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

This 70% bar is from our first Brazilian maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa and her family use wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans they add nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao. 

Along with Fresco’s selection, this is also one of the first vintage bars to join our chocolate library. Much like a fine red wine, the tannins in dark chocolate can age and develop a bar’s flavour profile, enhancing and transforming the taste. The concept of vintage chocolate adds yet another layer to our understanding of what impacts the flavour in chocolate. You can now try bars from a single maker which are made in the exact same way, with the same cocoa percentage, from the same estate within the same origin, with the only difference being the year in which the beans were harvested. You’ll be amazed at the difference in flavour that this seemingly subtle change will make to the chocolate that you taste.

With this Luisa Abram bar we detected strong treacle and liquorice notes with an almost malted molasses. Like Luisa Abram’s other bars the mouthfeel of this vintage 70% is beautifully creamy which makes it a very indulgent treat.

This 81% vintage bar is from our first Brazilian maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa and her family use wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans they add nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao. 

Along with Fresco’s selection, this is also one of the first vintage bars to join our chocolate library. The concept of vintage chocolate adds yet another layer to our understanding of what impacts the flavour in chocolate. Much like a fine red wine, the tannins in dark chocolate can age and develop a bar’s flavour profile, enhancing and transforming the taste. You can now try bars from a single maker which are made in the exact same way, with the same cocoa percentage, from the same estate within the same origin, with the only difference being the year in which the beans were harvested. You’ll be amazed at the difference in flavour that this seemingly subtle change will make to the chocolate that you taste.

Much like Luisa’s 70% vintage, we tasted similar hints of spice and liquorice but that extra 11% packs more of a punch. The malted molasses provides more of a backdrop in this bar. Instead, sharp green floral notes unfold as the bar melts.

This 70% bar is the first bar from our first Brazilian maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa and her family use wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans they add nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao. 

The bar has a thick, slightly fudgy texture that blends well with the dark sweet notes of black treacle. Mixed in with the intense, almost burnt fudge is a floral spice – we detected hints of cardamom with just a shadow of liquorice on the finish. A complex, interesting and indulgent bar, using cacao that is not widely available – this bar is absolutely worth a try.

This 81% dark chocolate is the first bar of our first Brazilian maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa and her family use wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans they add nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao. 

A darker version of their 70% – we detected similar hints of spice and liquorice but with a great deal intensity. The treacle and burnt sugar flavours are more muted in this bar.

 

This 70% dark chocolate bar, and Gold award winner 2018, is crafted by Brazilian chocolate maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa and her family use wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans they add nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao.

The bar comes in two 40g individual squares, ideal for sharing or for simply savouring the bar.

Tasting Notes

On first taste, we instantly fell in love with this chocolate. The flavour profile of this bar is foremost chocolatey, with then a hazelnut-edge. It is a bar that one can only describe as a chocolate brownie, with both its rich flavour and fudgy texture. Its aroma hits immediately with intensely chocolatey, fresh bread and warm treacle notes. The thicker mouth texture of this bar lends itself to a slow melt, making the enjoyment of the bar last for that little bit longer.

This 70% dark chocolate is another fantastic bar from our first Brazilian maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa and her family use wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans they add nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao. 

The cocoa from this bar is a wild cocoa sourced from the Rio Jari region, and formed part of the 2017 harvest.

This bar has a green, almost earthy aroma, but the flavour is most unexpected.  A sharply astringent dark chocolate, strong honey notes with a hint of hazlenuts.  We detected a richly indulgent cocoa finish and some toasty malted notes.

The chocolate makers in this month’s box have chosen cacao fromspecific regions with unique micro-climates. Here cacao beans growwith flavour profiles that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

First is a new bar from Luisa Abram. Luisa is dedicated to finding Brazil’s rarest cacaos, mostly grown by remote Amazon communitieswho can only be reached by boat. This new dark is no exception anduses cacao from the Rio Jari region collected during the 2017 harvest.

Next Chocolate Tree has used cacao from a single Venezuelan region. The bean grown here is Venezuelan Porcelana, a varietal unique tothe country which is hugely prized by chocolate makers worldwide.

Then, Rob Anderson from Fresco is one of two chocolate makers inthe world to have these beans, grown by a new association ofsmallholder farmers in the Polochic Valley. It is a delight to be able toshare this with you.

