Specially crafted 68 percent dark chocolate made with Cacao farmed by GVS Prasad, an engineer turned organic farmer from Tadikalapudi village of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh State is what Manam Chocolate called a Farm Tablet No 3. That the cacao is grown alongside areca nut, long pepper and banana and box fermented in a specially developed five-step process goes through drying alternately between sun and shade before reaching the Manam factory explains the flavour notes.

The Manam Chocolate Factory or Karkhana in the local language is in Hyderabad where the Cacao beans are gently roasted, and refined in special Italian ball mills along with Cacao butter extracted from the same beans before being conched for days to bring in the maximum desired texture. The whole process is aimed at mellowing down the bitterness, retaining the fine flavours – in this case fruity and making the chocolate creamy and chocolaty.

A minute trivia in this story is that the farmer in question GVS Prasad is the first farmer to associate with brand Manam and you see his mini figurine on display as a mark of respect at the factory cum experiential centre on Road No 12, Banjara Hills.

This story also explains the philosophy behind Manam Chocolate. The name is derived from the Telugu word that means ‘Us’. This farm to Fermentary chocolate experience translates into a plethora of products that one gets to see on display at the store. And the man behind the concept, the vision, research behind Manam Chocolate is Hyderabad-based food entrepreneur Chaitanya Muppala.

Signature Tablets, Bonbons, Truffles, Nama, Barks, Fudge, Palettes, Rochers, Clusters, Macrons, Glanduja, Spreads, Cake, Pastries, Viennoiserie, Hot and Cold Beverages, a range of ingredients for Bakers and so much more – the many products that have been the result of curating recipes and experimenting with the Cacao diligently produced by farmers primarily from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – are all on display at the store, which is an extension of the factory where one can witness their chocolate being made. Also attached to the experience centre is tastefully done Manam Café which has a real Cacao tree grown in the middle of it and flanked by greenery all around. The mostly European menu at Manam Café gets a touch of chocolate not just in the desserts and beverages, but also in other dishes, for example – the Cacao nibs sprinkled for crunch which adds brilliance to a wholesome plate of salad.

While you are amazed at the way the indigenous grown and processed crafted chocolate has been adapted into the store menu and the café food – one cannot help but acknowledge the story of a passionate man whose love for food found an outlet where he put in his might to create some of the best practices in making craft chocolate. The processes he put in place positively impact every stage of production – from the farmers who are at the beginning of the curve to unlocking the potential of indigenous Cacao and Cacao products taking them beyond bean to bar, and placing Indian Cacao on the global map.

The story of Manam invariably comes back to Chaitanya Muppala – where it all began. Manam Chocolate’s vision is led by Chaitanya, who has been certified Level 1, 2 and 3 in Chocolate Tasting by the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting (IICCT, USA). He is currently India’s first and only Level 3 Certified Chocolate Taster. In 2018, Chaitanya’s search for quality Indian chocolate proved pivotal. He realised the difference between industrial and craft chocolate, which led him to create a business model for fine flavour Indian craft chocolate. He incorporated Distinct Origins Private Limited to establish West Godavari as the go-to destination for global craft chocolate makers. He has successfully brought on board 100 Cacao farmers, and is currently sharing his learning with those who not just buy their chocolate from Manam but carry with them the story of history in making.