Monday, February 6, 2012

Koko for the masses

I experimented with another recipe today using Koko Samoa. I call these Koko Popo Brownies. The jury is still out on whether these are any good, but if I get the 'go ahead' from my tasters, the recipe will be posted up here.

Now, let's play a little "what if?". 
Imagine that one day in the future, you walk into your local supermarket to buy some cocoa because you've been dying for some Koko Popo Brownies. 

In the cocoa section, you see Hershey's Dark Cocoa Powder, Droste, Van Houten. On the shelf below that is Valrhona, Ghirardelli, and Scharffen Berger. You look further down, trying to find a name you can pronounce, and down there, right next to the Nestle and Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix is - could it be? No way! rub your eyes in disbelief and look again. Sure enough, it's Koko Samoa! You grab a box and happily skip home to bake your brownies...

Do you think we'll ever see the day when we can buy koko samoa anywhere, everywhere?

Here are some ideas I came up with for making this possibility a reality:

Control the quality
Make sure the koko quality is high and consistent. I get so disappointed when I buy a lump of koko that is filled with burnt nibs.

Change the mould
Enough with the styrofoam cups already! While the cup-sized block of koko represents good value for money and is easy to produce, it's not a sophisticated enough mould for international marketing, unless the cup is dedicated packaging and is used as a marketing ploy (ie. 'For a hot cup of goodness, try Koko Samoa - cup included'). Also a lump of koko is not user-friendly. People these days want instant drinks, ones that are easy to prepare and require minimum effort.

Which leads me to my next suggestion: 

Offer single serve tablets
I felt a little stupid making a recipe for koko samoa (the drink) because it's not really something Samoan people measure. But the feedback has been that it's a useful recipe. People who didn't grow up drinking the stuff were unsure about the proportions of koko to water to sugar. So how about selling a bag filled with tablets of koko that are just enough for one cup. If you want to make three cups of koko, throw in three tablets. What could be simpler than that?

Add sugar
Instead of selling tablets of just koko, why not pound the sugar together with the koko. That way, there's no guesswork in how much sugar to add to your drink - one tablet takes care of everything except the milk, which is optional.

Add flavouring
How about having plain tablets and flavoured tablets? I've seen organic vanilla beans being grown in Samoa, as well as ginger, and chilli. These could be added to the tablets for an extra layer of flavour. The Mexicans do it with cinnamon and almonds, so why can't we? 

Offer two grades of koko
Why not have finely ground and coarse (eg. with pegu) koko. Not everyone is a fan of pegu (nibs), so a finer koko might appeal to those that want the taste of koko without the accompanying sediment. 

Give the tablets a unique shape
My final idea is to give the tablets of koko a catchy shape - How about little cacao pods? Or mini Samoan fale (houses)? Tiny coconuts?

What do you think? And do you have any ideas to add? Jot them below and maybe a Samoan koko producer will stumble across our ideas and do something to raise the culinary profile of this wonderfully unique ingredient.


  1. How can they sell koko beans so that it can be ground like coffee beans? Orr you know.. chuck them in the percolator? (Can u tell I don't drink coffee? lol I don't know how that stuff works).... but if these beans were available at all the cafes I could actually order something other than soy hot chocolate... yeahh?? lol Love your ideas! Too bad my cousins don't ku'i koko anymore or I would pass on your notes :)

    1. Not long before Koko Samoa breaks onto the international scene...I'm sure of it! And actually, I think the guy from Wilex Samoa might have read my post, because they are now selling Vanilla Flavoured koko as well as Instant that's progress!