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Father’s Day Competition

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To help you celebrate Father’s day this year, we are excited to announce a special Father’s Day giveaway for you. Together with a few of our favourite small businesses, we have created the ultimate Father’s Day gift bundle for you to win.*

Included in this prize are host of wonderful goodies to delight your dad.

 

Quiet Rebbellion SocksQuiet Rebellion Socks

First for the fun yet fashion conscious father, we’ve three pairs brushed cotton socks from Quiet Rebellion. Quiet Rebellion puts colour back into the soles of office workers around the world! Office attire needs to look professional but this often feels dull. Quiet Rebellion injects fun into your weekdays through socks hidden patterns so you can still look serious yet feel mischievous!

Pushkin Press BooksPushkin Press Books

If your dad’s a bit of a bookworm, he will love Pushkin Press’ beautifully bound books. Pushkin Press publishes the world’s best stories, to be read and read again, and they’ve got the ultimate reads for any dad this Father’s Day. From Sand, a darkly sophisticated literary thriller from a star of the German literary scene, Clinch, a visceral, compulsive read about a boxer on the run that packs a punch and will leave you reeling, to 1917, a collection of passionate voices from the Russian Revolution and finally, Stefan Zweig’s exquisite Montaigne, an account of the French philosopher’s life which asks how we ought to think, and how to live.

Honest Brew BeerHonest Brew Beer

And since Father’s Day is a celebration, it seemed only right to add in a tipple or twelve. In this prize we’ve also included Honest Brew’s 12 Beer Mixed Case for Father’s Day. This super gift box includes a selection of the world’s finest, freshest and most delicious craft beers, an official HonestBrew glass, an extremely handy bottle opener, and an exclusive Father’s Day card designed by London-based illustrator HATCH. No nonsense, no naff novelty, just great beer and gifts.

 

Cocoa Runners HamperCocoa Runners Hamper

Of course, no Cocoa Runners giveaway would be complete without chocolate! The lucky competition winner will also receive a Cocoa Runners Chocolate Lover’s Hamper. The wooden hamper is bursting with the finest artisan milk and dark chocolate bars. What more could your dad ask for?

 

 

How To Enter

In order to enter our giveaway, simply click on the button and fill out the form. We will contact the winner on Tuesday 13 June so make sure you check your emails. Good luck!

 

ENTER NOW

 

*Terms & Conditions apply. One entry per person. You must be 18 or over to enter. Prizes can be sent to UK addresses only. Entry closes at midnight Monday 12 June and a winner will be notified by email before 10am on Tuesday. The winner will have 24hours to contact us or we will redraw a new winner on Thursday. By entering, you are agreeing to receive marketing materials from all companies, but are welcome to opt out of mailing list at any time.

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Five of the Best Dark Chocolate Bars

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Five of The Best Dark Chocolate Bars

By Cara Curtis

There’s something about dark chocolate that makes everyone indulge slowly a piece at a time. It’s more of an experience than a midday snack, whether the dark chocolate has fruity and citrusy notes or if it’s more smokey and earthy treat. It all depends on the bean quality, the skilled maker and the process the bar goes through from starting as a bean to then being shipped around the world.

Here at Cocoa Runners, it’s our job to discover the world’s best chocolate bars. We have tried thousands upon thousands of chocolate bars; some we’ve disliked, some we’ve liked and some we cannot live without. We’ve travelled from one side of the world to the other to bring you the best chocolate of the world from exotic places such as Madagascar, Peru, Dominican Republic and many more countries.

We have carefully rounded up our favourite 5 dark chocolate bars so take a look and let us know what you think – have you tried them before?

Here’s our picks from our Chocolate Library of some of the best dark chocolate bars:

BLANXART

72% DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

This Dominican Republic bar is quite remarkable and completely incomparable. It’s as if the bar melts on your tongue and you’re suddenly met with wave after wave of chocolatey pleasure. This bar, made by the Spanish chocolate maker, Blanxart have nailed the art of dark chocolate in this bar alone. It gives notes of cream and intense chocolate. It’s simply a must-try.

