Following The Cacao & Chocolate & Trail in Madagascar: Chocolaterie Robert

Published On: July 6, 20234.1 min read

We all remember the first time we became aware of the wonderful complexity of fine flavour cacao. Mine came in the shape of a piece of “Sambirano Gold” chocolate from Willie’s Cacao. Citrus acidity, cranberry flavour notes. I was blown away by this first conscious experience, much like others before and after me.

I recently had the honor to be appointed as one of the members of the ICCO Ad Hoc Panel on Fine Flavour Cocoa. Madagascar graciously hosted the meeting of the twelve experts in Antananarivo, on the 13th and 14th of June. I decided to use this opportunity to extend my stay and pay a long due visit to our partners in Madagascar. Follow my adventures on the island of a thousand smells in this and other upcoming editions of our Cocoa Stories.

Our first stop: Chocolaterie Robert in Antananarivo, the historical chocolate factory located in the heart of the capital city.

One of the many photographs of the original production facility adorning the walls of Chocolaterie Robert

Chocolaterie Robert has been producing fine chocolate and cacao products in Madagascar since 1940. It is the largest chocolate producer on the island. It is also considered the first artisan chocolate maker to dedicate itself to promoting and enhancing the aromatic profiles of cocoa from Madagascar. Their pioneering approach preceded many other by decades. It would take more than 50 years for Madagascar to became a household name in the fine flavour chocolate industry.

Back in 1940 the factory exclusively used cacao grown on the vast plains of Brickaville, a sugar town located 100 km. from Tamatave. Mr. Robert sold the factory in 1948 and afterwards the Chocolaterie changed ownership several times.

After the Malagasy independence in 1977, the factory was sold to the Ramanandraibe family, one of the first Malagasy families who actively contributed to the post-colonial economic and industrial revival of the island. Chocolaterie Robert became an entirely Malagasy operation and nowadays is part of a group of 10 companies named the Groupe Ramanandraibe.

The Chocolaterie owns a plantation in the valley of Sambirano to ensure that the quality of the cacao beans they use complies with their high-quality standards. The factory uses most of the plantation’s cacao production to manufacture its own range of chocolate and semi-processed products.

In 2015 the Ramanandraibe and TAF groups acquired MAVA Plantation – 635 hectares of single estate cacao farms throughout the upper and lower Sambirano Valley. The factory produces award winning chocolate from most of these farms under the brand name Chocolat Madagascar.

Under the expert guidance of Hery Andriamampianina, the Technical Director, hundreds of employees produce chocolate bars, bonbons, candy bars and semi processed products including liquor, powder and butter. Hery’s knowledge, passion, dedication, and eye for detail can be found in each and every one of the chocolates produced by Chocolaterie Robert.

Technical Director, Mr. Hery Andriamampianina, and Ms. Stanyella Ratsimbaz, Head of Quality

Roasting is done in four state of the art roasters installed two years ago. The roasting profiles showcase beautifully the uniqueness of each of the flavour characteristics of the beans Chocolaterie Robert works with.

Local products like cashews, coffee, chili peppers, ginger, ylang ylang, passion fruit, lemon grass, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper and combava (kaffir lime) leaves and rinds are incorporated into different recipes – a colourful celebration of the flavours and aromas of Madagascar.

These bonbons are sold in Madagascar and contain ganaches made with local ingredients.

Enrobing of nuts and dried fruit is done exclusively by hand.

Chocolate bar production. After tempering, the chocolate bars go through a cooling tunnel and are removed from their moulds.

Packaging machine: a colourful ending to our colourful visit through the factory!

Our last stop was the store where we stocked up on a variety of bonbons and bars – all representations of the diversity of flavours of Madagascar. Curious about these flavours? Check out the Chocolaterie Robert and Chocolat Madagascar websites to find out where you can find their chocolate near you: and

Finally, we would again like to thank the team at Chocolaterie Robert and especially Hery for organizing our visit and dedicating their time to take us through their factory.

On our next Cocoa Story, join me on a visit to the Sambirano Valley where we will be visiting emblematic cocoa plantations!

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