Sourced directly from individual growers in Mexico and hand-roasted in Boulder, Colorado, Sienna's Fortuna Chocolate uses single estate cacao which is fermented and dried by each grower ensuring sophisticated flavor profiles and building upon thousands of years of traditional techniques.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
A combination of our years living in Tokyo surrounded by some of the highest quality products produced anywhere in the world, our relationship with Professor Nisao Ogata head of the Tropical Trees department at the University of Veracruz, and the blossoming food scene in Colorado.
Tell us about your products.
All of our chocolate is made using premium cacao that we have personally sourced directly from single estate growers in Mexico. Once the cacao has reached us in Colorado we hand roast every batch based on the specifics of each custom order and then it spends up to three days in our large stone grinder. All of the chocolate making - from the cacao bean to the final product - happens inside of a 26’ truck that we remodeled into our factory and mobile chocolate boutique. It’s a big challenge, especially with the fluctuating weather of Colorado, but it allows us to focus our resources on acquiring the very best cacao on the market and encouraging small-scale growers to maintain and improve the traditional techniques, which make Mexican cacao so special.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Artisan” Mean To You?
We talk about this a lot as a team. Being small-batch artisans adds a very specific kind of value to your product and that is an extreme attention to detail. You are able to notice subtleties in flavor development for example that may be completely overlooked over in an industrial model. That being said, we are also huge proponents of efficiency and are always looking for ways to balance the two.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
Aldo’s father is from a small town in Mexico that has maintained many small-batch traditional foods. There is a butcher that produces a type of chorizo using homemade pineapple vinegar unlike anything else, it’s incredible… and a candy maker that produces a kind of goat’s milk caramel using a family recipe that is over 100 years old. Mexico is full of incredible small-batch products.
What Drew You To Food?
Food is a universal, everyone needs to eat and in that way everyone is drawn to food. Paying attention, appreciating the story and human effort behind the food is a skill that takes time to develop - learning to see your plate as the culmination of many human hands and natural forces creatively working together.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
For all three of us inspiration came once we started traveling, between the three of us we have lived in five foreign countries and traveled extensively in something like 30 over the past 15 years. The exposure you experience, or can experience if you are open to it, while traveling is one of the best sources of inspiration in terms of what is possible and what is edible.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We have been really enjoying the collaborations we have built over the past year with local chefs and seeing what they do with the chocolate we produce for them has been wonderful. We don’t typically make ‘bars’ and there are a number of reasons for that one of which being that many chocolate makers both in the US and internationally are already making really great bars. We are focused on filling the gap for restaurants and bars where the quality of chocolate on the menu many times does not match the quality of the rest of their ingredients. Currently we are producing a premium bottled drinking chocolate that can be served at the table or by the glass, a dark chocolate syrup that can be used in cocktails, coffees or even ice creams and a single estate chocolate bitters that can elevate a craft cocktail to something very unique.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
I am having the most fun experimenting with the dark chocolate syrup right now it’s extremely versatile.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
The spring harvest this year from an estate in the south of Mexico has had so many surprising flavor qualities, very different from the fall harvest at the same estate. We have all been learning from it.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
Mole. I have had the honor to be passed a family recipe from my husband’s brother in law, his family makes a mole in the Puebla style and each of the 20+ ingredients must be hand roasted individually on a comal to their perfect level before frying them in lard and blending them together. This time I made it with one of our 70% La Joya chocolates, so it is less sweet then the original version but was fantastic poured over chicken and sopped up with fresh, steamy tortillas.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
I am sure all three of us would have different answers to this question but mine, at least today, is Salvador Dali. I just discovered a surrealist cookbook that he produced that was extraordinary.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other artisans?
Aldo and I lived with a family of artisanal brewers in Denmark for awhile, they brew using Nordic Gene Bank barley that they grow onsite and use only a mill for crushing the grains to the right size, otherwise everything else is operated by hand. We learned that dedication to your vision and commitment to the flavor profiles you seek should be the ultimate guiding factor. There may be easier ways to do something or more profitable ways but if they don’t serve your flavor or vision they are meaningless distractions.
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
We are fortunate enough to be working with many very talented local chefs, among them the chef that curated the Fare Trade collection with our chocolate– Artisan / Chef Alex Seidel. He has a farm, makes delicious sheep’s milk cheese and has two very different restaurants both with some of the very best hospitality any of us have enjoyed since leaving Tokyo.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
My last meal would be something fresh and made with love by one of my family members.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
While the three of us were living in Tokyo, our favorite thing to do was to explore the city by bike and discover new foods and restaurants. Many of the menus we found in these out of the way places were written in Kanji and there is a fabulous concept in Japan “Ososume” which means “Chefs Choice” or “House Suggestion” and this simple word led us to all kinds of delicious experiences.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
I trained as a fine artist, Aldo is a modular synthesizer musician, and Spencer is an Opera singer and Jazz vocalist… so we usually end up doing something creative, we have all kinds of conceptual pieces in various stages of production. Being from Colorado, I also love being outside and we spend a lot of time on our bikes.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Aldo worked as a DJ in both Mexico and Tokyo, so he usually is in charge of the Spotify playlists while we are working together.
What is your favorite recipe to make with the product featured in our basket?
My mom has been making Tahini cookies with some of our chocolate; it’s an instinctual recipe so it changes a little every time but the combination between savory sesame and our dark chocolate is really satisfying.