Open: Tuesday – Friday 08:30-12h30 & 13h30 – 18h30 and Saturday 09h00 – 18h00 Closed Sunday and Monday Owners: Geert and Els Decoster
Chocolates on display at Centho Chocolates
When chocolatier Geert Decoster decided to open his own shop, he wanted to do something unique with chocolate. Origin chocolate was just being introduced into the Belgian market, and Geert immediately saw the potential. Origin chocolate comes from a single geographic source of origin such as Ecuador or Congo or Papua New Guinea. Today Centho uses chocolate from all over the world: Central and South America, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. A map of all these locations can be found on the Centho web site http://www.centho-chocolates.com/en/world.php
Like wine and coffee, the location of where cocoa beans are grown as well as type of bean defines its flavor. Geert believes that the flavor of the chocolate itself should be the dominant taste and not the filling. According to Geert, “I know a chocolate is just right when a customer says they love the chocolate but can’t figure out what the filling flavor is.”
Geert Decoster, owner and chocolatier of Centho Chocolates
Geert is always on the look out for interesting, new, or innovative flavor combinations. He jokes that his wife says he’s always working because everything he eats, drinks, smells, and sees can become a source of inspiration.
To create a new chocolate, Geert begins by studying the flavors inherent in a specific chocolate and then designing a filling that subtly compliments that flavor.
The signature Centho chocolate is enrobed. This means it is made from a slab not a mould and then enrobed (dipped) in chocolate. The reason Geert chooses to make enrobed chocolates is because he can control the size of the chocolate, the number of layers of filling, and the thickness of each layer. Enrobed chocolate is traditionally used for firmer style fillings. Decoster has created new techniques to incrementally firm up soft fillings while maintaining their taste and feel. For example, he has a line of enrobed salted caramels where each bite is a balance of chocolate and caramel.
Centho chocolates are enrobed so that the flavor combinations never overpower the taste of the chocolate itself.
Working with so many different Origin chocolates is more complicated than working with just one or two types of chocolate. Each chocolate has special production considerations and flavor sensitivities. This is why most chocolatiers only use one or two types of Origin chocolate in their collection. Centho, on the other hand, is exclusively Origin. In fact, Geert is considered one of the trailblazers in Belgium for using Origin chocolate.
In defining Centho Chocolates, Geert was not only drawn to the tastes of Origin chocolate, but also its story. The rise of Origin chocolate has brought public awareness to the human abuses associated with cocoa production around the world. He feels strongly about doing what they can to stop such atrocities. Though Centho is only one shop, they believe that they can make a difference through responsible purchasing. First, Centho only uses chocolate suppliers who have signed Charters against child slavery. And second, Centho uses cocoa beans mostly grown in Fairtrade and Rainforest Protected areas.
Els Decoster manages the shop.
Geert opened his retail shop in 2002 in a beautifully renovated space below his home in Duisburg. Though Decoster acknowledges that Duisbury (near Teuvren) may not be the best location for a retail shop, he and his family love the area. And Centho’s is a family business with Geert designing and making the chocolates and his wife Els managing the shop. Moreover, the name Centho was derived from the first three letters of their children’s names: daughter “Centa” and son “Thomas.”
Geert uses his loyal customers who visit the Duisburg store to test new flavor combinations. But the Duisburg shop is only one part of their business. They also sell their chocolates at other retail locations such as the Maison des Maîtres Chocolatiers on the Grand Place in Brussels and supply chocolates to some of the finer restaurants in town. And finally Centho is fully engaged in exporting chocolates around the world.
To learn more about the Centho story, check out their YouTube movie.