Bare bones want to share their fascination for cacao with their customers and demonstrate how incredible it can taste – without soya lecithin, vegetable fats, additives or E-numbers. Chocolate should be pure, delicious and ethical. Honouring the farmers, the cacao and the maker.
Variety: A mix of trinitario, criollo and forestero
Source: UCLS Cooperative
Certification: Organic certified
Fermentation: Fermentation boxes located in local collection centres
Their Madagascan cacao grows in the Sambirano region in the north-west of Madagascar. In this area, the cacao grows amidst tall fruit trees of mangoes and bananas to provide enough shade for the cacao. The cacao is grown amongst fragrant plants such as ylang-ylang, vetiver and patchouli which make the air thick with humidity – an ideal growing condition for cacao trees.
Because of the limited infrastructure, cacao farmers were initially dispersed and non-organised. This meant the farmers generally sold their beans to middlemen, resulting in high price fluctuations and uncertain availability of transport means. By forming cooperatives the farmers started to strengthen their position in the local market. The UCLS cooperative was formed in 2009, and covers 24 small cooperatives and 400 farmers.
To add value to the cacao, UCLS began to export directly to foreign buyers around the globe. The cooperative launched a bean quality program – educating farmers on organic agriculture practices, the best planting materials and how to improve post-harvest techniques for a healthy and fruitful crop. Fermentation tanks were installed in villages to ensure optimal and uniform conditions. Technicians employed by the union closely monitor all farms of members, the fermentation and drying processes. All of this has led to a vast increase of the quality and value of the cacao.
UCLS also empowers cacao farmers to protect the Sambirano’s unique rainforest ecosystem, that is so important to both the characteristics of the cocoa beans and for local eco-tourism. With support from Rainforest Alliance, a project was launched to plant new trees to battle soil erosion. Farmers are encouraged to grow the cocoa under a canopy of indigenous shade trees, which creates buffer zones around primary forests. This reduces the environmental pressure of monoculture on the habitat of the famous lemur monkeys in remaining forest fragments and supports thousands of different species of birds, insects and lizards.
This bean is very fruity with a distinct cherry flavour. In our Madagascar 70% Dark, it has taste notes of maple syrup, raspberries and cherries.
Variety: Mayan Red Trinitario
Source: XOCO Cooperative
Conditions: 600m above sea level
Fermentation: Fermented and dried at post-harvest centre
Mayan Red is a unique Honduran Trinitario, discovered and cultivated by XOCO. This variety was almost extinct when found in 2006 in three small neighbouring farms in the jungle of Northern Honduras. Mayan Red is named after their Mayan heritage and distinct red pod. It is genetically unique to Honduras and belongs in the group of exotic varieties.
The trees are spaced 3 x 3m apart to ensure that they can live off the nutrients of the land – meaning a vast majority of farmers do not need to use fertilizers or pesticides.
During the first year and a half, the trees have to be nursed intensely by the farmers in order to keep fungus and insects at bay. In the dry season, the farm lays large leaves around the foot of the trees to ensure humidity.
Mayan Red is collected, fermented and dried by XOCO in their post-harvest centre. The beans are fermented for 5 days in wooden boxes, with two turns applied. The process is finished when the pH values of the pulp and the bean converge. The beans are then dried in the sun for 7-8 days.
The flavour is full bodied and fruity. In our Honduras 60% Milk, it has taste notes of raisin, double cream and fudge.
Region: Duarte Province
Variety: Trinitario and Criollo
Source: OKO Caribe
Certification: Organic Certified
Conditions: 200–350m above sea level
Fermentation: 5-6 days in four tiers of wooden boxes
Their Dominican Republic cacao is grown in the Duarte Province and processed by ÖKO Caribe. Öko Caribe maintains close relationships with its farmers through technical training in agroforestry practices. Owners Adriano and Gualberto have personal relationships with all the farmers – offering microfinance loans for cacao-related expenses, as well as personal loans for family emergencies and other community needs.
The strong relationship between Öko Caribe and the farmers they work with is not only evidenced in daily practices, management and farmers, but also in their high quality and award-winning cacao. In addition to paying consistent, stable premiums, ÖKO helps their farmers find the key to increased yields. They encourage environmental responsibility and forward plan for the longevity of their farms through the soil, crop, and land management training.
Öko Caribe opens the cacao pods at the location and ensures that all of the wet beans arrive at the fermentation centre in less than 6 hours. They are fermented in a 4-box tier system for 5-6 days. Due to the humidity and frequent downpours, Öko Caribe uses solar tunnel drying houses to dry their beans.
The beans are famously balanced with classic nutty flavours. Our Dominican Republic 68% Salt has taste notes of salted caramel and roasted hazelnuts.
Region: Rio Dulce ('The Sweet River')
Source: XOCO Cooperative
Conditions: 600m above sea level
Fermentation: Fermented in wooden boxes
Their Guatemalan cacao is grown in the northern region of Guatemala between Honduras and Belize. Grown along the Rio Dulce “The Sweet River”, the cacao thrives in this rainy region without the need for irrigation systems.
Since 2007, XOCO has worked with farmers who have given 20% – 30% of their land to young cacao trees. They provide technical assistance to the farmers for the lifetime of the trees and guarantee a fair price for their beans once they have been harvested.
The beans are known for their sweet and floral characteristics, which is highlighted beautifully in our Guatemala 65% Dark.