Meet the Maker - Pana Chocolate
Pana Chocolate hand-makes organic and vegan chocolate and was founded in 2012 by Pana Barbounis. Growing up in a Greek migrant family, Pana’s life has always been centred around the love and sharing of food. Pana Chocolate was developed with the intention of recreating this love and devotion to quality, in a chocolate that truly loved your insides and the Earth - chocolate for everyone.
Handmade and hand wrapped with love, the result is smooth, rich and silky with a little bit of unexpected!
Tell us a few words about the launching of your business.
Our aim was to create a quality product suitable for people with various dietary requirements and allergies, but also to promote and prioritise sustainable practice. I spent months locked away researching the highest quality organic ingredients available, playing with the textures and flavour profiles and taste testing on friends and family!
The first orders were hand-delivered off the back of my Vespa - and although we’ve now grown to servicing thousands of retailers around the world, Pana Chocolate still retains its original principles and is completely made by hand.
Tell us a bit about your ingredients and how you source them.
We use whole, natural, certified organic ingredients sourced straight from their country of origin including Peru, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and Philippines. We support ethical and sustainable sources of income for local workers and all of our ingredients are produced adhering to fair trade practices.
Our chocolate is also completely handmade – which means zero machinery. Each bar is infused with a whole lot of love, from the moment the cacao pod is picked till the moment they are wrapped and packaged in our completely recyclable boxes printed with vegetable inks. Plus, the profits from every bar contribute towards the planting of native trees, with 50,000 trees planted to date!
Do you still eat your products?
Every day! The whole team are regularly involved in product development and tasting, and it's uncommon for a bar not to be open on a desk at all times. There's a flavour for every mood!
What is your favourite product from your range and why?
It changes every day - but you can bet on me carrying a Mint bar on me at all times.
Describe a typical day.
Our amazing production team start at around 6am, where every vanilla pod is scraped, cold pressed cacao sifted and fig chopped by hand. They will usually work on one flavour a day, and are separated into the makers, wrappers and packers. The company works in our open-plan office or on the road, so for the rest of the staff there's a lot of chocolate, coffee, collaboration and laughs.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most and why?
The people and their stories. Food brings people together, and when you create something with so much love - it honestly brings joy to every day.
What have been some memorable business challenges along the way?
Logistics are always fun! We deliver to over 20 countries worldwide, so nutting out the complete supply chain when we were only 2 years old was a massive hurdle. As we deal with only the highest quality, organic ingredients we are also at the mercy of environmental factors - i.e. nut shortages or failed crops, so we also have to navigate these challenges as they arise.
Who are some other producers that you admire and why?
Rebel Kitchen are incredibly progressive and do a lot to educate the organic and plant-based market - whilst retaining a sense of humour.
mouth-watering to share?