Custom sourcing for Scottish bean-to-chocolate maker
Meet Alastair Gower, owner of the Scottish chocolate company Chocolate Tree. His mission is to make award-winning chocolates using directly-traded heritage cacao beans. We searched and we found that farmer together. Mr. Aldamar Guzman and his farm 'Finca Bonanza' in Huila, Colombia was happy to offer his best beans to Alastair's when he heard how he works and operates. Aldamar is an experienced cocoa farmer with a very professional post-harvest approach. Alastair includes Aldamar on the product packaging and pays a premium for his high quality cocoa. This way, consumers can trust this chocolate is not only outstanding in its quality but also contributes to the livelihood of Aldamar and his family. And yes, an alliance between craftsman, this type of origin projects, with this kind of chocolate as a result, wins prices! (Silver at the Chocolate Awards 2016). To execute all this, one needs to be able to rely on dedicated and experienced people with expertise in many fields. Not only in agriculture but also in int. logistics, shipping. A great cocoa can be ruined when shipping is poorly executed. When I found the people from GranColombia Ltda. (GCT), I felt we had our perfect team.
Cocoa from Gran Colombia comes with high traceability and transparency guarantees. Everything they do, is out of passion for agriculture and preserving its local cultures. The people from Gran Colombia can work Single-origin as well as on Single-estate level (like with Aldemar Guzman). They focus on knowledge, developing post-harvest protocols/facilities and by doing special farm and genetics selection.
Sourcing and trading Cocoa, from Bean to Chocolate; My best example
Venezuela and Colombia, home to some amazing cocoas with unique genetics. Less than 10% of all the cocoa in the world is good enough to be called 'fine-flavor'. Fine-flavor cocoa is the basis for superior quality chocolate.
For craft chocolate-makers that still or again take the extra effort to make their chocolate from the bean, it's a quest to find the right batches, good enough to surprise their customers with exquisite flavours and aromas. Finding these beans however is only half of the work. The biggest challenge is to find people they can trust that can make sure and guarantee that these beans keep their quality, year after year, so the chocolate keeps its unique consistent qualities and will never disappoint its fans.
Cocoa comes from exotic regions and logistics and communication on large distances often comes with its own set of obstacles. There is also the issue of social-context, the ever more conscious consumer wants to know that their chocolates are free of child-labor and other abuses. Not an easy job.
After the cocoa is sourced, it's directly taken to the post-harvest facility for systemised fermentation and drying. This can be done according the preferences of a chocolate maker. These post-harvest processes are adapted according the specific genetics and varieties of each cocoa. Optimising them is a constant work in progress.
The craft chocolate maker
This is Alastair with his family visiting a farmer in Peru.
Meet Alastair Gower, owner of the Scottish chocolate company Chocolate Tree. His goal is to make award-winning level chocolate with beans that come from just one single farmer.
And he doesn't only talk about it, he really does it.
„Craft chocolate made using directly-traded heritage cacao beans. Precisely roasted, obsessively winnowed, slowly conched and patiently matured fine flavour chocolate“
To execute all this, one needs to be able to rely on dedicated and experienced people with expertise in many fields. Not only in agriculture but also in int. logistics, shipping, commodity markets and risk-hedging. When I found the people from GCT, I felt they have a passion for cocoa agriculture and preserving its local cultures.
IDEA: "Make and buy Bean-to-Chocolate as 'Direct-trade' as possible."
Bean-to-chocolate makers should make sure they work through fully transparent supply chains. Whomever they work with, their suppliers should be able to offer full traceability up-to individual farmer level. With the appropriate level of transparency, it's possible to know how much the farmer(s) are being paid extra per kilogram. The more direct we make the trade, the more control and information we have over the quality of the cocoa, the logistics and the livelihood of the farmers. In a 'as direct-trade as possible' model, the chocolate-maker could even request the farmer(s) to adapt post-harvest processes like fermentation and drying, to develop the ultimate, customised chocolate, capable of amazing the most spoiled chocolate-lover.
Include the farmer(s) in your packaging, marketing presentations and social-media. Show your customers exactly from whom and where your chocolate comes from and the relations you established. This is by far the best label you can work with.
Chocolate-lovers around the world:
Be critical in the chocolate you buy, vote with your currency! Make sure your chocolate maker can show you exactly were the cocoa comes from and that they really produce chocolate from the bean. Please support the real craft-chocolate makers in what they do. Blending origin with their craft to make excellent products, they really are a pearl in the food industry and deserve your vote.