Photo: Zdravka Kokalova

The great story of the modest chocolate

…or when bacteria met dessert

You start by taking a piece of harmonica biotic+ craft chocolate. Depending on your preference, choose between milk or dark chocolate. As per the chocolatier Vincent Gaillot’s instructions, place the chocolate between the tongue and palate and let it melt – as long as it needs to. An explosion of flavor, aroma, and emotion ensues. Simultaneously, a billion probiotics placed in just a 55-gram bar begin to strengthen your immune system and contribute to overall better health. Fascinating, and a bit fantastical isn’t it?

If you only knew the entire compelling story of a single bar of our chocolates. For now, we can share the highlights with you:

It all began in 2014.

Our teammate, Venko Simeonov, came up with a very peculiar concept. While researching the issue of how to “offer” probiotics to children more attractively, an uncommon idea occurred to him – chocolate with probiotics.

Оur teammate, Venko, talking with our children about probiotics and gut health.

Sounds good right? However, creating a bar of chocolate with probiotic cultures is no trifling matter. Studies, researches, experiments, and mistakes… followed by new attempts, more errors, and trials are needed.

Our very tallented partner – Lubo from Darimex..

Months flew by, with similar setbacks, and a lot of trial and error. For probiotics to have a beneficial effect, they must be active when consumed. That’s why we couldn’t supplement them in the heated chocolate. We had to solve the issue of how to introduce them in the already cooled down chocolate.

That’s when Venko remembered a chocolate workshop he had attended with Vincent Gaillot, a bean-to-bar enterprise where everything is handcrafted.

So, we turned to Vincent.

Everyone knows how to find and enjoy artisanal chocolate. Most people can recognize a good craft chocolate bar. But- just a few know how to actually make quality hand crafted chocolate. One of them is Vincent Gaillot.

Vincent and Maria Gaillot.

Vincent and his wife Maria, are the people behind the Gaillot chocolate brand. Each process in the small artisan workshop is done manually. It does take up considerably more time doing things by hand. But if its quality you seek, that’s how you achieve it.

Gaillot works only with cocoa beans grown in small family farms in Venezuela, Peru, and Nicaragua. The independent plantations respect both human labor and nature’s principles in the growing process.

The cocoa beans are hidden inside.

With less than ten people employed and no more than 100 m² of surface area, the small artisan workshop of the Gaillot family functions as a bean-to-bar enterprise. Gaillot is the only producer in Bulgaria to roast and grind the cocoa beans. If we compare- there are just three such producers in France, while in Belgium, famous for its chocolate, there are none.

If you can’t imagine the effort and time involved in achieving handcrafted chocolate, let us illustrate just a few of the processes involved:

  • The raw cocoa beans are carefully inspected bean by bean. If a bean is too small or has a thick shell, it’s removed.
  • The cocoa beans are ground using small mills. The process takes up three days, with no additives used.
  • Each chocolate bar is thoroughly examined to perfection. The final touch is the packaging-done by hand.
Gaillot is the only producer in Bulgaria to roast and grind the cocoa beans. If we compare- there are just three such producers in France, while in Belgium, famous for its chocolate, there are none.

For our harmonica bars, probiotic cultures are also added manually. Just imagine a billion probiotics supplemented one-by-one in a chocolate bar of 55 g. Of course we’re joking. We don’t place each probiotic individually, although we do add it by hand, for all four strains.

The process of selecting which strains to add represented an additional challenge. What we knew was that we couldn’t do it alone. So, we turned to the experts for help. Our R’n’D team consulted with the accredited LB Bulgaricum laboratory run by professor Zhechko Dimitrov. We received some invaluable recommendations.

The following four strains were the front-runners: Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus gasseri.

But not every combination of bacteria results in a beneficial effect.

Our essential task was to make the right selection since not every combination of bacteria results in a beneficial effect. We picked out each of the four strains due to how long they last in the human body (backed by by excellent results in clinical trials). We believe probiotics contribute to an improved intestinal microbiom and strengthen immunity. To get a glimpse of the beneficial effect of the probiotics contained in our chocolate, here is a short introduction:

  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus fights the “bad” bacteria in the digestive system, neutralizes toxins and produces natural antibiotic effects. You might be familiar with this particular strain from Bulgarian yogurt. The probiotic restores and keeps the normal intestinal microbiom in balance.
  • Bifidobacterium longum prevents the development of food allergies and pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Lactobacillus plantarum regulates the immune system and controls intestinal infections.
  • Lactobacillus gasseri contributes to a better fat balance and lipid metabolism while reducing the overall levels of cholesterol in the body.
Our chocolate with probiotics.

Once we’d defined “our” probiotics, we had to find out if they were still alive three, six, and even twelve months after the chocolate production.

Thus, more samples and lab analyses followed. For months we kept chocolates scattered around in the office cupboards at room temperature. The hardest part was to keep them away from hungry colleagues. Nevertheless, we needed the samples in the lab to confirm the probiotics condition and concentration. We experienced both relief and joy when the trials proved to be successful! The results showed the probiotics are active throughout the whole life span of the chocolate!

The results from the lab showed the probiotics are active throughout the whole life span of the chocolate!

Our story doesn’t end here. We needed a few more months to tweak and to finalize the recipe. Next, the chocolate needed some “new clothing” – beautiful and stylish packaging, to protect the bar and at the same time illustrate its uniqueness on the store shelf. It took just a little more time for the first biotic+ chocolate bars to appear in stores.

Today- no matter how much you travel throughout Europe- we promise you won’t find anything like our artisanal chocolate bar with probiotics.

Our chocolates are SO innovative!

No matter how much you travel throughout Europe- we promise you won’t find anything like our artisanal chocolate bar with probiotics.
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