• Celebrating a rich heritage,
    ready to flavor the future

    We're proud of our great past, inspiring us to create new and innovative premium cocoa products in the years to come

The Dutch Heritage

Celebrating the past to flavor the future

Today we celebrate 175 years of the finest Bensdorp cocoa powders. Our rich and delightful history traces all the way back to 19th century Holland, an industrial hotbed for revolutionary cocoa processing techniques that determined the unique taste and texture of the cocoa products you enjoy today. To this moment we embrace our roots dearly, inspiring us to uphold the premium Bensdorp quality and unequalled usability and stimulating us to create innovative new products to offer you the world’s finest cocoa.

The introduction of cocoa in the Netherlands

There has been a link between the Low Countries (roughly consisting of Belgium, The Netherlands, Northern France and Western Germany) and cocoa beans for centuries. The coastal region of Northwestern Europe was annexed by the Spanish Empire in the fourteenth century, which explains the early introduction of cocoa in the area. But the Spanish held a strict monopoly over the import of the precious beans.

 

Dutch disobedience to the Spanish rule

It was not until the establishment of the Dutch West India Company in 1621 that the Netherlands and cocoa became permanently intertwined. The chartered company of Dutch merchants completely dismissed the Spanish embargo and imported the cocoa beans on large scale. It was then that the Port of Amsterdam earned its title as the world’s most important transit harbor for cocoa. A title it holds to this very day.

French dominion with a valuable outcome

From 1795 to 1813, the Netherlands were under French authority. By then, the Dutch West India Company had already turned trading cocoa into a lucrative business. But when Napoleon arrived, he presented the Dutch with a valuable treasure: the French Emperor taught them how to turn cocoa beans into delicious cocoa and chocolate delicacies.

 

Zeeland drinking chocolate

After the departure of Napoleon’s troops, the Dutch applied themselves to processing the cocoa beans they imported from their colonies Suriname, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The Zeelanders, inhabitants of southwestern Holland, were particularly innovative and created a product called ‘Zeeland drinking chocolate’. It was made of cocoa mass compressed into small tablets and was essentially the predecessor of cocoa powder.

 

Revolutionary Dutch inventions

19th century Holland was a chocolate manufacturing hotbed, which gave rise to several revolutionary inventions that drastically changed the taste and texture of chocolate. In 1828 the Dutchman Coenraad van Houten invented the cocoa press, which made it possible to produce cocoa powder that was incredibly easy to dissolve in liquids. Van Houten later also invented the Dutching process, which improved the solubility of cocoa powder even more and allowed greater variation in taste and color.

 

19th century Amsterdam: the scene for the Bensdorp™ story

The Bensdorp story began in 1840, when Gerardus Bensdorp founded his small cocoa factory. But he wasn’t just trying his luck in an era where the Netherlands were rapidly revealing themselves as the world’s leading cocoa producer. Prior to founding his factory, Gerardus had spent seven years wandering Europe working as a chocolate and sugar manufacturer. This man knew cocoa. And the time had come to share his own recipes with the world…

 

Common man luxury

For a long time, chocolate was a privilege of the well-to-do. But that changed at the beginning of the 20th century when Bensdorp spearheaded the popularization of cocoa and chocolate products. Our innovative marketing techniques appealed to the common man and technical revolutions quickly led to affordable chocolate prices, causing chocolate to become part of the everyday diet in the post-World War II era.

 

A family business with an international scope

Gerardus Bensdorp’s recipes, know-how and passion for cocoa were passed on from generation to generation. With a sequence of Gerardus’ descendants at the helm the small traditional chocolate factory grew into a thriving business, offering delicious cocoa products to the entire world. Bensdorp even opened a sales office in the United Stated immediately after World War II. The Bensdorp brand had however already made its introduction throughout the US in the 1880’s, with president Cleveland as an avid consumer.

Joining forces

In 1972 Bensdorp decided to concentrate its activities solely on its core business: the production of cocoa butter and cocoa powder. And thanks to an assimilation with Barry Callebaut, the largest cocoa manufacturing group in the world, at the end of the 20th century, the funds for an extensive and highly technological R&D department became available. The resulting state-of-the-art production line meticulously facilitated our hyperspecialization. It complements us in our quest for perfection.

 
 

Our Dutch cocoa heritage now explores the world

Today, with more than 170 years of experience and a presence in 25 countries all over the world, Bensdorp has learned to create the finest high-quality cocoa powders imaginable. Our products are designed to meet the most specific food application requirements and bring the wonderful experience of chocolate flavor and color where chocolate cannot go. Our powder products truly are the world’s finest cocoa.