Theo & Brom's Origins: A Kickstarter Success

Hello, everyone! My name is Myey.
I am the founder of Theo & Brom, the makers of the world's first Belgian Tableya.

What was once just an idea in my head, I now hold between my hands.

This is the very first sealed box of the Belgian Tableya.

This little cacao idea has become a dream come true in a span of 3 months. 

Now we're taking this little box containing a big cacao dream to Kickstarter, and get them within your reach. 

Inspiration led us this far, and I believe, so were you! 

For all great things in this world, inspiration is needed from one another. 

I am grateful for you taking time to read about our story and how you can also be a part of our Kickstarter journey

Be the pioneer batch for the US and Canada!

Let's embark on this Kickstarter journey, shall we? 🇺🇸🇨🇦

BUT FIRST, WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A TABLEYA?

Quoting the industry.gov.ph's website:

"The Philippine tablea is defined as roasted, ground and molded nibs of fermented pure (100%) cacao beans without added ingredients and additives. It is also a cocoa mass and cocoa liquor made from cacao beans that are fermented, dried, roasted, ground then molded into blocks, balls, discs, or tablets.

It is traditionally used in the Philippines to make a hot chocolate beverage using a wooden mixing implement or stirrer."

Traditional Tsokolate Tableya | Photo credits to Yummy.ph

It's a hot chocolate drink loved by many Filipinos, including myself. Because of its strong cocoa flavor having been made with 100% pure cacao, some add sugar and milk to tame its taste while some love enjoying it pure. 

It plays a big part in the Philippines' traditional chocolate scene, accounting for 2000 tons of cacao beans made into tablea every year. 

AND WHY A BELGIAN TABLEYA?

I believe it is no coincidence that I moved to Belgium, a country known and hailed for their chocolates. 

I dreamed up the possibility of bridging traditions that celebrated one's roots. One part from my heritage, the other, from my new home. 

It just so happened to be chocolate. And that's how the idea began. 

I asked:

"What if we could source fine cacao beans from the Philippines, create a recipe inspired by our traditional tsokolate drink, and handcraft it with Belgian chocolate-making expertise?"

I was on a mission to bridge the best of both worlds. 

That's how the world's first Belgian Tableya came to be. 

ALL ABOUT ROOTS: THEO & BROM AND TABLE(Y)A

Our mission of bridging the best of both worlds inspired our mantra: Rooting for one's roots. 

Thus our name was derived from the plant’s scientific name itself: Theobroma Cacao. 

The spelling "tableya" instead of "tablea" was also an intentional move, because I wanted  to make sure it is easily read by those who are not familiar with the word and what it is. 

WHAT MAKES OUR BELGIAN TABLEYA SPECIAL?

There are many reasons why our Rounds are very special. Mostly it's summed up into 8 words: EAT ME, DRINK ME, I'LL MAKE YOU HAPPY.

TABLEYA TALES: HOW IT ALL BEGAN

It all started with a Filipino and Belgian union -- no, not the cacao yet. I married the love of my life, Matthias, after a full year of being digital nomads. As we settled in Belgium, my brain restlessly squeezed-out e-commerce ideas to launch.

 A typical morning at home while brainstorming for ideas.

The little cacao dream came at random one day, during a conversation about chocolate. It struck me that Matthi (and maybe most Belgians) have not yet heard of the tableya. 

I searched online and found only a few resources about our native tsokolate, most of them circulating within Filipino publications and audiences. 

PITCHING THE DREAM

With my little cacao dream in mind, I went to work and pitched the idea to almost every chocolatier I could find in Belgium. I sent my proposal either through their website, or the email address listed on their page.

Everyone either said no, declined to help develop a recipe, or just didn't respond.

I eventually ran out of emails to send my proposal to. A few hours after, a reply came through.

And it was a YES.

The e-mail that changed it all.

It came from Dr. Zoi Papalexadratou, a well-known figure in the cacao industry, for she developed the protocols for optimized post-harvest processing of fine cacao.

She believed in my little cacao dream, and pledged to help me. That dream transformed into our Belgian Tableya project.

L-R: Myey Moens (Founder) and Dr. Zoi Papalexandratou (Lead Cacao Advisor)

DEVELOPING THE RECIPE

It took around 2 months for us to get things going for our Belgian Tableya project. One of the most crucial elements was prototyping and recipe creation. At this stage, we brought in the chocolate-making expertise of Mario Vandeneede, one of the best, award-winning chocolate artisans from Belgium. 

Myey Moens (Founder) with award-winning chocolate maker, Mario Vandeneede.

TASTE AND TEXTURE

We all agreed that taste and texture were the two most important aspects in making our final recipe. The idea was to create product that could be enjoyed either as a snack or a beverage -- melt-in-your-mouth or melt-in-your-drink

We were ambitious enough to aim for a finished product that showcased the distinct aromas and flavors of Philippine cacao beans, and have a mouth-feel that we call delicately unrefined.

Taking a whiff of the aromas of freshly roasted cacao

During recipe creation, we were able to observe the whole bean-to-bar process. This artisanal way of making chocolate involves a painstaking series of steps such as roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, conching, tempering, molding, and wrapping.

To show you exactly how that process goes, here is a video with actual footage on the day we were creating the recipe.

WATCH: BELGIAN TABLEYA IN THE MAKING

At this stage, we still didn't have the final molds for our tableyas. So we had them in varying shapes: bars, cylinders, and bites. Our focus was to perfect the taste and texture that we wanted, before deciding on the final look and feel of our tableyas. 

We closed that day with our recipe finalized, and a bunch of samples for us to try. At this point, we were only planning to launch in Belgium. But things turned towards a different direction because of one post on Facebook.

UNEXPECTED EXCITEMENT

I remember typing the caption of this post before going to bed. It was midnight, and I had spent most of the day thinking about branding ideas for our tableyas. My mind was tired and so was my body. It was purely out of habit that I'd share in length on my social feeds.

I clicked POST and went to bed.

 

The post that started it all

The next morning, I woke up to an insane number of notifications from my post. In the comments section were either messages of congratulations or inquiries about how to order. My chat inbox was also flooded -- some asking where to purchase and others even volunteering to distribute.

 

That's when we decided to launch not only in Belgium, but also to Europe and the Philippines.

Before the excitement began, we were only planning to produce a small batch of 10 kilos, which made around 160 Tableya rounds.

 

Delicious rows of Belgian Tableya Rounds

We had to urge our chocolate-maker to double production within a span of 3 weeks! In just 21 days, we ended up producing more than 60 kilos of Belgian Tableya, to keep up with the orders and rising demand. Imagine, that's more than 1000 Tableya Rounds!

NORTH AMERICA'S CALL

In the middle of it all, North America beckoned! We have been receiving countless of messages from friends and family urging us to ship these goodies to the US and Canada. We knew we had to scale fast, and scale quick.

The clamor for our Belgian Tableyas prompted our research as to how we can officially expand and serve our customers in that region. This is how this campaign all came-to-be.

(Above is a video of the very first Belgian Tableya Rounds ever made. )