togetherness in the Philippines. Their little company won 19 medals at the International Chocolate Awards. Not bad for a bunch of guys who first bonded playing pickup hockey.

“I don’t think a lot of people took us seriously when we first started,” Garcia said. “I don’t think we took ourselves seriously either.”

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A fun side project that turned into an award-winning business, all sparked by a random picture of Vince’s dad holding cacao pods.

“To see where we’ve come as a group of friends, he’d be very happy for us,” Garcia said.

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“And to see too that his little town has created this opportunity for us.”

To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at thisisbc@globalnews.ca.

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