A couple of weeks ago I visited magCulture, a shop dedicated to supporting independent print magazine publishers and getting them into the hands of readers such as me. magCulture is based in north London and stocks hundreds of magazines, the kind with high production values, very little advertising – if any – fresh article concepts, photography that rewards time spent looking and intriguing graphic design.
‘F Chocolate’ is one of a tote bag full I plucked from the shelves, flicked through the pages and thought this volume is worth spending a little money and time with. Published by a company steeped in design, it’s no surprise that the layout is clean, exciting, distinctive and encourages both reading and page turning.
F is a food documentary magazine created in South Korea by Magazine B, a company telling multi-layered stories about brands in single issues such as Monocle (a copy of which I also bought), Muji and Vans; and Baremin, a fast growing south Korean-based food delivery app.
Just one ingredient
Each edition of F is dedicated to one ingredient. My issue is numbered #6 immerses itself on chocolate while others have focussed on berries, kimchi, chicken, cheese and tomatoes.
In a recent interview with the Netherlands-based Dutch Institute of Food Design, an F spokesperson said: “We look at whether an ingredient is used in different ways in different cultures and regions so we can emphasize that in the magazine. We try to avoid materials that are limited to one area and choose those that have strong characteristics in each area. We also look is whether it will still be used in the future.”
F Chocolate offers various interviews – with a cocoa bean grower in Ecuador, New York-based roasters, and makers including Susanna Yoon and Pierre Hermé. A section headed Academic Manual includes bite-sized looks at the symbolism of chocolate, its history, a selection of stats, and taking a tour of chocolate places found across London.
Brands such as MAST, Tcho and a long time leading innovator, Valrhona from Lyon France also get a mention, while tradition and history is covered by Cannoli from Italy, Sacher Torte (Austria) and Brigadeiro chocolate balls from Brazil.
The design is open, sparse and although – because it’s chocolate – there are lots of shades of brown, it never feels dated or dull, but vibrant. The paper is matt, and quite heavy, and all fitting into A5-sized package. There has been some serious thinking about design and content for this series.
There are no long read articles in this edition, but that’s not the point of F. It’s here it tempt, tease, analyse and draw you in. Perhaps the words will inspire you into finding out more about single bean estate chocolates, or asking more questions of your choice of chocolate, opting for a dark chocolate over milk and white for a closer taste to real chocolate.