Chocolate from the best beans on Earth:
More than 90% of the world’s cacao beans are produced in Africa, Brazil or Indonesia and are low quality Forestero varieties. This cacao typically harbors minimal flavor compounds and requires very complex processing techniques to reduce the characteristic bitter/astringent flavor, which is then further diluted with milk fat and other additives.
The Noble beans (highest quality cacao beans) produced in Latin America and the Caribbean have traditionally been recognized as the highest quality varietals for dark chocolate production. These flavorful varieties make up less than 10% of the total world production of cacao. The botanical origin of Theobroma cacao is the Ecuadorian Amazon. While Olmec people and their Central America descendents were domesticating the Criollo and other noble cacaos from 1500 B.C., Ecuador gave rise to the unique Cacao Nacional varietal. The unique fruity, floral flavor of Ecuador’s Cacao Nacional bean has been recognized for centuries.
The organic, shade-grown Cacao Nacional found in the Kallari communities earned international recognition for the small cooperative when Slow Food selected it for the prestigious Presidium award in 2004. Although a complete genetic analysis has not been carried out, the Kallari communities appear to have cacao varietals of such diverse backgrounds as to give it the complex flavor of a blend – albeit with the distinction of a single origin cacao. Kallari farmers are known to have an ensemble of varieties in their tiny ½ acre fields, including the renowned noble cacaos of the Americas: Cacao Nacional, Criollo, Trinitario, Venezolano, & Blonde Cacao.
Such is the worldwide demand for the high quality found in Cacao Nacional, that Nestle spent 20 years in vain attempting to introduce this unique varietal in other countries, only to find that it requires the particular climatic and geologic conditions found only in Ecuador. Nacional and these other quality varietals typically receive more than double the world market trade prices for cacao beans. Where individual farmers see and reap the benefits of involvement with Kallari is that they receive direct payment above the amount paid by middlemen throughout Ecuador. In fact, they receive even more than middlemen receive on the coast for sales to bulk exporters. Kallari farmers can receive anywhere between 20-60% more than non-associated farmers.
This may seem to be an incredible increase in income only through selling cacao via a particular collective, but the benefits will become greater still as chocolate production capacity increases. The exportation of ultra-high quality finished chocolate products brings in a massive increase in revenue that is normally realized only by large international companies with no substantial farmer connection, if the companies be “Fair Trade” certified or not. Kallari farmers have already seen an annual increase in the price they receive per pound, with the export of our chocolate bars, we plan to expand to various social programs, including retirement benefits, health insurance, educational funding and biological monitoring programs in Kallari communities.