Join us in saying ‘Bienvenido a Maraná!’, the newest Peruvian maker to joinour Chocolate Library.
Peru is know to have a rich history of growing cocoa, however it has been relatively slow to join the revolution in craft chocolate making. Maraná joins only a handful of makers crafting chocolate from bean to bar in Peru.
After a decade in the corporate world, founders Zulema and Giuseppe were insearch of a more fulfilling career. They had come to learn about the growing popularity of Peruvian cocoa as an ingredient, and decided to explore ways inwhich they might be able to use their native cacao to craft chocolate in Peru. They embarked on a journey of exploration, learning in parallel about thedifferent cacao regions and profiles found within Peru, and about the technical skills needed to craft these natural ingredients into world class bars.
Very quickly they decided that their focus was to be on sourcing cacao fromsingle regions, and maintaining close relationships with those involved ingrowing the cacao. For Zulema and Giuseppe, this means more than just giving their farmers a fair price for their beans. They believe that the only wayin which Maraná can grow and improve is if their farmers grow too. When weasked them about this, they said “At Maraná, we value the work of our cacao farmers and seek to make a real impact on theirlives and those of theirfamilies. We work with them hand-in- hand, as partners, implementing fair price policies that ensure sustainable development and sound living conditions. We also organize programs aimed at improving their harvesting and post-harvesting techniques and optimizing the quality of their products, thus allowing them to gain access to markets thatoffer higher prices.”
In order for this to be a sustainable approach, very early on Zulema andGiuseppe decided to source cocoa from only three regions where they areconfident that the cocoa is top quality and the farmers are keen to work inpartnership with Maraná. Rather than producing a generic ‘Peruvian’ chocolate, they produce microbatches of chocolate, made from beans fromeach region. They believe that this micro batch approach would allow them tosource the finest potable beans, and that by focussing on a single region foreach of their bars, they are able to showcase not only the flavours of Peru as awhole, but the flavours of the individual regions. Zulema and Giuseppe identified three particular regions that they wanted to concentrate on from thestart: Cusco, Piura and San Martin.
Through their distinctive packaging, Marana has sought to represent thecultural identity and heritage of their nation with designs that perfectly capture the mystery of Peru’s Amazonian folklore. For example, the San Martin collection is inspired by the mysterious and alluring Amazonian engravings. These present images of everyday life for those living within the Amazon. Theyare then illustrated against the magical and mystical backdrop of their myths. You can see gigantic boas and magical sirens next to jungle farmers andvillagers on these bars.
Their hard work has paid off – not only do their bars taste (and look!) great, but they have also been recognised by a host of international awarding bodies. They received a number of awards in the Latin American leg of the 2017 International Chocolate Awards, and two Silver Awards in the World Finals ofthe International Chocolate Awards in 2017.
We first met Zulema and Giuseppe when they were travelling in Europe earlierthis year, and we’ve been lucky enough to catch up in person again just thispast month in London and Paris – we can’t wait to share more about theirupcoming projects with you too!
We hope you love these bars too!
This week we are delighted to say Welcome!, Yokoso and Bem Vinda toTomoko-san and Sue of our first Portugese Craft Chocolate Maker, Feitoria doCacao.
The genesis of Fetoria do Cocao is a combination of travel and cooking. Sue Tavares has a long career as a chef, and Tomoko-san and she met whilstTomoko-san was exploring Portugal as part of her singing career. A few yearsafter meeting, they went on an epic adventure, involving changing planes multiple times, to visit Sao Tome and find out more about cacao growing andvisit cacao plantations. The were blown away by what they saw.
Sue and Tomoko-san travelled all over the island, met local farmers and were humbled by the day to day challenges these farmers overcame. They also experienced the wonders of freshly harvest cocoa beans and were fascinatedby the different flavours that local farmers could coax out of the beans throughdifferent fermentation and drying techniques.
Returning to Portugal they determined to build Portugal’s first craft chocolate company. In the years since they first saw cocoa growing in Sao Tome, theyhave spent every spare moment learning as much as they could about crafting fine chocolate bars – corresponding with makers in the UK, Japan, the US, Germany and indeed all over their They have made it their mission to become connoisseurs of craft chocolate, tasting bars from a huge range of makers tohelp develop their palates and hone their craft.
Initially they experimented out of their kitchen, and then a year or so ago they opened a small story, with a craft factory in the basement, in their home town of Evora – described by the Portugese as the “Venice of Portugal” thanks to its canals and seaside geography. Evora is a short train ride from Oporto – and we were lucky enough earlier in the year to visit them, taste some of their new bars and see their operations first hand.
Since then we’ve caught up with them again in London when they visited to collect their well deserved awards from the the Academy of Chocolate, and weare now delighted to be able to offer you some of their bars.
Tomoko-san and Sue hand craft all their bars from small batches of beans. Their bars are, as far as we know, impossible to find out outside of Portugal –and Sue and Tomoka sell almost all of their bars straight from their factory assoon as they are made. It took nearly six months for us to persuade them to sell us an allocation of bars, so we would warmly encourage you to try them while you can.
Visit our Chocolate Library to taste these amazing bars today!
We hope you love these bars too!