Finally we want to introduce a new craft maker Lapa-Lapa. Founder Pieter-Jan is a Belgian now living and making chocolate inNicaragua. He is currently just using one type of bean, Rugoso, whichgrows in the jungles of Matagalpa.

We hope you enjoy this selection.

LUISA ABRAM – RIO JARI 2017 HARVEST

The dark chocolate has a green, almost earthy aroma. However on first bite, sharp notes along with strong honey and hazelnuts are revealed. The richly indulgent cocoa finish is topped by a toasty malted touch.

The cacao used in this bar is a wild cocoa grown in the Rio Jari region, and formed part of the 2017 harvest. Luisa Abram, the founder and namesake was our first Brazilian chocolate maker. Luisa, her father Andre, and the rest of her family all pitch in. To make her bars, Luisa uses wild cacao sourced from small cooperatives in the upper basin of the Amazon. To the beans she adds nothing but a little organic sugar, giving the true flavour of Amazonian cacao.

Try this single origin bar from Luisa Abram today

CHOCOLATE TREE – AMBANJA MADAGASCAR

A sweetly milk chocolate, whose wonderful

flavours linger on the tongue. Typical berry flavours of Madagascan cacao are blended with sweeter touches of caramel and fudge. The milk gives a rich creamy texture.

Ali and Friederike of Chocolate Tree craft all their bars in their workshop just outside Edinburgh. They are dedicate to working as closely with their suppliers as possible. In 2015 they went to Madagascar to visit Bertil Akesson who owns the Ambanja farm near the Sambirano River in Madagascar. Working closely with the people growing their cacao ensures that they are paid a fair wage. This kind of rainforest agriculture also promotes biodiversity.

Try this milk chocolate bar from Chocolate Tree today

FRESCO – POLOCHIC VALLEY, GUATEMALA; A COCOA RUNNERS EXCLUSIVE

A dark chocolate bar with a perfect slow and smooth melt. The mellow bar opens with hints of rich, fudgy brownie. Gradually notes of dark plums and raisins rise through, creating an intensely fruity finish,

Fresco is one of just two chocolate makers to use these rare Guatemalan beans. The beans are grown by an association of 500 smallholder farmers in the Polochic Valley, one of the hottest micro-climates in Guatemala. As well as cacao they grow coffee and produce honey. The Valley is right next to La Reserva de Biosfera Sierra de las Minas, a forest reserve, which the farmer association is also responsible for protecting.

Try this exclusive bar from Fresco today

LAPA-LAPA – RUGOSO NICARAGUA

This powerful dark bar balances acidity, bitterness and sweetness. It has notes of sharp berries and stone fruits which blend in the finish with tropical wood, smoked tea and aromatic tobacco. An intense chocolate that lingers on the tongue.

Belgian Pieter-Jan’s lifelong passion for chocolate had taken him far from home. Seeking out the best cacao to make the best chocolate, he found himself in Nicaragua where he now makes his bars from local beans. The name Lapa-Lapa comes from his Nicaraguan legend about a mysterious being called the Lapa-Lapa. This individual roams the jungles and hills of Nicaragua every night searching for the best quality cacao.

Try the Lapa-Lapa bar today

Welcome to our March Collection. The bars in this box reflect craft chocolate’s passion for new technology and ancient knowledge.

SOLSTIC BUNDIBUGYO UGANDA

Bean Origin: Uganda Cocoa Content: 70%

First welcome a new addition, all the way from Utah. Solstice is another wonderful chocolate maker to emerge out of the American craft chocolate movement. Unlike many other makers, Solstice uses a fluid roaster for its beans, which allows for subtler, lighter flavours.

This dark bar has an aroma reminiscent of freshly baked banana bread. Layers of toasted nuts come through, creating a gianduja-like chocolate experience. A creamy melt with hints of ripe banana throughout.    

Solstice Chocolate is an American chocolate maker settled amongst the scenic vistas of Salt Lake City, Utah. It was founded in 2013 by husband and wife, Scott Query and DeAnn Wallin. Chocolate seemingly made its way into DeAnn’s family activities, from as a child making chocolates with her grandmother, to now making chocolates with her daughters. What started as an artisanal hobby with the family, has now become an award-winning business. 

LUISA ABRAM RIO ACARA

Bean Origin: Brasil Cocoa Content: 70%

Next is a very special bar from Brazilian maker, Luisa Abram. Luisa sources her cacao from co-operatives deep within the rainforest, so remote that they can only be reached by boat.

