CocoLuscious. The name says it all. Coconut milk based, this fully organic dairy-free ice cream is simply luscious! It’s the ice cream of choice of some of our top Queensland chefs, the accompaniment to fine desserts, but we prefer it on its own – its raw natural goodness a rich delicious treat.
The story of CocoLuscious’ origins is one of serendipity, and one inspiring woman’s clear vision, unerring passion, unstoppable drive, and her insistence on the highest standards.
Swami Hennessy-Mitchell, the company’s founder and owner, had begun and run a successful raw chocolate business, Rawganic, for over a year, when she became pregnant. An unfortunate side-effect of her pregnancy was an allergy to chocolate. She couldn’t stand to smell it, handle it, even think about it, so her passion for her business dwindled.
“I was so frustrated. If I couldn’t be passionate about chocolate anymore, couldn’t even look at it, the business just wouldn’t work. What was I to do?” Swami thought, trawling through ideas to start a new venture, a healthy product that had not been made before.
“I sat down in despair to a tub of my favourite soy ice cream, turned it around to read the ingredients and was horrified. There were 19 ingredients listed on the back. Surely, there must be a healthier option?”
When her market research didn’t find a really healthy competitor, Swami realised the huge potential for a new business of her own. From this seed of an idea, a business germinated. Purchasing a book about making soy ice cream, she started looking around for another suitable non-diary base to substitute for the often GM tainted soy.
“I knew that the core ingredient had to be high fat to make the ice cream work. Why not coconut?” she thought.
It was the cusp of recognition for the benefits of coconut-based products in Australia. Coconut fat is vegan, gluten-free, and full of high medium chain triglycerides which speed up the metabolism, raise resistance and help the liver burn fat. Driven by her own belief in natural products and healthy vegan foods, Swami began experimenting making coconut ice cream without dairy, eggs or nuts, and with no artificial additives, colours, flavours or preservatives.
“I’d just made a batch of coconut ice cream,” Swami says. “My family all huddled together around the kitchen table. I’ll never forget seeing the look on their faces when they tasted it, knowing the recipe was an absolute winner!”
Isn’t it strange how taste memories are often infused with a sense of place. Swooning to the taste of the smoothest chocolate ever, your first smell of durian, you can probably remember where you were when these events occurred. Even the smells and sounds come back… It was Easter 2012 when I first tasted a CocoLuscious ice cream at Mandala Organic Arts, the Vanilla classic, accompanying a slice of raw chocolate cake. I could even tell you which table we were sitting at…just as Swami clearly remembers where she tried her first batch.
From that first taste at the family dining table, it was only a whirlwind four months until Swami’s first coconut ice cream hit the shops! Two years to the day after Rawganic began, the brand CocoLuscious was launched. Starting with a production of three flavours (Chocolate, Coconut and Vanilla), Swami set herself a five year goal of taking her ice cream Australia-wide, a target which remarkably she achieved in eighteen months! Even more impressive is her sales track record: a 100% success rate with the outlets she approached to stock her product.
Two years into the business, CocoLuscious employs eight staff, all vegans, another high standard insisted on by Swami.
“I want staff to believe in what we’re doing,” she says. “It makes all the difference.”
A glance at her website shows her extraordinary attachment to this work family, with past as well as present staff members acknowledged.
The CocoLuscious range boasts sixteen flavours, including raspberry, mango, blueberry, chai, vanilla chocolate chip, peppermint chocolate chip, coffee, Mexican chocolate (with chilli), and chocolate chip cookie dough. Made from organic coconut milk from Thailand, all of the ice cream is certified organic, vegan and kosher. Most flavours are also soy free. The original twelve flavours were sweetened with agave nectar, the last four with coconut sugar.
“Coconut sugar is the world’s most sustainable sweetener,” Swami tells me. “It’s low GI and is suitable for people who are fructose intolerant.”
I buy some of the Vanilla ice cream, its coconutty creaminess beautifully complementing the natural vanilla. But the Chocolate Christmas is something else again, its rich chocolate scattered with cherries and cranberries infused in Brandy, sprinkles of coconut flakes, and a generous amount of choc chips. Oh, I’m in heaven! I would honestly rather eat this ice cream than any other dessert apart from fruit! It’s fantastic how the coconut flavour complements both the vanilla and the chocolate so well in each variety. Chocolate chip cookie dough and raspberry are next on my list. Even as a ‘non-dessert’ person, I recognise a looming addiction – of the best sort!
And I’m not alone. From such a big vision and hard work has come huge success. Yet Swarmi is incredibly humble about her success, proud of her ice cream, but reluctant to be featured.
“I don’t know why it took me so long,” she tells me, her tone regretful.
I think of all the people who cannot eat regular ice cream, or choose not to because of its additives, preservatives, emulsifiers and saturated fats; the unsustainable food practices which rob forests and strip land; the multinational companies who often care little about the goodness of their food product…
A long wait for really good ice cream it may have been, but what a difference Swami has made to the lives of so many. She’s given us food that is good for us; food that will not only ‘sweeten’ our lives, but also our world.
NOTE: Factory direct sales are welcome, but please phone ahead.
7-9 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads, Queensland 4220 Ph: 07 5641 5200
NOTE: This review has also been published on Blank Gold Coast.