Theo is short for Theobroma cacao, the scientific name of the cacao tree which is the source of all chocolate. While Philo is derived from the Greek word, philos, which means love.
But by mere coincidence (or destiny), the founder’s name is also Philo Chua and he really digs chocolates. So much so that he was the first bean-to-bar maker in the Philppines using only directly-sourced single-origin Filipino cacao.
Philo lived and worked in the IT industry for several years in Pittsburgh in the United States. A foodie at heart, he often binged on the Food Network and always cooking whenever away from coding.
Fun fact: Craft chocolate makers around the world often came from different & diverse career backgrounds from high-profile lawyers, scientists to journalists etc.
One day a new store opened in Pittsburgh selling special chocolates from all over the world that said “single-origin”. Although European chocolates were considered the best at that time, Philo realized that those single-origin chocolates are made from cacao
In 2009, Theo and Philo sold his first bars and today their chocolates have been attracting both local and global attention.
Philo said that theirs are made with a combination of traditional and modern processes: an old-school melangeur using only natural ingredients and a modern tempering machine for higher consistency.
The cacao beans they use from the Malabog farmers are chosen based on their flavors - it has to be well-fermented, with complex notes, no off-flavors and free of defects.
When asked about his chocolates, Philo described:
“For us, it's always about using fresh local ingredients and with a balance of the right acidity with the chocolatey flavor. Our chocolate can be characterized as fudgy and fruity with a slight earthiness.
I believe each chocolate maker has a different philosophy and subjective taste preferences when making chocolate. Even when using the same cacao beans, different chocolate makers can come up with different taste profiles.”
As for different customer markets Philo said that their Milk Chocolate Adobo sold out when they set up booth in Paris.
“We were surprised the milk chocolate adobo was a hit. I guess the adobo name in a chocolate was intriguing and found it actually good.” said Philo
Chocolates anchored on roots and community
Philo maintains that his personal mission is to grow a business anchored on sourcing and crafting high-quality chocolates straight from its very roots.
Theo & Philo’s focus is on reviving the Filipino cacao heritage at the same time making sure to support local Filipino farmers and employ people who really need it.
This is why Theo and Philo chose to work with Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine-based organization who has worked on the ground to help build back peace in the Malabog community and continue to capacitate the cacao farmers in Davao.
Read more the inspiring story of Gawad Kalinga and Malabog Farmers.
Every time the Theo and Philo team gets to visit the remote highland village of Malabog, they never fail to bring their own chocolates to bring to the small and “big” kids.
“Farmers don’t often get to taste the chocolates which were made from the beans they worked hard to care for. So we bring them chocolates every time."
It’s always a delight for the kids to see the cacao fruit they’re more familiar with transformed to chocolate in colorful wrappers too.” Philo added.
So if you have a Theo and Philo chocolate bar means not only tasting the unique flavors of the Philippine islands but feeling good in knowing you’ve helped make a real difference to many, especially to these kids. Enjoy!
You can buy Theo and Philo chocolates in Sweden at Tzocolaté, or share them as a gift set in Tropical Holiday flavors or Milk Adventure flavors.
Inspiring story of Gawad Kalinga and Malabog Farmers
Interview with founder, Philo Chua of Theo and Philo Chocolates