Her mother Spanish and her father Senegalese, Miquel Coulibaly (Barcelona, 1981) is one of the names to bear in mind when it comes to experimental chocolate. The way he works with chocolate is based on trial and error, and the result is a prodigious recipe that includes a right selection of sweets such as water cake, sweet rice bread and cake mochis. Over the past few weeks, his name is on everyone’s lips for his Señor Brown business project, which he runs along with Khaled Abbas from Plateselector. We have interviewed him.
It is said you serve a unique chocolate recipe. How do you do it?
I try not to pay too much attention to what people say. One of the rules at Señor Brown is to create, I don’t want to know what others do. When Khaled asked me to start this adventure, we both agreed on starting from scratch.
“One of the rules at Señor Brown is to create, I don’t want to know what others do.”
Where did you start from?
My idea was to create an addictive product, the best chocolate drink in the world. Chocolate can’t be too sweet or too greasy so it doesn’t feel too heavy in the stomach. All what I do is based on uniqueness, on avoiding my product to be copied.
What do you use to make your chocolate?
Cocoa, water, muscovado sugar and salt, and, of course, a secret ingredient.
It’s kind of surprising that you recipe is made with water instead of milk. Why is that?
Lactose can turn anything into a milkshake, and that’s what I don’t want to do.
Is chocolate that bad for us as they say?
I think there’s a fundamental mistake here: what is good for us is cocoa, not chocolate. Industrially-produced chocolate split up cocoa grains and so they lose all their properties. So in this case it has few nutricional advantages.
“Chocolate is a natural stimulant and it produces serotonin, a chemical that make us feel good. It also has phenols, which are antioxidants, magnesium and phosphorus.”
And what are the properties of cocoa?
It’s a natural stimulant and it produces serotonin, a chemical that make us feel good. It also has phenols, which are antioxidants, magnesium and phosphorus.
And is chocolate fattening as it is popularly said?
Sugar and milk are fattening, especially milk powder. We use water and muscovado sugar—less than 8%.
Where’s the world’s best chocolate and cocoa?
First of all, Belgian chocolate is all about marketing. Now it’s fashionable and everyone buys it. The truth is that northern European countries have always managed the best South American plantations, so they always have the good coffee. For example, now there’s a lot of white cocoa in Peru and Swiss and Belgian companies are buying it exclusively. This is how they can make good chocolate, though they don’t use up all the raw material in the production process.
Is that then the world’s best chocolate?
My favorite is in Mexico. Right now Señor Brown is using African cocoa, but we want to travel to Mexico and manage small plantations using creole trees, which produce the best cocoa. I like things to go beyond what the palate says. The origin of the product and how it is treated is very important too.
“Chocolate has the power of absorbing the subconscious.”
Is it the same with water?
Water has memory. We will soon have our own bottles and will probably use spring water.
How would you define your experimental chocolate-making?
Chocolate has the power of absorbing the subconscious. Behind the concept of experimental chocolate-making there is a purer idea, the aim to try different things all the time and to not doing anything definitive. We try things, we make mistakes and try again. This is how it works. The drink is produced from scratch, with no previous recipe. In this context, experimental means mistakes are possible and welcome. People come to Señor Brown to taste mistakes.
How did you start experimenting with chocolate?
It as progressive. I started with illustration and comic, then I changed to painting and at 17 I started cooking. I soon began to experiment with confectionary at home. I realized I could easily self-teach myself and soon after that I started thinking how to make unique products without copying anyone. If you copy the masters, you’re making their recipes, not yours. I later made bread in Solsona with the Camps family and they asked me to make bonbons for Easter. This was seven years ago.
And then you launched your own bonbon brand Muremino…
I tried to link chocolate with Tibetan medicine. I used to see bonbons as capsules. I even made bonbons that combined gold and green sage leaves, which meant they were made on that same day; otherwise they’d be brown. That’s when I realized there was a void in the market: liquid chocolate.
Your favourte hotspots are…
Nomad because I like to start my day with good coffee. El Changuito (Passatge Pau, 13), an interesting antique shop that looks like a timeless place. The bakery where I work at the Born, very 80’s.
You never thought you’d end up…
Waking up at 6am every day to go to the bakery.
You can’t stop listening to…
Music is vital to me, and I like hypnotic melodies. I like hip hop because it’s hypnotic and raw at the same time, which fits quite well in what I do. I’ve been listening to ‘Prove me Wrong’ by Apolo Brown lately.
Being good at what you do and as a person. I wish there were an epidemic that would sweep away evil people.