One of our newest makers, Luisa Abram comes all the way from Northeast Brazil. The maker focusses on dark chocolate only made with cacao from the Amazon rainforest. Named after the youngest daughter in the family, this family business has mastered the talent of making great chocolate.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Luisa’s father André to get a better insight into this exceptional maker…
What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
We are a family business. Everybody is involved, so that everyone’s skills contribute to the whole. There are four of us; Luisa Abram – who was born in Coventry, England. Luisa has just finished Culinary Studies in São Paulo, Brazil. She is 23 years old and is our barsmith. She takes care of the tempering process to the packing of the bars. Then there is Luisa’s father; André Banks. André is a native Brazilian from the Northeast of the country with a PhD in maths from Warwick. He takes care of all the machines and does the cleaning, roasting and grinding of the cacao nibs. Mirian Abram is Luisa’s mother. She is also from the Northeast of Brazil, she takes care of the logistics and finances. Then there is Andrea Abram – Luisa’s older sister who has a Law Degree and helps with legal issues.
Luisa always wanted to have her own business, and chocolate had always been an interest. Once she finished her degree, we started looking for options. We read many newspaper articles, magazines and webpages about competitive food products made in Brazil, made with raw material indigenous from here. We discovered that cacao is from the Amazon Rain Forest, which a large part of it sits in Brazil. Then we started looking for places where the locals collected cacao from the Forest in an organized way. After much effort and time, we found a co-operative that was doing a good job in collecting and fermenting wild cacao from the Forest. Moreover, the cacao is an important source of income to them, acting as a palpable incentive to preserve the Forest, since the cacao trees only grow and bear fruits under the shadow of bigger tress. We were really happy to meet such natural sustainable business model! We brought this cacao to Sao Paulo, made tests and were amazed with its flavour, creaminess and smell! We fell in love with that chocolate and the integration that came with it between the local communities and the preservation of the Rain Forest!!
What mission have you set for making and crafting chocolate?
Most river floodplain in the Amazon Forest at some point has cacao trees. We want to replicate as much as possible, respecting the local characteristics of every community of course, the business model we found. We want to pay a fair and just price for every wild cacao we encounter, so that the message it pays off to preserve the Forest as it is, gets through! Once we get these wild fruits, we will produce chocolate from not previously seen, let alone tasted, cacao beans! We are confident they will be incredible chocolate bars! But that is not all. We only use wild cacao and organic cane sugar in our bars. The gap between our chocolate bar and the consumer that buys it is as narrow as it can get, there are no added stuff! We only do dark chocolate and have no plans to make a bar with milk. We will only do 70% and 81% cacao bars. What will change is the region in the Amazon we source our beans.
When did you and your daughter start your company — and with whom? How many are there of you?
We started in August 2014. The company has 4 partners, which are the family Abram Banks.
Where do you want to go next? New bars? New beans? New markets?
New beans for sure, focused on wild ones. The ones nature created many years ago in the Amazon Rain Forest. We aim for the world to eat our bars and enjoy them.
How did you source your beans?
From small communities in the Brazilian Amazon rivers
How do you source your machinery – more on your winnowing machines too?
We either made them (winnower and melangeur, a work in progress) or buy from known suppliers to industry participants.
What is your favourite food? Wine? Other chocolate makers?
Luisa: Tuna sashimi. Chocolate: Naïve 67%, and of course ours most definitely!
Andre: Japanese food, Brazilian cusine, Indian cusine. Chocolate: Zotter Peru, Naïve 67%, Domori Canoabo, and ours most definitely!
Mirian: Brazilian cusine, Indian cusine
Andrea: Japanese cusine