Following a chance meeting at the 1999 Natural Products Show with Bill Francis, a stevia farmer from Hawaii, we (Diane Yamate and John Cunnell) then met with him on his farm on Oahu. Bill had developed a patented method of extracting Reb A (Rebaudioside A), the component of the Stevia plant that would be finally approved for use in food in the U.S. in 2008. He believed that his Stevia extract with its safety combined with natural clean taste and health characteristics was the best of all sweeteners for all foods.Â He asked us to make chocolate with his Stevia.
While waiting for the FDA's approval, not realizing that it would take almost 10 years, we started a long process of creating the elusive perfect chocolate formula, bold, balanced and satisfying.Â On the surface, Bill's request seemed simple but the early results were not encouraging. Our goal was to find a chocolate sweetened by Stevia that would be acceptable to the natural food community. In other words what else could we put in to facilitate the use of Stevia without compromising our desire for healthy purity.
Finally, we launched our Stevia chocolate in 2011 which, after many frustrating trials had evolved into an intensely flavor bar with 70% cocoa to impart substantial health value while delivering the well rounded gentle sweetness that we enjoyed and took for granted, in sugar sweetened chocolate.Â Our chocolate did not have any lingering Stevia taste.Â This real chocolate, properly refined and conched naturally, is smooth and silky without the sharp taste normally associated with chocolates with higher cocoa content.
It is also worth noting that, although the emphasis is on the newly released Stevia as a sweetener, the real health and taste champion is the cocoa bean with its massive portfolio of beneficial compounds.Â In Coco Polo, these cocoa bean attributes do not have to compete with the detrimental effects of processed sugar.
Our Stevia sweetened chocolate is a developmental step from our original ideas which started in 1996 of making delicious chocolate free from processed sugars.