The Jamaican proverb “one one coco full basket” means that success comes slowly, not overnight. The saying is the inspiration behind the name of entrepreneur Kenesha Lewis’ chocolate company, One More Cocoa, and coincidentally, tells the story of how her business came to be what it is today.
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Kenesha founded One More Cocoa in 2020, but it’s not her first venture of this kind – she originally made custom candy creations through her company Iced Iced Baby, and before that, she was a baker making cupcakes. Currently, One More Cocoa offers over a dozen flavours in white, milk, and dark chocolate bar varieties; chocolate lovers shopping online can also build their own bon-bon boxes made up of irresistible flavours like crème brulee, salted caramel, and strawberry cheesecake. The colourful bon-bons resemble starry nights and Pollock paintings and are almost too pretty to eat.
So why pivot to chocolate after years of baking and candy-making? While working full-time from home while living with her parents in 2020, Kenesha shared cups of cocoa tea – a kind of spiced hot chocolate popular in the Caribbean – with her family. It brought back fond memories of enjoying cocoa tea with her grandfather. “I’ve always been interested in making beautiful things,” says Kenesha, whose love for chocolate and connection to her Jamaican background drove her to explore chocolate-making.
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Theming it around the 2020 holiday season, Kenesha first created an eggnog chocolate bar as part of the offerings of Iced Iced Baby. “It didn’t do well, I didn’t promote it well enough,” said Lewis. But her friends loved it, so she kept coming up with concepts for chocolate bars and opened One More Cocoa. The next few flavours were very nostalgic, like Cereal Bowl, a white chocolate bar with cereal bits that evokes those last sweet spoonfuls of cereal enjoyed while watching Saturday morning cartoons, and Caramel Popcorn, based on one of Lewis’ favourite snacks, Chicago mix. The Eggnog bar remains part of One More Cocoa’s offerings to this day after eventually becoming a staple flavour.
Kenesha, who was born in Jamaica but grew up in Canada, is now exploring how to incorporate familiar flavours from Jamaican cuisine into her chocolates. “I’m recreating things I loved as a kid that I can’t get here in Canada,” says Kenesha while describing One More Cocoa’s upcoming coconut truffle line. The coconut truffles will come in three flavours: plain coconut, coconut ginger, and coconut brown sugar, the last of which draws upon a Jamaican snack of fresh coconut jelly and brown sugar.
A full bean-to-bar exploration of Jamaican chocolate and flavours is also in the works at One More Cocoa. Kenesha has imported Jamaican cocoa beans and nibs and will be launching three chocolate bars – a mango white chocolate bar, a dark chocolate spiced rum bar, and a milk chocolate coconut ginger bar based on coconut drops, another popular Jamaican snack. “I’m focusing on really figuring out who we are as a business and diving deep into my Jamaican roots,” says Kenesha. “I’ve grown up on Jamaican cocoa, I love the taste of it, so why not use Jamaican cocoa?”
In August, coinciding with Jamaica’s Independence Day, Lewis will also release the “Jamaica Box” – a box of chocolates with four flavours that Kenesha says will represent Jamaica as a whole.
From side hustle to thriving business
One More Cocoa started as what Kenesha described as a “side hustle” and has grown into a thriving business with a brick-and-mortar storefront in Whitby – but it hasn’t come without hardships. Lewis continues to work full-time in the corporate sector while managing One More Cocoa and describes balancing the two as a juggling act and a learning experience. “As the business grows, it’s not possible as a one-person show anymore.”
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Kenesha says she’s shy when doing interviews – but she comes alive when describing her business and journey. “Everybody just looks out for me. They see my drive and passion and know that this is something I want to do.” She’s keen to keep growing and plans to expand into the United States later this year.
“Jamaicans have a saying – ‘your hand ‘grees with it,’” she explains. It means you were meant to do it, in a way. “People tell me ‘your hand ‘grees with chocolate.’”
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