Meet the banker behind Delhi's favorite chocolate factory
An Instagram live that banker Sheetal Saxena watched back in 2019 set the foundation of her entrepreneurial journey. Just a year and a half later, she is not only an expert bean to bar chocolatier but also the founder of India’s first open chocolate factory.
We talk with Sheetal Saxena about her journey in the world of chocolates, the chocolates she makes, and Colocal, her cheerful café that has become a culinary hotspot in Delhi, just a few months since its opening.
Did you always want to become a chocolatier or an entrepreneur?
Contrary to how it may seem, making chocolates or owning a café was not even a distant thought until two years ago. It was then, while following an influencer’s stories on Instagram, I came across the chocolate roasting process at Marao Chocolates in Vietnam. The process seemed very similar to coffee bean roasting and got me curious.
That curiosity led me to Vietnam, and to Marou Chocolates where I first learnt about bean to bar chocolates. Following the process I travelled to Paris for the Salon du Chocolat festival, world's largest event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa, and to Italy where I learnt the subtleties of chocolate making.
How then did you decide to open a chocolate factory?
Once I understood the process, I also figured how little we knew about real chocolate in India. There were also very few bean to bar chocolates here.
While everyone eats chocolate in India, we don’t know what goes behind making a good chocolate. I wanted to educate people about the exciting world of craft chocolates, and also bring to them real chocolates made out of premium quality Indian cacao beans.
When I started working on this project, everyone said chocolate making requires formal training. I broke that barrier by learning every step of the process from the beginning. I traveled around the world to understand chocolate making and experience various kinds of processes, raw material and techniques. All I had was passion and determination, which helped me create the brand.
And, what sets Colocal apart as a concept?
Colocal is the first of its kind brand in India that is bean to bar chocolate factory and also a café at the same time. While we make our chocolate right inside the café (which we serve absolutely fresh as hot chocolate, cold chocolate, cacao cold brew), we also roast our own coffee.
The menu at our café meanwhile is a comfortable mélange of Italian and global fare that suits all age groups and palates. Apart from chocolate and coffee based drinks and desserts, our range of freshly made sourdough pizzas, handmade pastas, homemade burgers, and sandwiches bring families and friends together.
Did you face hindrance in your entrepreneurial journey on account of being a woman?
My gender has not been of any consequence in my life. I had the privilege of having a family that raised us sisters like independent individuals and gave us the freedom and the power to choose our own course. In business too, nothing was impacted – positively or negatively – by my being a woman. Colocal, incidentally, is financed 100% by women. My chocolate making team is also an all woman team.
Any tips for the young women who want to take the entrepreneurial plunge?
I will only say go for it and follow your dreams. In the beginning it may seem like a huge mountain to climb, but if you keep going things will start falling in place. I’d also like to add that it is important for every woman to have her own identity, and work towards achieving it.
Credit By: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/meet-the-banker-behind-delhi-s-favorite-chocolate-factory