MENAKAO

SEA SALT AND NIBS

Whilst we are normally purists when it comes to single estate dark chocolate, we make an exception for this Menakao dark chocolate bar. This is an example of chocolate with inclusions done exactly right. This bar is jam-packed with fruity and berry notes that work perfectly alongside the intense chocolate flavour. The added salt serves for double purpose, whilst adding texture with the crunchy nibs, the sale also brings out the roasted fruity and raisin notes whilst reducing the bitterness. It’s simply perfect.

PUMP STREET BAKERY

SOURDOUGH AND SEA SALT

This bar is an intriguing dark chocolate treat, with the sourdough adding an interesting inclusion and a gently crunch with a pleasant yeasty taste. It surprisingly works like a dark chocolate dream. It easily surpassed our expectations and earned itself a rightful place in our top five dark chocolate bars because of it’s unique yeasty and salty flavour which leaves you wanting more and more and … more.

OMNOM

MADAGASCAR

This deliciously fruity, dark chocolate bar is the perfect example of what a Madagascan bean can do. This bar has a perfect balance between fruity and jammy notes which give for a sweet treat which is common for Madagascan bean bars. But, this bar didn’t make the 5 best dark chocolate bars for just been the best of its kind, it’s deserved its place by the slight sharpness of the cherry hints that break through the bar with every bite. For this, it has been awarded a Silver at the International Chocolate Awards 2015. Alongside this success, it also took home Bronze at the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2015.

BONNAT

SELVA MAYA

This bar uses rare cacao from south-eastern Mexico which gives it a distinguished and unique taste. With every bite, there are floral and creamy notes that gives for a delicious and smooth mouthfeel. But we’re not the only ones that love this bar, the Chocolat Bonnat Selva Maya bar won World Gold at the International Chocolate Awards 2016 World Final, in London.

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting With Lucocoa

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On Tuesday 16th May we hosted our monthly Chocolate Tasting Evening at Prufrock Coffee. This time we did something a little different. Lizzie from Cocoa Runners invited Ama of Lucocoa to share the stage with her and talk about her experiences of chocolate making.

Among the guests was Terese Weiss. Terese is as keen about bean-to-bar chocolate as we are and is currently on the Teacher Training Programme at the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Training (IICCT). If you’ve taken one of the IICCT’s courses in the UK you might just have had the good fortune to have been taught by Terese.

After attending the event, Terese was kind enough to write an account the evening, which we are delighted to share with you below.

A ‘Hakuna Lucocoa matata’ kind of chocolate event

An evening of learning, tasting and a meeting a chocolate maker – 16 May 2017

When was the last time you met the maker and personality behind a product you eat pretty much daily?  Living in a big town like London, that in itself is rather uncommon, even in a time when specialty and craft are increasingly celebrated.  That is what made the most recent Cocoa Runners’ ‘meet the maker’ event so enticing and intimate: to hear and taste the story with the maker – in this case Lucocoa, aka team Ama and Andy.

To make an unusual start, let me tell you that as a professional interpreter, this would be my favourite kind of assignment.  What’s there not to like?  A relaxing yet informative evening with guided tastings of 14 quality chocolates and peppered with entertaining titbits.  (Who by the way knew that the UK chocolate market is bigger that the book and music industry combined!). But why is that relevant to interpreting – and how is that the reason the Cocoa Runners’ gig is one to keep looking out for.  Well, hear me out.

Interpreters are often regarded as semi androids, a hidden button somewhere is switched on, A language goes in, B language comes out.  Not quite so.  Language is just the top of the iceberg.  We look below and listen for meaning, intention and delivery – how well they align… or not.  I have interpreted many good and not so good presentations, so I can tell you: Cocoa Runners’ event was aligned, like a string of cocoa beans.  They speak fluent chocolate, no interpretation needed.

