Colombia

Engaged Ethics

Colombia’s Sierra Nevada region has the world’s highest coastal mountain range, right on the Caribbean, with fertile valleys perfect for cocoa growing. It’s also home to some of the world’s finest cocoa varieties, cultivated here by indigenous people for centuries.

We source our cocoa from the region through Carlos Velasco (pictured) at Cacao de Colombia, an organisation that is working with more than 200 local farmers to help them keep their fair share of the wealth from Colombia’s exceptional heritage cocoa. They act as a bridge between us at Hotel Chocolat and good cocoa by working closely with local growers and cooperatives to source the highest quality beans at fair, premium prices.

Farmers here face problems including:

  • Low internal market prices;

  • Lack of incentives for producers;

  • Lack of knowledge and infrastructure to make the most of some of the best cacao beans in the world.

Cacao de Colombia has been providing technical assistance and a stable market to farmers in the Sierra Nevada region since 2012. The organisation trains its farmers in best practice for growing healthy cacao of better quality, with higher yields. In 2015 they established their cacao school, where they innovate best practices, educate producers through their model farm and also process wet cacao.

Wet Cacao

Fresh cacao beans, straight from the pod. When you cut them open, they’re bright purple and bitter, surrounded by sweet-tasting, fruity cocoa pulp.

Dry Cacao

Cacao that’s ready for chocolate making. It has been fermented in its fruity pulp, so most of its flavour is now locked into the bean. It’s stable, dry and transportable.

The organisation also helps farmers to identify high-quality cacao varieties and provides training to improve quality and output. This has also improved the quality of life for farmers, who are reporting a 72% higher annual income than before. Beans here have notes of red berries, citrus and dried figs and raisins, with a sweet aroma.