To take you through the contemplative chocolate tasting experience, I work only with craft chocolate which respects....
That means that every single person along the supply chain who worked hard towards bringing you the delicious chocolate in your hands has been paid fairly. Chocolate brands directly trading with cacao farmers, or at least sourcing from responsible cacao traders are the prerequisite. This is why we are bent on Bean to Bar chocolate: for its transparency and traceability.
It does not sit right with us that the enjoyment of a chocolate bar should come at the cost of somebody else's livelihood. As an example, the World Economic Forum states the the average cacao farmer in Ghana is paid 1USD per day, and has about 6 -10 dependants to support. Bear in mind that the World Bank has established the threshold for extreme poverty at 1.9USD /day.
The Balance of Nature
Sustainability is important to us, and we strive to work with chocolate brands/makers which feel and act upon the same. (We love a brand that has its own sustainability inititative, from commitments to planting trees to using only biodegradable packaging material).
The future of cacao is important for all of us, from the farmers who rely on cacao for income all the way to chocolate lovers who surely do not want to see this wonderful food dissapearing with the potential wipeout of cacao someday.
This is why we are commited to helping chocolate consumers understand the entire process, from the farmer behind the cacao bean right up to the final chocolate bar. Knowing where our food comes from and how, often leads to empowering game-changing decisions in our consumption.
It goes without saying that we do not support chocolate made from cacao linked to deforestation, and thankfully nor can we think of any Bean to Bar chocolate maker who would do so.
Respecting the delicate, complex nuances that only fine cacao possesses is the thin line separating fine chocolate from fabulous. No overroasts here, no unnecessary additives, no big names for the sake of it. Only delicious, well delivered flavour.
Just as certifications do not guarantee happier farmers, they certainly do not promise a chocolate with a quality sensorial experience. A fine tasting bean to bar chocolate, made with directly traded cacao assuring a healthy payment to the farmer will always trump a mediocre chocolate with 3 different certification stickers on it. Simply our preference.
*Photo shows the inside of a cacao bean whilst drying - note the violet colour, indicating its level of fermentation. Fermentation is a key contributor to fine flavoured cacao.
So how do we check all of these criteria? By asking the right questions.
When working with a craft chocolate maker/brand, some examples of the questions which we ask include:
- Where the beans were sourced from
- How much was paid for a specific volume of cacao, and to whom
- If using a cacao trader, the name of said trader. (Fine cacao traders offer some of the most transparent and generous disclosures possible, adhering to strict values aligned to the 'Bean to Bar' movement.)
- Where ingredients, including sugar, were sourced from
- Details of the chocolate making facility - who works there, how many, etc.
- Details of their chocolate making process, from who does what, which machines, volume output per batch, etc.
Thanks to a small but powerful and close knit international craft chocolate network which include chocolate makers, fine cacao traders, cacao experts/agronomists and chocolate sommeliers, fact checking is made easier and helps us verify the responses (particularly where we are unable or have yet to site-visit ourselves). Until the time comes where the Bean to Bar chocolate industry is regulated and subject to official third party audits, we find this method effective- for now.