The evening was mainly hosted by Cocoa Runners’ staff Lizzie who did a deft job in giving sizable insight into the world of chocolate.  Although we covered a lot, (beyond the tasting itself – recognising quality, ingredients, the surge of the craft bar, how it is made and personal stories about every sample and maker, the size, shape and make up of the industry as a whole – and much more), I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  And that on a hot Tuesday evening after a long day’s work.  It takes a skilled and knowledgeable presenter to do that – and probably some of the most visual and entertaining slides I have long seen, which kept the evening light and engaging.  Who would have thought that a picture of chicken nuggets or a baby donkey could perfectly exemplify just about anything chocolate.  If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself!

Lizzie was seconded by Ama in a gentle duet, partly to hear Lucocoa’s story, partly to get a maker’s perspective.  If you don’t know Lucocoa, they are London’s first bean-to-bar maker, having set up in 2014.  She and Andy still juggle day jobs and have turned their spare room into a small chocolate factory, (doesn’t that sound like pure bliss), although plans to upscale elsewhere are on the horizon.  Ama’s background as a nutritionalist and the couple’s discovery of the Amazonian ‘super food’ lucuma fruit, (looks like a cross between a tennis ball and a granny smith) gave birth to Lucocoa’s name and signature ingredients: coconut sugar and lucuma powder.

There was something quite disarming in Ama’s ‘down to earth-ness’ and admittance of the teething problems she and Andy went through as new kids on the chocolate block.  Like how they leaned the hard way to navigate import and export, having travelled and found the beans they wanted to buy from a local woman in Belize and thinking it would just be a small matter of shipping them back to the UK.

We tried 4 of Lucocoa’s bars from Belize, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala showing us a fan of different flavours – and a delicious ‘natural blonde’ white bar.  However, for Ama it seemed more important to tell the story behind the bars, about the 3 different women, (Minni, Idelsa and Yasmira), who grow the beans, how they met and their relationship.  Aptly, the range is called ‘celebrating our women farmers’.  The direct trade and connection is, as summarised by Lizzie, exactly ‘what we love about craft chocolate’ namely ‘that you get really close to the individual farmer’.  The emerging availability of beans from these and other unique origin growers is also what is making the craft market and Cocoa Runners’ library boom these last few years – and what you get a select taste of at their events.

Listening to Lizzie and Ama it mostly felt like a couple of friends were sitting me down and telling me about their jobs and area of expertise.  There was no lecturing, no sleek marketing spiel, just nice people and a good atmosphere, with a pile of fine chocolate samples.  Indeed, what is there not to like?!

 

You can find out more about Lucocoa’s chocolate here.

You can find out more about the ICCTT here.

Craft Chocolate London

Craft Chocolate Makers in London

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The London craft chocolate scene is booming.

When Cocoa Runners started in 2013 there were no small-batch craft makers in London. Back then you could pretty much count all of the UK’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers on one hand.

Fast forward less than four years and London has now got a growing handful of dedicated and talented craft chocolate makers. While fantastic small-batch chocolate makers are also appearing in cities such as Manchester and Sheffield, London truly is the capital of British craft chocolate.

More and more artisan makers are appearing in London. Each of these makers has a unique style but they all share a desire to craft the best possible chocolate straight from the bean.

In small workshops spaces, or even their spare rooms, they use the smallest number of ingredients possible to make chocolate with distinct flavours. The focus is not on flavourings or novelty ingredients but on the complex characteristics of the cocoa beans.

Discover the incredible pioneers crafting small-batch chocolate in London…

Lucocoa

ama andyThe first maker to officially launch in 2014 was North London’s Lucocoa, founded by Ama and Andy. As they recently told the Times, Ama and Andy have two objectives. First they want people to eat purer, better chocolate with good simple ingredients, and to that end their bars never contain anything more than five ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter, coconut sugar, milk and lucuma (a Peruvian superfood). More than that, Lucocoa is trying to encourage people to savour chocolate as one would a fine wine.

