There’s a lot more to chocolate than you probably know. Annie Rupani, owner of Cacao & Cardamom, is an expert on the topic. In her luxury chocolate shop she crafts chocolate to the highest standard with all-natural ingredients and spices. Cacao & Cardamom uses ‘new ideas and techniques to open an infinite world of possibility and change the way you see chocolate.’ We spoke to Rupani about sharing her passion with the people of Houston.
What is the most unusual request you’ve had?
To create a chocolate swan for a customer whose daughter was performing in the play The Ugly Duckling.
My ultimate goal is to spread the love of chocolate throughout the United States and beyond. I truly believe the aesthetics and flavors of my confections are unique internationally, and I have the determination to create a chocolate brand name that is recognizable on a much larger scale. I would like to raise the standard of chocolate, and create a line of chocolate bars and chocolate spread that is accessible through the mainstream market. Unfortunately, most of what exists now in the market is mass-produced with low quality ingredients. As I grow, I’m determined to keep the standards of all natural ingredients, no added sugar, fresh fruit purees, and the best French chocolate couverture. I ultimately want to create a commonplace for flavors like Cardamom Rosewater and Chinese Five Spice praline, so we can open people’s minds through their palates.
What has been your biggest obstacle to success?
It seems like the biggest challenge so far is the general lack of knowledge about cacao or fine chocolate. There are a number of people every day who don’t really know what they’re getting themselves into when they walk into the shop, because they’ve never experienced a place that is solely about chocolate in many different forms and from more than 17 different countries. We’re trying to change the common perceptions around chocolate. When someone comes in and proclaims they don’t like chocolate, it becomes my goal to find them something they would like. It’s almost like wine tasting, and in reality, chocolate actually has more flavor notes than the world of wine. I was initially very impatient and frustrated that very few people knew what cardamom or a chocolate bon-bon was, but I began to take it as an opportunity for teaching and conversation.
I find that most of my customers are very receptive to learning, and they tend to purchase more with increased knowledge of our products. It’s also a great way to create a lasting relationship with the customer. I’ve created a ‘Spice Bar,’ which is a counter with ten different spices to smell and learn about, so that people have an opportunity to experience the spices before deciding if they would like to taste it infused in a chocolate. I also have cacao pods and canvases of the chocolate bean-to-bar process to show customers through pictures how the cacao fruit bears a seed that in turn becomes the chocolate. I think this challenge will continue with new customers that trickle in, but it will be my pleasure to share my love of chocolate with them.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
The second I wake up — first check the time and then check email.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Customers asking for Swiss or Belgium Chocolate – Cacao doesn’t come from those countries, it’s only processed there, and there is way better chocolate being produced by other countries now.
How would you describe your business in 80 characters?
We use new ideas and techniques to open an infinite world of possibility and change the way you see chocolate.
Apple or Android?
Picasso or Matisse?
Coffee or tea?
Love or friendship?
Train or plane?
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.