donderdag 7 oktober 2021

Agroforestry is an act of resistance and resilience.

 For Costa Rica’s Indigenous Bribri women, agroforestry is an act of resistance and resilience.

In Costa Rica’s Talamanca region, Indigenous Bribri women are championing sustainable agroforestry practices in a tradition that stretches back for millennia.

Known as fincas integrales, it’s a system that mimics the diversity and productivity of the forest: timber trees provide shade for fruit trees, which in turn shelter medicinal plants, amid all of which livestock and even wildlife thrive.

One of the few matrilineal societies in the world, the Bribri women are taking back their leadership after decades of decline and social problems in the community.

Talamanca is also home to vast monoculture plantations of crops like bananas, a completely different farming system that relies on the heavy use of pesticides — a practice that the Bribri women say destroys the land.

Cocoa is sacred to the Bribri, forming the core of many rituals, Campo de Diablo community, Watsi, Talamanca, Costa Rica. Image by Monica Pelliccia for Mongabay.

The Bribri are one of the world’s few matrilineal societies: land is handed down from mother to daughter. Cocoa is at the center of another noteworthy ancestral practice, forming the core of their sacred rituals. “Cocoa represents women in our cosmovision,” López says. “We drink it for marriages when a person dies, when we are pregnant for the first time. Cocoa is purification, it represents our blood.”

Cocoa: Power, memory, and resistance

SOURCE: Monica Pelliccia is an independent multimedia journalist. Follow her work on Twitter via @monicapelliccia.

zaterdag 18 september 2021

We source more than just cacao.

We source more than just cacao.  

We are passionate about cacao and therefore we source specialty cacao with an identity, building meaningful partnerships and connecting amazing cacao producers & passionate chocolate makers.



+32 (0)3 205 97 96

woensdag 1 september 2021

Say hello to our newest family member: ESMERALDAS 50% VEGAN M!LK

 Say hello to our newest family member:

                                            ESMERALDAS 50%
                                                 VEGAN M!LK

Finally we can share big news with you! From TODAY our brand new chocolate "Esmeraldas 50% Vegan M!lk" is available! A vegan m!lk chocolate to take home: incredibly creamy, delicate, climate-positive. It consists of only three natural ingredients: rare Ecuadorian Arriba cacao from our Esmeraldas cloud forest project, Spanish Guara almonds from small organic growers near Alicante, and raw cane sugar from our organic Fairtrade co-op in Paraguay. Best of all: The Esmeraldas 50% is absolutely delicious and offers a vegan alternative to all those who love real milk chocolate.

Whether you're eating more vegan for the sake of the environment, your health, or animals - you have the power to change the world. You decide which chocolate and foods you consume.

On our own we grow a regenerative company. Together we can regenerate what we consume.

Taste the rare and preserve it!

dinsdag 8 juni 2021

Pacha de Cacao, a new super drink made from cocoa pod pulp


Drink of the gods -- Cocoa Pulp?


The transformation of astringent cocoa seeds first into cocoa beans and then into chocolate bars is pretty miraculous.  A large part of the magic is down to fermentation, when the sweet pulp surrounding the cocoa seeds reacts with different bacteria and yeasts in the local environment to transform the bitter, astringent cocoa seeds into cocoa beans that have some distinctly chocolate notes like nutty, caramel, earthy, citrus and woody flavours.

And if you ever have the chance to open and taste a fresh cocoa pod, you will know that the pulp is delicious. Depending on where you are and what cocoa pod you try, the pulp can have flavours that range from mango, lychee, citrus, peach, whey-like or even minerality. Indeed in South America many delicious desserts and drinks (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) are often made from cocoa pulp.

However most cocoa pulp is “wasted”. Some of the pulp is literally left on the jungle floor, and much of it evaporates and drains away during fermentation. 

And this is a shame, for a couple of reasons. Cocoa pulp is full of healthy vitamins and minerals, from magnesium and potassium to manganese and vitamin B1. It also makes up approximately 30% of the weight of a cocoa pod.  Cocoa seeds (which become beans) account for another 20% and the husk and outer shell of the pod is about 50%. The husk or pod skin can be transformed into fuel, fertilizers or even paper.  But the pulp is generally ignored and effectively “wasted”.

Until now. 

With Pacha de Cacao, Marika has worked out a way to “bottle” the pulp for our benefit, and also to turn what was a waste product into another source of income for cocoa farmers.


