Flowstate Branding: Nature and Craft (But Not Tropical Baroque)

Kahlil Corazo
Flowstate Chocolate
4 min readJul 16, 2019


Packaging is part of the product. We experience food and drink with all our senses, not only our taste buds.

Our goal for Flowstate’s branding is to assist in experiencing chocolate.

Compared to Specialty Coffee

Here are top results when doing a Google image search for “specialty coffee packaging.”

Many have a minimalist vibe. I think this captures the experience of craft coffee. Flavors are clean. Baristas are clinical: they measure down to the gram and to the degree celsius. Roasting is a science:


In other words, specialty coffee is Apollonian.

Cacao, however, is Dionysian.

The Wildness of Cacao

Here’s my experience with cacao: it is a wild child of nature.

Cacao has an unruly strength that we do our best to tame. Fermentation tries to tame its bitterness and astringency, so that other flavors have a chance to appear.

Pairing has the same goal. Cacao never performs alone. In the Aztec and Mayan tradition, cacao is tamed with chilli. Europeans discovered two phenomenal pairings: sugar and milk. In Cebu, the strength of unfermented dark roasted cacao is counterbalanced by the neutralness of rice pastries.

I think the craft chocolate movement has captured this playful wildness in its packaging:

Google image search for “craft chocolate packaging”

The other place I’ve seen this wildness expressed in packaging is in Dr. Bronner’s shampoo. Looks normal. But if you read the copy, it sound like it was written by a deranged person.

Here’s an article on it: https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/whats-weird-label-dr-bronners-soap Here are his zoomed in photos of the copy.

The craft of human hands

Hardcore craft chocolate makers place fermentation, drying and roasting details in the packaging:


It sends a message: this is a product made possible through craftsmanship.

I’m hoping that this appreciation for craftsmanship produces a closeness between producer and consumer that will result in quality and variety:

Freedom from history and culture (ain’t going for Tropical Baroque)

In Cebu, we have a very strong tradition of sipping chocolate: sikwate made with tablea — the our traditional dark roasted, minimally fermented and roughly ground cacao liquor. There are a handful of tablea makers selling in groceries (eg, Guilang) and there are a couple of specialty shops built on this tradition: Tablea and Chocolate Chamber.

My chocolate roots come from this tradition. I feel this tradition is secure, as seen in the success of the businesses based on it. In fact, this tradition is so powerful, that if I mention tablea and sikwate when introducing sipping chocolate, people expect bitterness and smokiness from the drink.

We are missing out if we don’t experiment with other preparations (eg, mild roasted, fermented and finely ground) and pairings.

Others are taking care of carrying our tradition to the future, so I feel I should focus on introducing variety. In terms of branding, this means being different — different to the usual aesthetic of “tropical baroque.” My favorite execution of this aesthetic is Don Papa Rum. Many tablea brands have a similar vibe.

My hope for the brand is to be free of tradition and culture so that we are open to experiencing sipping chocolate beyond their confines. Sometimes you want to celebrate your roots, to share an experience with your ancestors, reaching back centuries. Sometimes you want to experience sipping chocolate as itself and only itself. The brand’s aim is the latter.