TIn the winter of 2017, on our first trip to Copenhagen, we visited an unassuming restaurant in Frederiksberg named Acacia after being recommended by a dear friend. It boasted a simple and straightforward vegetarian menu that was incredibly delicious. We still daydream about the butternut squash that we had there.
A couple of years later, we returned to Copenhagen with a baby in tow (Hi Cody!), eager to return to Acacia. However, when we made our way back to Frederiksberg, we discovered that Acacia was no longer there. In its place was a cafe named Aster, which was serving up delicious and artful raw cakes and desserts. We were sad to see Acacia gone, but Aster was a sweet salve in its place.
In the summer of 2021, two years after we opened the doors to our Copenhagen store, a friend came to visit us, bringing along with her a beautifully tempered, smooth, and shiny chocolate bar covered in a paper wrapper with the word “Leife” printed on it in simple and elegant cursive. On the wrapper was a detailed description about the ingredients, the sourcing, and the story behind the business. We were enamored and curious, and headed to the Internet to search up more about this chocolate maker. The results surprised and delighted us.
Leife Chocolate is a single origin small batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Frederiksberg, Denmark. Each bar is made from scratch using traditional methods and the finest ingredients sourced from single estate cacao growers or directly through single companies with a transparent supply chain. The process of making each bar is a labor of love, one that owner Alice Langermann is proud to undertake.
Our deep dive didn’t just yield information about the making of Leife chocolates. We also discovered that Leife wasn’t Alice’s first venture. In fact, prior to running Leife, she had run two other businesses in the past: Acacia and Aster. The common thread running through all these small businesses of Alice is that they’re run with the utmost care, detail, and dedication to flavor. Unbeknownst to us, we were lucky enough to have met her along different points of her food journey through stumbling upon her wonderful culinary creations.
We’re honored to sit down with Alice and speak with her about her current adventure, Leife Chocolate.
// Alice is wearing the Signature Panel Pocekts Shirt Jacket.
7115: What brought you to chocolate and how was Leife born?
Alice: My journey to chocolate started from my love of chocolate itself, the magic it holds, rich in history from the ancient Mayan civilisations, which warms our spirits and opens our hearts. Leife was born as an expression of wanting to connect people to the magic of cacao, and create an honest chocolate from which both cocoa beans and sugar were carefully sourced and being able to show each stage in processing here at our workshop.
7115: Sourcing is important for any small business and we know you are committed to seeking out the best ingredients and also partnering with people that share your view of a more intentional and sustainable approach. Can you tell us a bit about your sourcing process and what goes on before the making of your chocolates and desserts?
Alice: Of course, for the cocoa beans and coconut sugar we are sourcing them from Kablon Farms (cocoa beans) and Sox Foods (coconut sugar) in the Philippines. Estella Duque, whose uncle is the co-owner of Kablon farms, was of primary assistance in establishing links to the farms, and scheduled all the exports/imports, and provided us with great knowledge of their practices, and photos of the farms, as she'd been to visit multiple times (very useful as we started in lockdown and international travel to the Philippines has only just opened up!) Both farms are committed to sustainable practices such as multi-cropping and are organic certified so don't use chemical fertilisers. For all our ingredients in general we're sourcing organic and purchasing from the growers or as close to the growers as we can, for example our almonds from a regenerative growing project in Spain working on replenishing their soil health (Almendrehesa).
7115: The nature of your craft is manual and everything is handmade. Do you have any particular moments about this process that you love?
Alice: So much! The smell from the just roasted and cracked beans, which intensifies upon adding to the melanger, the unmolding of the finished bars when the temper is just right, and seeing/hearing people's reaction when they taste the chocolate.
7115: What inspires your other desserts?
Alice: I'm inspired by creating desserts that are as nourishing and nutritionally dense as possible, and creating them so you feel so good after eating them. Generally, the inspiration comes from either an idea based on a classic dessert, such as a cheesecake, or is based around how I can incorporate a fruit of the season or special ingredient such as chaga into a dessert in the most delicious way possible!
Alice (continue): I'd love to tell you more about the making process too - for the chocolate it's a repeated process once the cocoa beans come in (in a fermented and dried state which is done at Kablon Farms). Firstly, it's sorting through the beans for secondary quality control, then roasting to bring out the flavour intensity to our desired note. After that, the beans are cracked (where the husk and nib falls apart), and winnowed (where the husk and nib are separated by air). Then nibs are ground in a stone grinder melanger until completely smooth, whereupon we add the coconut sugar and grind some more. Once fully smooth (molten texture), we empty it out of the melanger and sieve to remove tiny unground particles. And finally, temper the chocolate and mold it into bars. We're proud to have not thrown any husks away, and so far they've found many diverse homes, being used in gardens for fertiliser, brewed as tea, made into desserts, and made into the most delicious shoyu by Reduced!
( Photo credit: Leife )
7115: Describe the Leife community for us. And without a year-round storefront, what are ways you stay connected with your community?
Alice: The Leife community is amazing, and consists of so many kind and lovely people, who are and have been regulars almost since day 1. With our store only open on Saturdays, and markets not year round, we stay connected through word of mouth from our stockists, who we deliver our bars (and sometimes other goodies) to, along with Instagram on social media.
7115: Send it forward. What's another small business you love?
Alice: Nørrebro Kolonial, on Jægersborggade, Mirian's shop is like an Aladdin's Cave and you'll always leave with a huge smile and some newly gained wisdom.