cacao is one of the most precious resources this planet has to offer. the flavour complexity of the “noble” cacao strains stands nothing short that of wine or coffee. after all, a cacao’s flavour can be determined by these factors: genetics (strain), terroir (where it grows), the year’s climate (how sunny / rainy), the fermentation (thorough, light), how it’s dried, how it’s roasted (intense or soft) and how it’s further processes (melanging, conching, ...). this in mind you immediately see that cacao is more than just the cheap commodity powder from the supermarket used for baking.
1. it all starts with an amazing bean
we source all our beans exclusively from agroforested or wild land. that means the cacao always grows in harmony with other plants. cacao experts know that the aromas of the environment rub off on the cacao, hence it “sucks up” the flavours of its surrounding plants. try our cacao from trinidad for instance and see if you can spot some of the traces of nutmeg that trinidad is famous for. needless to say that you won’t ever be able to achieve such a complex flavour in monoculture-grown bulk cacao.
2. which gets skillfully fermented & dried for weeks
what we know as cacao are the beans obtained from splitting open cacao fruits & peeling them out of the pulp. some of the pulp remains on the bean and forms the basis for yeast & bacteria to start their fermentation game. fermentation done right is a form of art. it determines a great deal of the cacao’s flavour. being masters at fermentation is, after all, what makes wineries & craft beer brewers stand out and it’s no different with great cacao. the right fermentation practice is handed down through generations of cacao farmers. with the fermentation taking place in the country of origin and often even on the farm where the cacao is grown, it takes a great deal of trust into the people who ferment the cacao to know their business. this is one of the reasons why we believe in our business approach: not only is our way of direct interaction with the farmers the more socially sustainable way to do cacao trade - it is also the only way that ensures consistent quality to you, the consumer. we have by far not even come close to a level of perfection when it comes to fermentation. countless trial & error experiments will have to be constituted by cacao farmers in cooperation with craft chocolate makers throughout the world. we aim to join the ranks of the pioneers in this development towards better cacao.
3. then roasted to perfection
just like coffee, cacao develops the other great half of its flavour profile during the roasting process. with the exception of our trinidad cacao, this happens in our chocolate kitchen in berlin, germany. there we experiment a lot with different roasting times and temperatures for every bean and this is one of the most exciting things about making chocolate that takes a lot of experience & skill.
4. until it is finally stone ground for days and turns into cacao mass a.k.a. “ancient chocolate”
after the cacao beans have been freed of their husk (which we sell as amazing cacao husk tea), they get carefully & slowly stone-ground for days until it turns into a homogenous mass. “melangeur” machines constantly turn two big granite wheels against a granite base with the aim of breaking down the cacao beans into ever so tiny particles. in the end, after days of grinding, the particles are so small that your tongue can’t distinguish them anymore and the cacao mass smoothly melts on your tongue or dissolves readily in hot water.