For International Women’s Day this year, Ama from Lucocoa has created a series of chocolates celebrating the achievements of female cocoa farmers and growers. We’ve partnered with her to bring you her International Women’s Day Limited Edition Belize dark chocolate bar.

The special wrapper depicts Minni Forman, Managing Director of Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize. Minni is key to all aspects of Maya Mountain’s operations. She oversees everything from Maya Mountain’s research farm to its post-harvest facilities and relationships with local farmers. Ama has used beans from Minni and Maya Mountain to craft this special bar.

DISCOVER LUCOCOA

Damson

Damson ChocolateNext is a maker very close to our heart. Before launching Damson Chocolate, Dom Ramsey was a prolific chocolate blogger and founding member of the Cocoa Runners team. In his very first year, Dom received two awards for his chocolate at the Academy of Chocolate Awards, as well as a prestigious ‘One to Watch’ Award.

Based in Islington’s Chapel Market Damson describes itself as ‘fanatical about quality’. Crafting bars in its modest Islington kitchen, every stage – from roasting the beans to wrapping the bars – is carried out with meticulous attention to detail. In celebration of the local area Dom even created a special dark chocolate, the Angel Bar.

DISCOVER DAMSON

Land

Land ChocolateBased in Bethnal Green, Land is London’s latest exciting chocolate arrival. Land was founded in 2016 by Phil Landers. Phil was previously a radio producer, but looking for a change, he went travelling around Central America where he discovered cacao.

Returning to London with his new-found passion, Phil trained with well-known chocolatier Paul. A. Young and then American chocolate makers Mast. Branching out by himself Phil is now crafting his own beautiful single-origin bars in an old furniture maker’s workshop. Currently a one-man show, he does everything himself, from hand-sorting his beans to hand-wrapping his bars.

His packaging is as stylish as it is informative. On the back you can discover exactly where the beans for each bar have come from. Focusing on South and Central America, Phil is keen to explore lesser-known origins and create bars with more unusual profiles.

DISCOVER LAND

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Sunday Brunch Grand Prix

British Chocolate Grand Prix – As Seen On Sunday Brunch….

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On Sunday 10 July we took Tim Lovejoy, comedian Joy Lycett and guest host Kathryn Ryan on a tasting flight of four on the UK’s finest craft chocolate makers.

To celebrate the British Grand Prix we bring you four of our finest British craft chocolate makers. While British bean to bar chocolate may not be as well-known as British racing green, we think all four of these makers are winners. And it’s not just us – each of these incredible British artisans has won countless awards with its chocolate bars.

To begin we journey to Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire where Duffy Sheardown has crafted a very special bar exclusively for the Grand Prix. Before changing lanes and become the UK’s leading milk chocolate maker, Duffy was an engineer for Formula One. Not only that, he helped manage the team that broke the land speed record.  He has designed a special wrapper to commemorate this huge achievement. Unwrap the unique packaging, take a bite and savour a little bit of history.  Kathryn Ryan chose this sweet, creamy milk chocolate as her pick of the bars.

Then veering south we travel to Dorset where Solkiki are pioneering vegan artisan chocolate that is good for people, animals and the planet and tastes even better. Ever a fan of vegan chocolate, Joe couldn’t wait to try this bar. Next zoom over to Edinburgh and discover a brand new bar from the Chocolate Tree made using rare Colombian beans. Joe couldn’t get enough of the green, earthy notes of this bar. Finishing close to Cocoa Runners HQ, we head to Damson’s craft chocolate factory in Islington where Dom Ramsey crafts his bars. Tim picked this as his favourite bar – he loved the rich, berry notes of this Tanzanian cacao!

These four British chocolate bars (two milk and two dark) all taste different. Savour the bars and you will be amazed at the difference bean origin and the maker’s style has on the texture and flavour of the bars.

THE BRITISH CHOCOLATE GRAND PRIX COLLECTION

 

TDuffy Panama limited edition grand prix barhe first bar taste was Duffy’s Limited Edition Land Speed bar (Tierra Oscura milk 40%). As you bite into the soft milk chocolate inhale the sweet and fruity aroma. Hints of caramel and butterscotch swirl through dark cherries. A liquorice note rises through the sweetness to give a tingling finish.