Marika has had a rich and varied career.  Born in the Netherlands, Marika studied human rights and then moved to Africa to work for various NGOs, including Amnesty International, before spending two years in  Cameroon where she worked to support local prisoners.  Whilst in Cameroon Marika fell into the world of cocoa, initially working on various cocoa sustainability projects before returning to the Netherlands.  And since being back in the Netherlands, Marika has doubled down on cocoa and chocolate, helping to run Chocoa (the annual Dutch chocolate festival set up by Caroline Lubbers and Jack Steijn), setting up her a cocoa bean trading company that works directly with farmers (Gaia Cacao), and setting up Pacha de Cacao.

She describes Pacha de Cacao’s “Eureka” moment as when she was talking to a farmers in Ecuador who she saw “eating the pulp and spitting out the beans".  He explained that savouring “cocoa pulp” gave him “good energy”.  Having seen similar behaviour in Cameroon, she realised that cocoa pulp need not be a “waste product” but could become an intriguing new product and an additional source of income for farmers.

But there is remarkably little (published) research on cocoa pulp.  There is some work on making alcoholic drinks out of cocoa pulp in South America.  But very little has been done to make cocoa pulp into the next “coconut water”.

Marika has therefore spent the last few years developing her own processes and procedures from scratch. She currently works with two farms in Ecuador who remove a significant amount of the pulp before they ferment the cacao.  And Marika works with a local Ecuadorean factory to pasteurise, remove fibres from the pulp, and then freeze it before shipping it to Amsterdam where the pulp is further purified and bottled.

For those interested in cocoa varietals and fermentation, one intriguing side note is that Marika may have – finally -- found a good use of CCN51, a high yielding cocoa clone invented in Ecuador back in the 1970s.  See the blog for more details on why this mass-produced clone, memorably described as having the flavour of “acidic dirt”,  may be improved by Marika’s processes.
PACHA DE CACAO (the name)…

"Pacha comes from the Quechua word for ‘soil’ and ‘earth’ and de cacao is Spanish for ‘of cacao’. Together they stand for ‘world of cacao’. We wanted to create a strong link to Pachamama, the female goddess, Mother Earth, who is an important concept in most of the Latin American cultures. We believe in giving back to Earth, and we do so by using the cacao pulp and preventing from it being wasted"
As Marika said, tastes great, great history --and a great new use of what would otherwise be a waste product.

donderdag 22 april 2021



Deze witte chocolade is verrijkt met fruitig-fris-aromatische limoen en pittig frisse tijmolie. Helemaal voor het komende goede lenteweer en zomer!

Deze verfrissende witte chocola brengt de nodige afwisseling in de zomer. Limoenen hebben een intensieve, maar vooral meet kruidig aroma dan citroenen. Ze zijn sinds de negentiger jaren behoorlijk normaal geworden in de keuken èn als schijfje in drank (Mexicaans bier). Samen met de etherische tijmolie wordt het een extra frisse chocolade. Een frisse kick voor de zonnige maar ook bewolkte dagen – want fris-zuur smaakt blij!

Smaaktonen: lekker fris limoenzuurtje en een fleugje tijm

Een genot voor de zintuigen - gemaakt van uitstekende ingrediënten

Witte chocolade smaakt erg zoet en heeft daarom veel fans. Met deze  chocolade  creëert Georgia een nieuwe combinatie van de gebruikelijke goede kwaliteit, die onder de beste omstandigheden wordt geproduceerd met ingrediënten uit de biologische landbouw. Hoewel de chocolade zoet is, vormt hij een spannend contrast met het zure fruit van de limoen. De snack is een welkome afwisseling, zeker als de temperatuur laag is. De verfijning met tijm geeft het product een interessante noot. Georgia Ramon verfijnt de hoogwaardige witte chocolade met fruitige limoenen en aromatische tijmolie.

Daarbij wordt de nadruk gelegd op duurzame en ecologische landbouw van de gebruikte grondstoffen. De etherische olie uit Iran wordt gemaakt van verse tijm in een stoomdestillatieproces. Als een populaire specerij in de keuken is de tuintijm met een hoog gehalte aan thymol bijzonder aromatisch en geeft hij een opwindende afdronk aan de chocolade zodat deze verder kan worden geperfectioneerd. De chocolade van Georgia Ramon wordt ook gemaakt van cacaoboter uit de Dominicaanse Republiek, ruwe rietsuiker en volle melkpoeder. Het is glutenvrij en bijzonder verfrissend en daarom geschikt voor iedereen die van zoetigheid houdt en van spannende smaakcombinaties houdt.

woensdag 24 maart 2021

Gianduja Chocolate


Gianduja chocolate is one of the most popular confections around the world. Its three basic ingredients, (sugar, cocoa and hazelnuts) have stayed exactly the same throughout time, but international chocolatiers are giving their own creative twist to this classic that now comes in all shapes, forms and recipes.

