From Bean to Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate

5 May 2024
From Bean to Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate

Gusto writer Nur Toprakoğlu had a delicious interview with Ebru İpekçi, the founder of Butterfly Chocolate, Turkey’s first artisan chocolate brand with an international award.

I grew up in a family that loves to eat, talk about food and think about flavors. The center of our home was always the kitchen… Flavors and smells have always been very important to me. For instance, I remember the day I tasted my first dark chocolate as if it were today. And I would like to say hello to Grandpa Fuat who introduced me to this extraordinary flavor.

The reason I am writing these lines is that Butterfly Chocolate, one of the most important brands in the artisan chocolate world in Turkey, celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Ebru İpekçi, the founder of the brand that started out as a patisserie and entered the field of handmade chocolate, talked about how Butterfly has grown and flourished in 20 years and how they managed to become the first Turkish chocolate brand to be awarded an international prize. Here is the inspiring story of Butterfly Chocolate, the pioneer of artisan chocolate in Turkey, and at the end of the article, a delicious recipe awaits you to enjoy after dinner…  

From Bean To Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate

Let’s begin with your story?

The story of Butterfly Chocolate started in 2003. We started out as a boutique patisserie because we wanted to work in a creative field without borders. We grew Butterfly by realizing many firsts in Turkey. As we continued to explore and follow the innovations in the world, we entered the field of handmade chocolate and we continue to work in the artisan chocolate field, which we pioneered, with our collections and “bean to bars”.

You started out as a patisserie, where and how did you meet cocoa beans?

For Butterfly, we always follow international developments. We always have one foot in fairs all over the world. At the fairs we attended, we discovered what a magical world chocolate and beans have. Considering that this field is very open to development in Turkey, we found ourselves in the vast world of cocoa beans.

What was the state of artisan chocolate in Turkey when you started out?

Butterfly Chocolate completed its 20th anniversary last year. When we started out, artisan chocolate making was not widespread in Turkey, at least in terms of producers. Of course, the concept of artisan chocolatier was known by people who traveled abroad and did tastings there, but there was no widespread production of it. Seeing this, we started as a handmade chocolatier and then step by step we continued as a “roaster”, a brand that roasts its own beans.

From Bean To Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate
Butterfly Chocolate


Can you tell us about the “bean to bar” process?

The “Bean to bar” movement aims to give producers full control over every stage of chocolate making, starting from the cocoa beans to the final product. At the heart of this movement is the idea that producers select the beans themselves, process them, roast them and produce the final product. This gives them more control over the quality, aroma and flavor of the chocolate at all stages. The “bean to bar” movement also emphasizes sustainability, fair trade and ethical values.

We identify the beans we use in Butterfly Bean to Bar chocolates after a rigorous research process. We currently source our beans from Bejofo Estate in the Sambirano Valley in Madagascar, Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania and Abocfa Cooperative in Ghana. One of the biggest reasons for choosing these producers is that they produce beans of high quality and authenticity. These farms are preferred by well-known chocolate houses and chefs around the world and are known for their quality beans.

Sourced from farms, sun-dried and fermented, the high-quality beans undergo a process of dehulling and moderate roasting. They are then prepared to be molded with the desired cocoa percentages. All these processes bring out the natural flavor notes of the beans, giving the chocolate its final shape without the use of additives. At this stage, we take care to bring out the terroir properties of the cocoa and the natural aromas of the bean in the best possible way.

From Bean To Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate
Butterfly Chocolate


What is the philosophy behind the chocolates in the Butterfly showcase?

The most important thing for us at Butterfly Chocolate is to produce high quality, artisanal chocolates that reflect the natural flavors and terroir characteristics of the beans. In this sense, we meticulously carry out every step from bean selection to the creation of our recipes. This is the idea behind switching all our chocolates to “bean to bar” chocolates. At the same time, “bean to bar” production requires being very aware of sustainability and ethics. We examine the farms where all the beans we choose for Butterfly come from in this sense. On the other hand, Butterfly is a chocolatier that produces collections with a haute-couture approach. In addition to our “bean to bar” chocolates, we are moving forward with spring-summer and fall-winter collections. In our ingredients, we blend chocolate with fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and local flavors. In addition, our selection includes fit, ketogenic and alcoholic chocolates for different dietary preferences.

I am wondering about your approach to sustainability, as far as I know, there is a tea made from the shells of cocoa beans that you use for your chocolates…

As part of the “Bean to bar” movement, sustainability is an important issue for us. In this sense, I would like to talk about the farms from which we source our cocoa beans. As I mentioned, we source the beans we use in Butterfly “Bean to bar” chocolates from Bejofo Estate in the Sambirano Valley in Madagascar, Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania and Abocfa Cooperative in Ghana. These producers are known for their quality beans as well as their ethical and sustainable production approach. They produce in accordance with fair trade rules and make supporting local communities and paying attention to environmental values a part of their production.