Duffy sources the cocoa beans for his chocolate directly from cocoa farmers and co-operatives, ensuring a higher price for the farmer and a better quality product. For this bar he has used Directly-Traded fine cocoa beans bought directly from Dorothy (the farmer) in Panama.

solkiki maranon mylkNext up was the Solkiki Maranon Mylk 60% chocolate bar. This ‘milk’ chocolate bar is completely dairy free and instead uses coconut milk to create a sweet chocolate with a silky texture.

The coconut gives the bar a rich creaminess similar to a classic milk with a cooling finish. The bar has an unusual floral caramel flavour and we also detected a fresh coconut note from the milk. The chocolate’s toffee note combined with the coconut gives the chocolate a delicate panna cotta sweetness. This bar  has just won Silver at the International Chocolate Awards 2016.

The chocolate tree colombia huilaThen Spencer, Tim and the team taste the Chocolate Tree Colombia Huila dark bar. This bar is bursting with layers of complex flavour. Take a bite and rejoice in the intricate notes that overtake you and hit the back of palate.

The bar begins with fresh green spice and just a touch of liquorice before buttery coconut and cream emerge. Underneath discover a sweet floral haze full of rose water and pear drops. We noted just the smallest touch of bitterness before the long lingering finish. A cooling aftertaste leaves behind delicate rose on the tongue.

Chocolate Tree bought the beans for this bar direct from Aldemar Guzman. Aldemar grows his fine flavour cacao in the Huila region of South Western Colombia.

Damson Tanzania Kokoa KamiliLast but by no means least was London’s very own Damson’s Kokoa Kamili Tanzania 70% bar. The beans are naturally fruity with hints of plum and stone fruits. The smooth bar has a well-balanced acidity. The chocolate tastes like a fine red wine in bar format.

Damson has sourced the beans from Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania. Run by Simran and Brian in they buy beans directly from local farmers at above market prices. Kokoa Kamili then ferments and dries the beans at its purpose built workshop. Taking care of these post-harvest steps means that Kokoa Kamili is able to get the best out of the beans and so get farmers a better price. And at the same time farmers can focus on growing and harvesting their beans

 

Buy the British Chocolate Grand Prix Collection

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Forever Cacao Ashaninka

Beyond Fairtrade: Forever Cacao

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Tuesday night was our monthly tasting evening at the Winemakers Club in Farringdon. This month we were lucky enough to be joined by Pablo Spaull of Forever Cacao. Pablo and Cocoa Runners co-founder Spencer went head to head, each presenting some of their favourite bars (including Pablo’s own). Pablo also told us a little about how he first go into chocolate and how he sources his Peruvian beans. Continuing with our series on Fairtrade Fortnight, we wanted to share this incredible story with you!

Pablo’s journey began thanks to his friend and fellow Welshman Dilwyn Jenkins. Dilwyn was a lifelong champion of Peru’s indigenous peoples. While  studying anthropology at Cambridge he and fellow students BBC/Royal Geographical Society and made a documentary about the peoples he had met during his travels in Peru. It was the first time the Ashaninka community had been filmed. In 1985 Dilwyn also wrote the first Rough Guide to Peru, the first comprehensive English travel guide to the country.

The Ashaninka people are an indigenous people who live in the rainforests of  Peru (with a few groups over the border in Brazil). The last century has seen them face a number of threats with their lands being systematically reduced and their environment destroyed. Owing to internal conflicts in Peru and interest in natural resources from big business (including loggers, rubber tappers and oil companies) the Ashanika people have found themselves displaced, enslaved  and even killed. In the early 2000s they were given legal rights to some of their ancestral lands which is now a protected National Park. But these people who the Spanish conquistadors remarked upon for their ‘bravery and independence’ still face a huge number of threats. These threats include (both directly or indirectly) those posed by oil companies, drug traffickers, illegal lumberers, illegal roads, misinformed conservation groups, missionary groups, and diseases brought by outsiders.

