José Ramón Castillois the founder of renowned “Que Bo! Chocolateria Mexicana Evolutiva”, a brand new way of producing and consuming chocolate in Latin America by combining artisanal technique with a “deep knowledge of modern cuisine”. He has since come up with a huge variety of flavour combinations, believing in the importance of using 100% natural ingredients to create his revolutionary chocolates. Ramón Castillo has been recognised by the Cergy Pontoise University in France, that gave him the title ‘Master Chocolatier of the Americas’ thus qualifying him as the leading cacao representative on this side of the world. As the spokesman for the preservation of cacao in his country – with the intention of increasing its con- sumption in Latin America, the United States and Europe – the Mexican equivalent of the Ministry of Agriculture in Colombia (SAGARPA) has described his initiative as the “greatest exponent of Mexican cacao”.
This year, Ramón Castillo has introduced his work to Colombia in the form of “Factor Cacao”, which uses only natural cacao from the country’s conflict zones. Located near the bustling Zona T, Factor Cacao opened its doors in January and has been hugely popular ever since. With fresh products being churned out every single day from the production room that sits at the back of this quirky little shop-café, it’s easy to be spoilt for choice as rows of beautifully vibrant chocolates and cakes greet you upon entering. Working with water, fruit pulp and herb infusions, the eight chocolatiers and pastry chefs at this authentic ‘dessert restaurant’ in the city, incorporate the real flavours of Colombia into each sweet. Clients can choose from an interesting array of options including arequipe, native fruits such as lulo, guanabana and guava, coffee (of course) and for the more adventurous chocolate-lover: aguardiente.
The attention-grabbing colours of the products are truly unique, and Ramón Castillo gives each piece its own identity by decorating it with a homemade, natural, fruit-based paint that he applies to the desserts with spray guns and brushes. This brilliant concept is what sets his work apart from the rest and is the reason behind his success.
In addition to chocolate gateaux and macaron, there are also savoury sandwich options, homemade ice cream and tropical fruit drinks. For Kevin Lordmendéz, who understudied with Castillo in Mexico City, states that their location near the Zona T does not equate to expensive items. “As we get our cacao from Arauca without intermediaries, this benefits not only the farmer, but, ultimately, the consumer. In Mexico, we work closely with growers in conflict zones, such as Chiapas,” says the young chef, who recently moved to Bogotá, and is in charge of training his Colombian colleagues in cacao.
The ingredients are about as fresh as they get. Factor Cacao has a fruit supplier in the Amazon that allows them to source completely natural produce, such as Arazá and Gulupa, while supporting the local economy. Ramón Castillo seeks to follow the current European trend of presenting chocolate as a food rather than a mere sweet indulgence. For this reason, his chefs use higher amounts of fruit pulp, less sugar and fillings without cream to create a healthier, albeit delicious product of the highest quality.
So, if you need to order a one-of-a-kind cake for an event, or if you simply fancy trying a refreshing water-based hot chocolate exclusive to this wonderful shop-café, head down to the Zona T and indulge your senses in the world of cacao.
Factor Cacao – Calle 85 No.12-50