THE FIRST FINE CHOCOLATE RANGE
PRODUCED 100% BY CACAO PRODUCERS
EL CEIBO COOP - BOLIVIA
In 2007 Chloé was contacted by a co-operative of cocoa farmers in Bolivia, in the heart of Latin America, who asked her to come and help them develop a range of chocolate for export, the first chocolate 100% produced by the cocoa growers.
Chloé, who spent three years of her childhood living in Bolivia, accepted the invitation with pleasure. This was the beginning of a beautiful and rewarding collaboration that allowed El Ceibo to develop a range of chocolate for the gourmet market, and distribute it worldwide. El Ceibo is the first and so far only brand of chocolate made 100% from the bean to the shelf by the cocoa farmers themselves.
El Ceibo is a large umbrella co-operative of 1500 cocoa producing families in the Alto Beni region in the north of Bolivia. The co-operative was founded in 1977 by a group of Indians of the High Plateau who, following two consecutive years of crippling drought, migrated to the sub-tropical region of Bolivia to save themselves from famine, and subsequently decided to grow cocoa.
Over the years the El Ceibo co-operative has grown and attracted other small co-operatives. Today it represents 55 unions of cocoa growers working together to build a better future for their children.
El Ceibo is one of the few producer co-operatives int he world with their own processing plant which transforms cocoa into semi-finished chocolate products such as cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Between 1997 and 2007 El Ceibo transported the cocoa, fermented and dried by its members, from the cultivation area 500 metres above sea level, to the plant located at 4100 metres above sea level, on the outskirts of La Paz. Part of this cocoa is exported and used as the raw material for chocolate production in Europe and the US (Alter Eco, Rapunzel, Claro etc.). Another part of this cocoa was used to produce semi-finished chocolate products for the domestic and international market, and the remaining cocoa was transformed into chocolate and confectionary for the international consumer.
Since 2007, and through the collaboration with Chloé Doutre-Roussel, el Ceibo has been producing a range of gourmet chocolate that is exported around the world to Japan, the US and many countries in Europe. These products have also been very successful in the domestic market which represents 60% of sales (and outselling the imported Lindt 70% bar). The range is an international success that continues to grow.
BEYOND FAIR TRADE
Cocoa produced by El Ceibo is certified Fair Trade and organic. However Bolivia does not produce any similarly certified sugar. The nearest neighbour producing certified organic and Fair Trade sugar is Paraguay, but when El Ceibo embarked on this adventure they decided it would be irrational to import sugar in order to be able to label their chocolate organic and Fair Trade. Firstly they decided it was better to support Bolivian farmers and to make a product that is 100% Bolivian. Secondly the negative impact on the environment of transporting sugar from another country is counter to their values. El Ceibo's priority is to produce a good product that consumers enjoy, that simultaneously helps the farmers and the environment. They vowed to be proud of their product and proud of their work.
El Ceibo is the first and to date only gourmet chocolate brand in the world made 100% from bean to shelf by the farmers themselves. El Ceibo is responsible for all harvesting, fermentation, drying and transport of their beans, plus the processing into chocolate in their factory, packing, shipping and billing. It is true that their product could benefit from organic and Fair Trade labels, but could you find a more equitable model of product development?
CACAO DE ORIGEN - VENEZUELA
CACAO DE ORIGEN is a bean to bar lab/ school based in Caracas, Venezuela, founded by Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe in 2012.
It is a meeting point for the research, education and promotion of Venezuelan cacao.
We make small batch chocolates from the bean, roast at very low temperatures and conch in stone grinders to offer chocolate bars in Cacao de Origen limited editions.
Within our lab we marry new technologies with the ancestral knowledge carried over from our farmers and the work of leading edge chocolate makers and professionals in order to reveal the work of these growers, the personality of each region and the wonders of our genetic diversity in a constant search for quality.
We train young people, women in vulnerable situation, cacao producers, today anyone eager to learn new skills to make a living in a country in a tragic economic and social situation.
Chloe is part of the regular teachers and assists in the management. She spends around 5 months a year in this space.
CACAO GRADER INTENSIVE CLASS- FCCI
The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) is a nonprofit organization devoted to identifying, developing, and promoting fine cacao and chocolate. We develop educational programming for consumers, chocolate professionals, specialty retailers, and foodservice professionals; conduct research and disseminate information on fine cacao and chocolate origin, processing, production, quality, and ethics; and build community by creating opportunities for knowledge sharing and mutual understanding throughout the cacao-chocolate supply chain.
Chloe is part of the teachers in the cacao grader class, specializing in licor and chocolate evaluation.
FCCI provides rigorous training in cacao sampling and calibration for professionals who seek to consistently and accurately evaluate cacao quality worldwide.The goal in this training is to create a common language and communication tool for cacao quality, giving all supply chain stakeholders a more accessible, objective way of providing feedback to one another. Our curriculum was designed following significant research with cacao producers, chocolate professionals, and scholarly experts. The course is suitable for cacao producers, quality managers, technical advisers, importers, exporters, chocolate makers and manufacturers, chocolatiers, and retail professionals.
The course teaches participants how to evaluate cacao and chocolate using a variety of traditional techniques, while focusing on FCCI’s innovative cacao grading protocol. The FCCI protocol is unique due to its simplicity, repeatability, and accessibility, opening participation in quality conversations to all supply chain stakeholders in an unprecedented manner. It therefore serves as a critical complement to traditional chocolate liquor and finished chocolate product sampling protocols used in many chocolate companies.
INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIALITY CACAO MARKET
Intercacao exports cacao from Venezuela. The company belongs to the Prosperi familly who has been exporting bulk cacao from Venezuela for more than 140 years. They were introduced to the potential of the speciality cacao market by Chloe and for the last 4 years she has coached them to develop a range of "special cacaos " and find a market for them. The work included the set up a lab and training of the team in charge for the systematic analysis of the quality of cacao samples collected all over the country. Later she developed a couverture Chuao 75% HEIH produced at Felchlin (Switzerland). She is currently coaching the selection of the optimal fermentation pattern for their cacao Carupano Pintao from Sucre State.
ORGANISE CACAO HUNTING TRIPS FOR CRAFT CHOCOLATE MAKERS
Royal Arts ( company behind Green Bean to Bar) is a bean to bar lab and shop from Japan founded in 2015. Chloe has been selecting the cacaos, every harvest, for them in addition to staff training, customer education and product development. In 2018 and 2019 she organised a trip for the CEO, Adachi san, in Bolivia, Peru and Brasil, to hunt for special cacaos. Discover stunning pictures in the book by Takashiro .
They met in Beni - Bolivia, a cacao producer, Abraham, who was different, special from most others met, and Adachi san decided to develop a partnership with him. Green would coach Abraham to improve yield and quality of his cacao, and Abraham would be able to sell his cacao to Green and other clients at a much higher price than he usually does. Chloe has been in charge of the coaching of and assistance to Abraham.