An indulgent dark chocolate with a rich flavour and slightly fudgy texture. Its aroma combines intensely chocolatey touches with fresh bread and warm treacle. The bar develops toasted hazelnuts and even bigger chocolate notes.

Luisa Abram is a family-owned Brasilian chocolate company. Everyone plays their part: mum Miriam oversees logistics and finance, dad Andre is in charge of the machines, sister Andrea assists with legal questions, and finally Luisa herself takes care of tempering and wrapping. The beans themselves are sourced by Luisa and her family from several rainforest cooperatives who harvest and ferment the cacao which grows naturally under the shade of taller forest trees. 

FRUITION MADAGASCAR DARK

Bean Origin: Madagascar Cocoa Content: 74%

Next is a bar using Akesson’s cacao from Madagascar, a benchmark of fine flavour cacao for many artisan makers. Fruition has crafted a bar which successfully brings out the bean’s incredibly fruity profile.

This fresh and vibrant dark chocolate bursts with fruits. High notes of citrus and raspberry balance perfectly in this delicately creamy bar. More intense notes come through on the finish and add a richer chocolatey quality. 

Fruition is a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate workshop located in the Catskill Mountains of New York. With tremendous attention to detail, they slowly roast and stone grind carefully selected cocoa beans to accentuate their inherent flavour. Sometimes being a perfectionist really pays off when the chocolates tastes this good. For this bar, Bryan and Dahlia of Fruition have sourced their cacao from Akesson’s Estate in Madagascar, which is famed for its fine-flavour beans. 

FRANCESCHI CHORONI DARK

Bean Origin: Venezuela Cocoa Content: 70%

Finally we’ve a bar grown and crafted by the Franceschi family in Venezuela. The family has been working in the cacao industry for close to 200 years, and have put all that experience into its chocolate.

This dark chocolate melts slowly but smoothly, gradually releasing its flavours all the way through to its lingering finish. Darker notes of wood and tobacco blend with fresh papaya and a honeyed sweetness.

The Franceschi family has been in the cacao export business since 1830. In 1990, the family started to reconstruct and revive its own cacao farm with the intention to collect, cultivate and preserve different strains of Venezuela’s heritage cacao, known as Criollo. For many years the family worked with Gianluca Franzoni, founder of Domori‘s Chocolate in Italy, until in 2009 it founded its own chocolate making company under the family name, Franceschi.

 

This collection can be bought as our Box Of The Month gift box for the special price of £24.95 while stocks last, until late April 2019.

 

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]On Sunday 10 October, Cocoa Runners co-founder Spencer returned to Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch to share four of the newest & most exciting craft chocolate bars in the Cocoa Runners Library. Click here to buy the full collection or read on to explore the individual craft chocolate bars for yourself.

 

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Original Beans – Cru Udzungwa 70%

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Original Beans Cru Udzungwa

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]First is a brand new addition from Original Beans. Its Cru Udzungwa dark chocolate has been crafted using beans from the edge of Udzungwa Mountain National Park in Tanzania. Locals grow the cacao trees in special village gardens. This gives locals a good source of income and thus supports local communities and their stewardship of Udzungwa National Park which is home to a number of endangered species, including African elephants.

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Georgia Ramon – Philippinen 80%

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Next is a Georgia Ramon’s Philippinen 80% bar. Cocoa Runner’s first German maker, the company was founded by Georg Bernadini and his partner Ramona Gustman. Georg has worked in the chocolate industry for over 20 years and has now put his years of knowledge and experience working for others to good use. The beans are sourced directly from the Puentespina family in the Philippines.

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Luisa Abram – 70%

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Then travel to the Amazon with Luisa Abram’s 70% dark chocolate bar. Luisa and her father Andre travel up through the Brazilian rainforests and up the Amazon river looking for rare cocoa beans and long-forgotten or undiscovered varietals. They buy their beans directly from the local communities who harvest, ferment and dry the beans. These are then shipped down-river to Luisa’s workshop where she transforms the precious cacao into incredible chocolate!

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Chocolat Bonnat – Javan Dark Milk

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Finally we have a decadent Chocolat Bonnat Javan Dark Milk from one France’s oldest chocolate makers. Chocolat Bonnat has been crafting chocolate in Voiron, France for over 130 years. The company is currently headed by the sixth generation of Bonnat chocolatiers Stephane Bonnat. Javan cacao has a particularly fine flavour and the island’s cocoa trees are believed to trace their roots all the way back to Venezuela.

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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default”][vc_column_text]Click here to buy the full collection or discover the individual craft chocolate bars for yourself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]