AshaninkaDilwyn dedicated decades to supporting the Ashaninka people and helping them to combat the numerous threats they faced. He founded Ecotribal, to help the local people generate a sustainable income through coffee and other goods. One of these product was cacao. When Dilwyn first visited, the Ashaninka had just started to produce cacao as a cash crop. Some of these trees had been introduced from neighbouring regions but cacao also grow wild in the forest. This wild cacao is called the abuelos (grandfathers). No pesticides or chemical fertilisers are used by the growers and they all follow organic farming practices.

Working with Tinkareni and Coveja villages, Ecotribal has helped the Ashaninka people with the fermentation and post-harvest processing of the beans. They have provided training and equipment to local people to improve the how the beans are treated and therefore their overall quality. The Ashaninka have now formed their own Cacao Growers Association, taking charge of the growing, drying and fermenting themselves.

The Ashaninka producer’s association then sells the organic heirloom beans at a good price to Ecotribal and a cooperative downriver who test and sort the beans and continue the post-harvest process. The association separates a percentage of its income to pay for community health and emergency needs. Generating income from these sustainable sources sustains the people from the local villages such as the Cutivireni and protects their forest. Without this they would be forced to sell their trees to logging companies in order to survive.

It’s from this cooperative and Ecotribal itself that Pablo directly sources the beans for his Forever Cacao chocolate bars. Pablo not only pays a higher price for the beans but he knows that this money is going directly to the harvest and their families. He has a direct relationship with the people harvesting and processing them, visiting them and sending them chocolate made from their beans!

For Pablo, making chocolate was never just about creating delicious-tasting bars (although this was still fundamental). It’s also about supporting the Ashaninka people, the biodiversity of the Ene River region and safeguarding Ashaninka heirloom cacao. Thanks Dilwyn’s lifetime of work with the Peruvian people (which is now continued by Ecotribal and their partners Size of Wales & Cool Earth a huge amount habitat has been protected. They have seen forty-four indigenous communities galvanised into shielding 2.5 million acres of pristine rainforest safeguarding ancient Cacao and other crops they rely on.

Pablo is currently speaking to other Ashaninka groups and hoping to help more villages to generate income through the sustainable production of cacao.

Photographs by Alicia Fox, courtesy of Forever Cacao.

 

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International Women's Day

International Women’s Day 2016

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This International Women’s Day it seems only right to talk about the many women involved in crafting the delicious artisan bars that we love so much.

This past year, we’ve welcomed a number of female makers. From Amedei’s Cecilia Tessieri and Cynthia at Soma, to Lisi Montoya of Shattell, Luisa at Luisa Abram and Brits Chantal Coady at Rococo and Ama of Lucocoa, all of these women are crafting incredible bars. And even while they may not been the principle chocolate maker women play a pivotal role for a number of different makers. Dahlia at Fruition, Frederike at Chocolate Tree and Barbara at Pacari, Joanna at Pump Street are just a few.

Femmes De VirungaIt’s not just about the makers, but the people growing the cocoa beans. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, women have historically had little economic status or independence of any kind. Through its Femmes de Virunga bar program, Original Beans is empowering women in the region.

The chocolate maker is providing women with training in how to cultivate and produce high quality cacao so that they can become producers themselves. Original Beans also runs literacy and leadership courses to further equip local women with the skills they need.

And even better, women in the region have the opportunity to put these skills to use. The women’s co-operative runs its own radio station and seedling nursery. As part of its ‘One Bar One Tree’ policy Original Beans also donates cacao trees to local women for them to sell or cultivate. Now, even the most isolated women farmers can benefit from the community and expertise of the women’s cooperative and enjoy a long term and fully sustainable livelihood with all the economic advantages that come with this.

