Adventures In Chocolate
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We’ll stop at nothing to make the best chocolates on the planet. From mule trekking in Colombia and delivering babies in Ghana to getting to the roots of Saint Lucia, there’s more behind your favourite bar than you might think…
All chocolates are not created equal – you can tell as much when you taste them. But there’s a reason that ours taste the way they do: we’ve gone the extra mile – often literally – to find the best ingredients from around the world and bring them home to our Cambridgeshire Inventing Room.
On a mule in Colombia
In March 2014 in the mountains of Colombia, our Head of Chocolate Development, Adam Geileskey, heard rumours of a rare white Criollo cocoa growing just 26 miles from the Caribbean coast. The catch: it was only accessible by mule.
Already impressed by the local cocoa of Tumaco, on the western coast of the country, he had now reached Arauca in the northeast, where talk was of the white bean being prized for its lack of bitterness. He was told it grew on the land of the indigenous Arhuacos, a Chibchan-speaking community who have harvested cocoa for more than 2,000 years. Intrigued, he knew he had to try it for himself – and for us back home.
“It felt like going on a pilgrimage,” he says, “a quest to see authentic wild cocoa growing in its natural habitat.”
There may not have been enough of the rare bean to begin production back home in the UK, but were it not for his detour north he may never have come upon the unusual, malty Aracataca bean today found in your Rare & Vintage Aracataca, Colombia 95% Dark Chocolate Bar . It was from the same visit that he brought back the irresistibly complex Cienaga, which you can taste in its various attitudes in our Rare & Vintage 67% Supermilk,75% Dark and 80% Dark Chocolate Bars.
New life in Ghana
It’s not only Saint Lucia where we’ve been engaging ethically with cocoa farmers. Since 2002, we’ve been working with the Green Tropics NGO to drill wells and set up cocoa nurseries to give farmers in Osuben, Ghana young, robust, disease-resistant cocoa varieties with much bigger yields than their existing older trees.
In late December 2015, the first baby was born at a medical centre in the region built with funds raised by ourTasting Club members. Today, it provides crucial healthcare to 5,000 people living nearly 30 kilometres from the nearest hospital, with little access to transport.
The community showed their gratitude by appointing our very own Adam a tribal chief or ‘nana’, with special responsibility for helping them to grow their cocoa industry. As of April 2017, he has just returned from his third visit since the centre opened, where he has been exploring with the NGO Green Tropics how to implement our shared vision for a cocoa-farming community that’s successful and wealthy enough to invest in projects like the medical centre without needing outside help.
In the meantime, our cocoa from Ghana brings its unmistakable notes of freshly baked sourdough and white coffee to your Rare & Vintage 100% Dark Chocolate Bars well as the 85% Dark,75% Supermilk and 55% Milk.
Your chocolate discoveries
Have you made a cocoa find of your own – maybe something from our Rare & Vintage chocolate or one of our Selectors? Tell us your story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – we’re @HotelChocolat!