Meet the Maker – Carlos Ayala of Vicolo Sei ChocolatesPosted on 9th June 2023
Carlos Ayala of Bristol-based Vicolo Sei Chocolate creates bespoke artisan bonbons and truffles, lovingly handmade with the finest sustainable ingredients.
He also offers welcoming and immersive Sensory Chocolate Tasting Experiences from his home, introducing you to the culture and heritage of chocolate through his handcrafted chocolates and Amazonian roots. Find out more below!
Tell us about your business?
I’m Carlos Ayala, a third-generation Italian Ecuadorian chocolate maker, living in Bristol since 2018. My mother’s family comes from the Amazon.
Since I was a child, I remember my grandmother bringing raw cacao beans. From an early age, I became familiar with cacao, its intense taste, and fantastic aroma.
With the eagerness to share the kitchen with my mum, and with loving support from my twin sister, I took my first steps into chocolate-making. I made truffles which I sold to my neighbours when I was just 12.
After working over 10 years on sustainable development, I decided to learn more about the intricate process of chocolate production. I love to innovate and experiment, always striving to create new and exciting chocolate flavours that capture the essence of Ecuadorian cacao.
What do you sell?
I create freshly handmade artisan bonbons and truffles, made with premium Ecuadorian dark chocolate. I also offer Sensory Chocolate Tasting Experiences for those eager to recognize flavour profiles and notes, and learn the chocolate making process – from cropping, harvest, post-harvest, and chocolate finishing.
What is your bestselling product?
Truffles and bonbons hold a special place in the hearts of chocolate enthusiasts who appreciate the artistry and freshness of handcrafted chocolates. In my collection of over 12 recipes, I exclusively use vegan ingredients to create delectable treats like raspberry and pistachio, as well as caramelized ginger and cocoa nibs truffles. These unique flavour combinations cater to the diverse palates of chocolate connoisseurs.
The Sensory Chocolate Tasting Experience has gained immense popularity since its inception at Vicolo Sei. In our first year of offering these sessions in Bristol, we have successfully conducted over 50 sessions. This immersive tasting experience allows participants to indulge in the flavours, aromas, and textures of fine chocolates, elevating their appreciation for the intricacies of this delectable art form.
How do you strive to be eco-friendly in your business?
Bristol, known for its multicultural and diverse community, boasts a rich history in the cacao trade and chocolate production, dating back to the 17th century. The city witnessed the establishment of the first-ever chocolate factory, which utilized hydraulic power for its operations. However, it is regrettable that the success achieved in commercializing cacao was not reciprocated fairly with local cacao producers, particularly those in Africa and the Caribbean.
Vicolo Sei is driven by the ambition to revive Bristol’s chocolate heritage by bestowing new significance upon locally produced and equitably traded cacao. Through our delectable chocolates and immersive sensory experiences, we strive to support the consolidation of a shorter cacao supply chain – achieved through sustainable practices, fair sourcing, and transparency across the entire supply network. We ensure the ethical sourcing of cacao by directly collaborating with bean-to-bar chocolate makers who maintain close relationships with local producers in various regions of Ecuador.
Where are you based?
I am currently based in Shirehampton, BS11, Bristol
Where can we find you and your products?
You can find our catalogue on our website:
To book for an experience:
Or on Instagram @vicolo_sei