Glorious world of chocolate.
Bitter chocolate with a straightforward cacao flavor. Milk chocolate with a soft sweet taste. Ganache with a smooth texture and colorful chocolates filled with nuts, fruits, and liqueurs.
The glittering jewel-like chocolates lined up in the stores are beautiful even when you just look at, and when you actually taste them, the luscious taste will continue to fascinate you.
We think that the world of chocolate is actually a bit similar to that of tea.
There are varieties of tea leaves and cacao, the climate of each region where they are grown, the processing technology to produce chocolate from cacao and tea leaves from raw leaves, and all of these factors affect the taste.
There are countless choices for both tea and chocolate, and it is quite a difficult task to find the one that you like among them.
We at FETC carefully select delicious teas from all over Japan, but have you ever heard of a wonderful store that collects chocolates from all over the world in the same way?
That is the chocolate specialty store, ‘c7h8n4o2’.
A store with chocolates from all over the world, "c7h8n4o2"
The first floor of Shibuya Scramble Square. On a floor lined with colorful sweets and enveloped in a sweet, happy smell, there is a store selling carefully selected chocolates from around the world.
The name of this unusual store, ‘c7h8n4o2’ translates to ‘Chokogakari’, means the person in charge of chocolate in Japanese. The name ‘c7h8n4o2’ comes from the chemical formula of theobromine, a unique bitter ingredient found in cacao beans.
“When I opened the store in Scramble Square, I needed a way to read the name, so I decided to call it ‘Chokogakari’ since I used to call myself ‘Everyone's Chokogakari’.”
Opened an online store in 2015, ‘c7h8n4o2’ opened its first store in Scramble Square in 2019, and is now a select store specializing in chocolate loved by chocolate lovers all over Japan.
For this interview, I spoke with the owner of c7h8n4o2, Ms. Suzuna Kodama.
Please enjoy her love for chocolate.
"Just because I like them"
As mentioned earlier, there are so many choices for both tea and chocolate.
Aroma of the cacao varies depending on the region of production. The balance of sweetness and bitterness varies depending on the content of cacao, sugar, and milk. The acidity created by fermentation. Differences in texture and melt-in-your-mouth created by the processing process. Enjoyment of appearance, such as decoration and package design.
When you visit a department store, you will be amazed at the variety of chocolates available, and the question of which one to choose will be a big headache for you.
Incidentally, in the case of tea, there are different tastes based on the balance of flavor, bitterness and astringency, and the aroma derived from the variety and processing, and we at FETC also select teas that have a unique appeal in terms of taste and aroma.
How does Kodama-sana select the chocolates she sells at her store?
“I don't have any particular preference. I don't import chocolates because of what kind of chocolates they are, but just because I like them.”
Kodama-san says with a laugh.
Kodama-san talks about her favorite chocolate.
At c7h8n4o2, either purchase chocolates imported by other companies or import them directly themselves, and the four brands they import directly are as follows.
・CHOCOLATARIA EQUADOR (Portugal)
・idilio origins (Switzerland)
・Claire Mari (Southern France)
“The first brand I started dealing with was CHOCOLATARIA EQUADOR. I was visiting a food exhibition in Portugal, and the hotel I was staying at was close by, so I came by for a few days. I started talking to the people at the store, and before I knew it, I was importing their products.”
When we asked her how she came to handle other brands, she told me that she started importing chocolates from a brand that originally did not handle chocolates because of her communication on Twitter, and that she took over the import business from the owner who was closing down his store in Japan because she liked the chocolates. She took over the import business from the owner who was closing down his shop in Japan because she liked the chocolate.
"CHOCOLATARIA EQUADOR has chocolates that contain layers of fruit ganache, and I love them. Recently, they have been focusing on growing cacao beans, and the chocolates made from their own cacao beans are also very appealing.”
“Barbero is located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, and that area is famous for hazelnuts, so the chocolates made from them are delicious.”
“Claire Mari is located in the south of France and is famous for its lemons, so their citronette, which is a candied lemon peel covered with chocolate, is very popular.”
When we asked for recommendations for each brand, Kodama-san quickly introduced us to some delicious looking chocolates. As for the brands that she imports herself, she goes there every year to meet the brand owners. Just listening to her, you can feel her love for each brand.
As we listened to her story, we realized that we had developed a sense of trust in c7h8n4o2's chocolates.
Chocolate chosen by someone who loves chocolate so much, must be delicious.
Trust begets trust. Selling "what you love".
When we asked her which brands she recommends, she answered without hesitation, “I like them all!” Kodama-san replied. As a presenter of chocolates, she offers a few choices from among the many brands around the world, selected with her own loving prejudice.
“When I recommend chocolates at the store, I always ask for a simple preference. Do you like it sweet or bitter? What do you drink most often? When do you eat them and who do you give them to? I then make a few recommendations and let the customer choose.”
Kodama-san, who knows all about the products, is the one who can make the recommendations. We think that the trust we have in c7h8n4o2's chocolates is born from the trust that Kodama-san has in them.
She has an unshakable love and trust for the products in the store. We believe that it is because of her recommendations that customers can go and choose chocolates with peace of mind.
Tea and chocolates are finished products when they are purchased, and we cannot alter them in any way. All we can do is to select products with love and convey their appeal to our customers.
We think that selling products that you can truly say you love, like Kodama-san, is the most important and most attractive aspect of the store.
Don't eat with knowledge, but with what you think is good
Finally, Kodama-san gave us some advice on how to enjoy chocolate.
“I think it's better to eat chocolate freely. Don't eat it based on knowledge, but eat what you think is delicious. Expensive chocolates are good, but chocolates from convenience stores are also delicious. What you want to eat varies from day to day, and it's best to eat what tastes good to you, not what someone else says tastes good.”
Kodama-san's story is surely not just about chocolate. Tea brewed in a teapot, tea bag, or PET bottle has its own good.
But if you want to taste good chocolate and good tea, please remember that there are stores like c7h8n4o2 and us. We will be happy to help you find your ideal chocolate or tea.
In the second part, we will show you how to enjoy c7h8n4o2's chocolate with FETC's tea. Chocolate is often associated with coffee, tea, and alcohol, but how can you enjoy it with sencha? We hope you enjoy it.
Link to online store of c7h8n4o2 is here.