Cuckoo for Kakao: St. Louis-based chocolatier uses local, all-natural ingredients


The list of local vendors that Kakao Chocolate owner Brian Pelletier rattled off continued on for two minutes: pecans, lavender, coffee and tea, as well as graphic designers, soap-makers and painters.

Kakao Chocolate is a company that makes different types of chocolate and confections. Kakao’s doors first opened in 2009 off of Jefferson Ave. in South City. Today, there are Kakao stores in Maplewood and Clayton as well. Maplewood is their largest location, which produces most of their products. Guests in the store can watch as the chocolate is being made and dipped. Some of their most popular chocolates are dark chocolate and lavender truffles.

Brian Pelletier prepares a batch of chocolate. / photo by Randi Hammor
Brian Pelletier prepares a batch of chocolate. / photo by Randi Hammor

Pelletier says he doesn’t do it for advertisement or recognition. He said he uses all of the local companies because they are great.

“It’s just a part of what we are doing,” Pelletier said. “If they weren’t great, we wouldn’t use them.”

On the door of the Maplewood store are signs showing his support for local businesses. Customer Stephanie Szoko comes from St. Charles to the Maplewood location because of the comfort she has in knowing where the ingredients come from.

Pelletier wants people to know what is inside the product they are eating when they buy chocolate from him. The ingredients for his products aren’t just local, they’re also all natural. Szoko said the quality shows through the taste of the chocolate.

Pelletier opened the third Kakao location in Clayton during August of 2014. While the chocolate is both made and sold at the Maplewood and South City locations, the Clayton location sells their chocolates and makes coffee.

He said some of the best restaurants in St. Louis are located in Clayton and he wanted to be among them. By opening his Clayton location, he hopes that people will dine at a restaurant and then finish the experience at Kakao for coffee and dessert.

Kakao partnered with String Bean Coffee, a fair trade coffee company located in Fenton, to make a unique coffee blend to serve at the new location. Kakao also uses String Bean Coffee to make different types of chocolate bark and truffles.

Pelletier is usually in one of the three stores on any given day. He’s happy to talk to people about his company and other companies that he partners with. In the future, Pelletier doesn’t see any more expansion for Kakao. He never had any interest in expanding beyond St. Louis and is happy with the stores he has. He said he hasn’t completely ruled out the option, but for now three locations is enough.

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