For example, Kokoa Kamili continues to support three thousand small farmers in the Kilombero Valley by buying wet cocoa beans from them at high prices. Likewise, Bejofo Estate helps to ensure that production takes place on fair terms. It also provides land for farm workers to be self-sufficient and grow their own food for their families.

On the other hand, we have Cascara tea that you mentioned. Cascara tea, obtained from the shells of the beans we use for our chocolates, is an example of our awareness of waste. We offer the opportunity to taste this tea in our branches and we also offer it for sale in packaged form. On the other hand, we collaborated with a young artist, Buse Bilgişin, for our 20th anniversary. Bilgişin prepared a special limited-edition tray for us using shells.

From Bean To Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate


Let’s talk a little bit about chocolate, what kind of products do you have? Do you make special chocolates for you?

At Butterfly Chocolate, we can say that every chocolate is special for us. First of all, we have 58 percent, 69 percent, 74 percent and 80 percent “bean to bar” chocolates. These are followed by our collections as I mentioned. We have collection boxes that we create with different spices, fruits and nuts. In addition, our special products include our Party Slab, which measures 40×60 cm and is 54% dark crushed chocolate with pistachios, our Hugues Pouget cake with a special recipe, with crepe lace underneath and chocolate mousse on top, and Cold Chocolate, one of our innovations.

Eating chocolate makes you happy, but does the production process also make you happy?

Of course… Chocolate production is a creative field. In a field like this, where the possibilities are endless, creating something from scratch, trying a recipe is a process as pleasing as the final product itself. Following the trends in the world, adding new flavors to each other and turning it into a tangible product is both pleasing and fun. It is also very exciting to be able to share this production with chocolate lovers without waiting thanks to our branches.

From Bean To Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate


What kind of consultancy do you get on chocolate and from whom?

In our early years, we worked with Hugues Pouget, pastry chef of Michelin-starred chef Guy Savoy, on our signature “Praline Feuillete” cake, which we still serve to our guests. When we launched our first chocolate collection, we received consultancy from international chocolate consultant Jean Marc Scribante. Since we started roasting our own beans, we have been part of a network of “bean to bar” producers all over the world. For this reason, we benefit from the exchange of information and ideas within this network instead of a special consultancy. We filter the information we receive from “bean to bar” producers from different places, different cultures, and we experience and feed each other.

You have many awards and last year you received the “Best Chocolate Shop” award from Gault&Millau…

In 2023, when we celebrated our 20th anniversary, we became the first chocolatier from Turkey to receive an award from an international competition. First of all, we were awarded Silver and Bronze awards in the “International Chocolate Awards”, one of the world’s most widely attended and largest competitions, with two of our chocolates within the scope of Europe, Middle East and Africa chocolates. 58 percent Tanzania received the silver award in the category of Micro Scale Plain/Single Origin Milk Chocolate Bars, while 69 percent Ghana Lemon was awarded bronze in the category of Black Chocolate Flavored with Brewing and Special Flavors.

We were then awarded three prizes by the Academy of Chocolate, which brings together Britain’s leading chocolate experts. 58 percent Tanzania and 80 percent Madagascar received silver and bronze awards in the Plain Dark Chocolate Category, and 69 percent Ghana Lemon received bronze in the Flavored Dark Chocolate Category.

Finally, we were awarded the title of “The Best Chocolate Shop” by Gault&Millau, one of the two most recognized and appreciated guides in the world in the field of gastronomy.

From Bean To Chocolate: Butterfly Chocolate


Chocolate is a fascinating food not only for its taste but also for its smell. What kind of details should you pay attention to while tasting?

First of all, a good chocolate should make a sound that we can describe as “crack” during tasting. When tasting, you need to melt the chocolate under your tongue when you first put it in your mouth, this is where you will understand the flavor notes of the cocoa. In chocolate produced with properly fermented, properly roasted beans, the flavor notes of the cocoa bean can be felt. These flavor notes are divided into earthy, floral, fruity, etc. If at least one of these notes cannot be detected, if a flat taste is detected, it means that the bean has been over-roasted and has lost its terroir characteristics. For example, in our chocolate made from Ghanaian beans, a coconut note comes from afar thanks to the terroir characteristics of the farm.

What is your favorite chocolate pairing? 

Butterfly Chocolate 100 percent Ghana Raisin is my favorite pairing lately. I also love crunchy flavors like crepe lace, sun-dried fruits and caramel.

Which drink do you think is the best accompaniment to chocolate?

Coffee, cognac and whiskey.

Can you give us a recipe with chocolate?

I would like to give you a recipe that can be easily made at home and served after dinner. After melting Butterfly Chocolate 80 percent Madagascar bar with bain-marie method, we mix it with 250 ml of cream. At the last stage, optionally add cognac and serve with a spoon in small glasses.