Shawn Aksinosie is another maker involved in raising the profile of women around the world. Through is Chocolate University program in Tanzania he funds an Empower Girls Askinosie Product Of Changeclub at local schools. The club aims to increase the retention and graduation rate of female students.

Askinosie has also pioneered a Sustainable Lunch Program. As part of this, Askinosie purchases local premium foods (Aromatic Premium Keyla rice in Tanzania, Tableya Cocoa Rounds in the Philippines) and sells them to people and speciality shops in the States. All of the profits are then used to fund school lunches for children in Tanzania and the Philippines. Since 2011 Aksinosie has provided more than 315 000 meals through the scheme. Malnutrition has decreased and academic performance and attendance in both the regions  has increased!

luisa abram

Beyond Fairtrade: Luisa Abram

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As part of our Fairtrade Fortnight series, we take you into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. One of our greatest discoveries of last year was Brazilian maker Luisa Abram.

Andre Banks and his daughter Luisa are the driving force behind the family-owned chocolate maker. The pair source their beans from a co-operative deep within Amazon. The local people harvest the beans from the cacao trees that grow wild in the Brazilian rainforest.

For the local communities, cacao represents a great source of income and much more. The cacao tress grow best in the shade. The canopy of larger trees and the naturally biodiverse environment of the rainforest therefore allows the cacao trees to thrive and bear fruit. As a result, it is the interest of local communities to do everything they can to protect and preserve their natural environment.Luisa A grower

These beans seem more like magic beans that ‘cocoa’. They provide a livelihood for local people, help to protect the rainforest and (thanks to the harvester’s and Luisa’s skills) produce delicious chocolate. Most excitingly, Andre and Luisa have just had confirmation that their cocoa beans really are special!

The USDA have just confirmed that the cocoa beans used in Luisa Abram’s 71% & 80% dark bars are member of the Purus family. The Purus river valley, a tributary of the Amazon River, is home to one of the 10 unique genetic varietys of the cacao plant (Purus). One the rarest strands, to our knowledge Luisa Abram is the only maker using Purus beans to make chocolate.

This really is truly an incredible discovery. It is a reminder of the vital role that local cooperatives have in protecting and preserving biodiversity. Through simple but sustainable practices we can support communities and respect their environment. In the words of Andre ‘Most river floodplain in the Amazon Forest at some point has cacao trees. […] 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!

Luisa Abram’s approach to chocolate making is admirable and simple. We were blown away when first tasted their two bars, and we can’t wait to see what new beans and new harvests will bring!

 

Discover Luisa Abram’s Chocolate

Fruition farm

Beyond Fairtrade: Fruition Chocolate

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Fruition is an American bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in the Catskill Mountains of Woodstock, NY. Founder Bryan Graham sources the cocoa for his bars from farms in several countries all of which are Fairtrade and Organic.

Bryan trades directly with the farmers in these countries, giving them much higher prices for their best beans. Paying them more and going direct is not only better for the farmers. Bryan I thus able to get the highest quality beans and have more visibility on how they are treated. With the high quality cocoa beans, lovingly cared for by the growers, Bryan is able to make his award-winningly delicious chocolate!

One of the origins Bryan uses the most is Peru. He uses these Peruvian beans in his dark milk, Maranon Dark, Dark Chocolate, and 100%. Traveling to Peru and visiting the regions where their cocoa beans are grown, Bryan Graham and his wife Dahlia were both inspired.

Bryan to craft his award-winning chocolate bars. Dahlia had previously spent a year teaching Peru and after their trip decided to set up her own educational foundation. The charity is based in the Saylla in the Peruvian Andes.

Here the Corazón de Dahlia development centre provides education and support to rural children and families. The social and educational project aims to develop skills and values through various outlets such as social development, cultural awareness, literacy proficiency, and mental health.

The organisation weeks to improve the quality of life for children, families, and the society at large by offering tangible alternatives in order to advance their education through training, guidance, counselling, and support.

