I believe high quality chocolate can only be made from high quality cocoa beans.
Cacao Criollo - fresh beans
White bean - very high quality cacao
My sourcing is from a single estate farm in the Dominican Republic, Cacao del Eden, growing cacao in the most natural way, and respecting the biodiversity. The cocoa beans are sourced on a sailing route so they can be shipped by sailboat over the Atlantic Ocean (read more here : fair transport). I am in contact with other amazing farmers around the world and hope to find the way to import in a sustainable way their cacao in order to diversify the range of chocolate I produce…
Permaculture farm "Cacao del Eden" in the Dominican Republic
When the cocoa beans arrive in my workshop, they have been already fermentated few days in wooden boxes, and then dried by sun. This fermentation process is very important, it’s when starts the flavoring process, and depending of this, chocolate will be totally different. I want to say THANK YOU to the farmers, because I believe they are responsible of most of the final product, my part of the process is nothing comparing to what they achieve!
Those farmers have fermenting and drying area, which gives them the opportunity to add value to the beans.
Unlike most farmers, those have the chance to have been introduced to the international chocolate world, which is very valuable for them : when they understand the global process of grading, trading and making chocolate, they can understand what they have to do if they want to make higher quality, and increase the value of their product. This is definitly not a common practice in cocoa production, however it is the way to get greater returns on very hard work.
Education part, and future for the children is very important. In many places, children are made slaves, and then trade as free workers to the farmers. This is a very common practice, specially in West Africa, from where comes most of the world cocoa production (70%). The danish journalist, Miki Mistrati, made 2 reports about this (Chokoladens Mørke Side, 2010 and Lyssky Chokolade, 2012). If you don’t know those movies, please have a look at them.
Chocolate business is mostly shared by very few big companies in the world, they all signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, created to remove child slavery from the chocolate industry by July 2005… well, I don’t think they did more than put their stamp on it. This is probably the way of success : make unbeatable prices by stealing farmers’s work, children lives, and customer’s confidence.
When we speak about quality of chocolate, cocoa is the first thing that comes to the mind. What about sugar ? This is definitly a main ingredient of chocolate as well !
In the cane field
Sugar is probably one of the worst ennemy of public health nowadays… sorry, I meant WHITE and REFINED sugar ! Proper sugar, as any other natural food, should keep all its natural contents. The process to refine everything (and specially cereals and sugar) is a very bad habit of our society. As it seemed to be luxuary products in the past, it became a source of huge public health trouble !
I naturally decided to use pure whole and unrefined cane sugar (called rapadura, panela, or else depending of the area).
This sugar is the pure cane juice that had been only dried by evaporation process. Unlike white sugar, it contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
It comes from a cooperative of small farmers in Peru very focused on social projects and highly commited to environmental issues.
Comparison between whole cane sugar, real brown cane sugar and white sugar. Content of minerals and trace elements (mg per 100 g) (source : « L’assiette aux céréales », Claude Aubert, from analyses of nutrition institut laboratory of Amboise – France)
|mg per 100 g||whole cane sugar||real* brown cane sugar||white sugar|
*”real” refers here to natural brown sugar, not white sugar that have been colored and then called “brown sugar”.