Sourcing

COCOA

I believe high quality chocolate can only be made from high quality cocoa beans. So I try to use the highest quality as I can find.

white bean – very high quality cocoa
There are many kinds of cacao grown nowadays. But the best qualities are the less cultivated ones. They are the original kinds of cacao, found in central America, and used for centuries by old aztec and mayans civilisations. Those have amazing flavor properties. Cacao have been sprayed all around the equator. Most of the farmers grow now new kinds of cacao, more productive but at the expense of quality.

cacao Criollo – fresh beans
My sourcing is from a cooperative of small farmers in amazonian part in noth Peru, growing organic and Fair Trade certified cocoa. This cooperative, few years ago, started to cultivate a very old kind of Criollo, found in the amazon. It’s a variety with white beans, which has been ranking in the world best cocoas ! Soon I’ll have cocoa beans from Dominican Republic as well (read more here : Fairtransport).

cacao pods during harvesting

pods are opened to extract the beans
When 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 !

fermentating
The farmers of this cooperative are organized into small regional groups (30-40 members). Each of those groups has centralise fermenting and drying area, which gives them the opportunity to add value to the beans.

drying
The cooperative provide education to the farmers, 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 there.
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.

 

SUGAR

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 the same cooperative of small farmers in Peru than the cocoa beans.

sugar ready at the cooperative
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
Magnesium
80
4.5
0
Phosphorus
55
4
0
Iron
11.5
3
0.75
Fluorine
5.3
3.95
0
Copper
0.5
0.2
0
Manganese
0.35
0.2
0
Zinc
0.3
0.12
0
*”real” refers here to natural brown sugar, not white sugar that have been colored and then called “brown sugar”.