Through its Center for the Promotion of Child & Family Development, it runs a number of different schemes including English lessons, field trips and cooking lessons. Activities such as their arts & crafts, dance lessons and even their robotics programming project give the children the opportunity to engage in rewarding and fun educational projects beyond the classroom. The organisation also runs a library that local students can use. Find our more about Corazón de Dahlia by clicking here.

Although the charity itself is separate to Fruition chocolate, Dahlia’s work in Peru was inspired by her and Bryan’s trips visiting farmers in the region. Her project gives back to the communities and people that have given us delicious chocolate.

Fruition’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond chocolate. Their delicious chocolate bars are placed in biodegradable bags and wrapped in paper.  These use soy-based and vegetable-based inks that are better for the environment and easily recycled.

 

Discover Fruition’s Chocolate

Pacari Chocolate

Beyond Fairtrade: Pacari

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As part of our series for Fairtrade Fortnight we are looking at different bars from makers whose commitment to their farmers and suppliers goes above and beyond Fairtrade.

Pacari RawIts classic Raw 70% bar sums up Pacari’s commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices as well as making great chocolate. The bar uses unroasted cacao that has been minimally processed. The focus is on the natural flavours of the cocoa beans. These are sourced from Ecuadorian farmers that Pacari works closely with. Pacari helps to educate the farmers on how to produce the best quality beans and therefore the best tasting chocolate!

Pacari is a family owned bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Ecuador. The company was founded by Santiago Peralta and his wife Carla Barboto in 2002. They wanted to create a business based on socially and environmentally sustainable principles. But more than that, they wanted the company to promote fine flavour Ecuadorian cacao and support farmers and growers.

The couple started by learning about cacao and the steps involved in making a chocolate bar. Ecuador is renowned for its high quality cacao, the ‘Arriba Nacional’ bean. Traditionally this is grown in the upriver basins regions of the Guayas River. The cacao trees in these areas have been growing for hundreds of years. The natural environment and lack of intensive agriculture, means the trees have been able to cross-pollinate freely, increasing the cacao’s diversity and helping disease resistance.

Santiago and Carla sought out the famers and owners of these small plantations. Over time they have established relationships with the people who grow their beans, always going direct to them rather than dealing with middlemen. In doing so they can guarantee that the farmers receive a much higher price for their beans. Farmers are thus better able to support themselves and incentivised for growing the high quality organic cacao that Pacari uses in its bars.

But Pacari’s relationship to its farmers is not just about price. Santiago describes a ‘mutual connection’ between them and the farmers as they work towards a common goal. They help the farmers and their families get the best out of their beans. They educate them on the different staged of the chocolate making process, from growing to harvesting to fermenting and drying. Collectively sharing knowledge is good for everyone: farmers get better yield and Pacari gets better beans and create a solidarity between producer and maker.

PacariSays Santiago Peralta, “Cacao is not just a way to get money. There’s a consciousness that this cacao will be transformed into something yummy called chocolate that will represent the country. They know they carry a responsibility—so this comes out in our chocolate.”

Santiago and Carla also help to provide machinery and drying facilities for farmers who can’t afford it. Santiago realised that many of the farmers were transporting the huge sacks of cocoa beans on their backs, exhausting and hurting themselves in the process. To help he started micro-financing donkeys to the farmer donkeys so his workers knees are spared some of the trials and tribulations of carrying cocoa pods through the jungle.

Pacari is also looking to the future of cacao and trying to get a new generation involved. Says Peralta ” we are working on programs getting new generations in the process of cacao; how can we show young people that the countryside can provide a good living too rather than moving to the city to work with computers.” These initiatives help to preserve the traditional methods of growing cacao and proud Ecuador’s heritage of fine flavour beans.

This tradition is not just a matter of farmer and maker producing great tasting cocoa beans. It’s about creating a product that’s better for the planet and will help to preserve the biodiverse environment where the cacao is grown. Pacari only buy from certified organic farmers not large-scale plantations to help protect the unique and irreplaceable Ecuadorian beans.

 

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Additional material taken from NBC.

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