A native of Cameroon, Euphrasie Mbamba is the founder of artisan luxury chocolate boutique Sigōji. From its two locations in Ciney and Rochefort, in Belgium’s Wallonia region of Namur, Sigōji employs 6 professionals and produces 8 tonnes of chocolate a year.
RESSOURCES: In only four short years since Sigōji opened its doors, you have already won many awards. What makes Sigōji chocolate stand out so clearly?
Euphrasie Mbamba: Yes, Sigōji has indeed been awarded several prizes including ‘Meilleur Artisan 2017’ [Best Artisan 2017] and the coveted Gault&Millau ‘Meilleur Chocolatier 2019, Wallonie-Luxembourg’ [Gault&Millau Great Chocolatiers in Belgium awards]. Sigōji chocolates exude a unique and diverse tapestry of flavors, culture, and philosophy through which our clients can immerse themselves in the rich history of my early childhood.
R.: Your chocolates use cocoa beans sourced in particular from Cameroon and Madagascar. Why is that?
E.M.: Well, ‘why Cameroon’ needs little in the way of explanation. It is where I was born, where I am from, and since our family-run plantations were being phased down, I felt had to do something. Madagascar came about from an encounter and I just fell in love with their light cocoa beans (casse claire). I also recently tasted cocoa beans from Congo and they were really very good indeed. This will be the next stage.
R.: What makes African beans different from other cocoa-producing regions?
E.M.: I am still only starting out with more to learn about Africa’s various cocoa beans. Contrary to popular belief, cocoa beans vary between region, land type and country. Cocoa beans from my plantation are slightly fruity and woody, while those from Madagascar, especially those from the plantation I work with, are more tart. Of the many criteria that need to be considered the land is one of the most important.