Class of 2022

Sara and Max Marquart

Science Innovators

33, 35 / Zurich, Switzerland and Munich, Germany

The German pair harnessing fermentation tech to create cocoa-free chocolate

Nicknamed ‘the Chocolate Siblings’, Drs Sara and Max Marquart have created a confectionary unlike any other. Made through the fermentation and roasting of cereals such as oats rather than cocoa, their chocolate, under the brand name QOA, is 10 times more sustainable than its competing products on the supermarket shelves. 

They are the dream team: both Sara and Max are self-professed foodies, propelled by professional backgrounds in science and experience with start-ups and entrepreneurship. Their journey began when they read the book Never Out of Season by Rob Dunn, which describes the damaging biproducts of our food system – including exploitation and deforestation – and steps we can take to mitigate these long-term effects on a global scale. Inspired to join the transformation effort, the Marquarts introduced QOA as a future-proof alternative to mass-market cocoa products. 

Using the scientific tools at their disposal such as gas and liquid chromatography, Sara and Max began by researching the exact flavour and aroma of chocolate before embarking on the fermentation process. Their substitutes for cocoa, including spelt husks and press cakes from the oil industry, can all be sourced locally and in regions around the world.

For the Chocolate Siblings, QOA is only the beginning. After bringing their future-proof product to the American market in late 2022, they plan to turn QOA into a holistic ingredient platform and be one of the forerunners of the sustainable food revolution.

“We need to transform our food system radically - most of the ingredients we are consuming now are at risk or harm the planet. Gastronomy is and will and needs to be at the forefront of this transition.” – Sara and Max Marquart

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