Gianduja can be enjoyed as a spreadable cream to be slayed on toasted bread, added on top of ice-creams or even eaten with a spoon directly from the jar. If you prefer a solid form, now many chocolate makers are creating bars of pure gianduja, a solid block entirely made out of this soft paste that will fast melt in your hands.

Or you can enjoy gianduja in its most historical form, like a giandujotto: a small soft chocolate in the shape of an upside-down boat individually wrapped. Regarding the ingredients, you will find minimalist recipes that only include 3 ingredients (dairy-free) or richer creations with the inclusion of milk or plant-based milk for extra creaminess, or the addition of whole hazelnuts for extra crunchiness and nutty flavour.

For the fine palates, the most exquisite gianduja chocolate creations are made in craft chocolate kitchens. In New Zealand, craft chocolate maker Hogarth Chocolate won several international awards for his GIANDUIA Dark Hazelnut bar with 45% cocoa and 30% hazelnuts. Then there is the HAZELNUT GIANDUJA (No Dairy) bar by Chocolate Tree in Scotland, which combines Peruvian cacao from the Piura region with fine hazelnuts from Piedmont. In Italy, Aruntam Chocolate makes a DARK GIANDUJA with Piemonte Hazelnuts and 45% fine Arriba Nacional cacao from Ecuador.

Although gianduja is delicious in all its forms and shapes, don’t forget to always read the ingredients list: the hazelnut content should be at least 30%, followed by fine flavor cacao and minimal ingredients to make the nutty and roasted flavor of the hazelnuts shine through.



maandag 1 maart 2021

Soy lecithin in chocolate


Let’s talk about soy lecithin this week.

Soy lecithin is a phospholipid (we could just call it “fat”) derived from soybeans. It’s an industrial waste product extracted from the sludge that is left after the soy oil undergoes a degumming process. This is why soy lecithin is the most common type of lecithin on the market; it’s a byproduct which is easily and inexpensively derived from soybean oil manufacturing (the lion’s share of vegetable oils in North America). Physically, it presents itself in liquid form as a yellow-brownish fatty substance with a fairly thick viscosity.

Soy lecithin is found in way more products than we might think, especially packaged foods. Manufacturers like this additive so much because it serves two convenient purposes:

  • it’s an emulsifier. The goal of an emulsifier is to bind somewhat equal parts of water and oil together, which they ordinarily would never do. That’s why we often see it in creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise, reduced-fat buttery spreads and other foods that have a hefty portion of oil.
  • it’s a surfactant. The goal of a surfactant is to reduce the surface tension of liquids, which allows them to spread out faster and be absorbed quicker. For this reason, soy lecithin is often added to cake and other baking mixes so that water stirs more easily, with fewer stubborn lumps in the batter.

The main purpose of adding soy lecithin to chocolate is to lower its viscosity. This gives a more workable consistency to the chocolate, which becomes easier to temper and to mold. The same result could be achieved by adding cocoa butter, which is unfortunately way more expensive. If you read the ingredients list of a chocolate bar, you will see that soy lecithin (if present) is listed among the very last ingredients. This is because a little lecithin goes a long way. Chocolate makers only need to add a tiny amount to their creations. If 3.0% or 4.0% additional cocoa butter is needed to thin down a coating, only 0.5% of lecithin would be needed to get the same result.

Do you avoid soy lecithin in chocolate or you don’t really mind?

Deze tekst is oorspronkelijk van The High Five Company Dennis van Essen

vrijdag 19 februari 2021

Pairing chocolate and beer.


When we think of pairing chocolate with fine drinks, the first combinations that come to mind are probably chocolate & wine or chocolate & liquors (whisky, rum, tequila). But have you ever tried enjoying chocolate with beer?

It might sound odd at first, but this combination can actually offer a sublime experience, with the yeast and the hop in the beer playing beautifully with the flavors of the fine chocolate. Here are some tips to make the best out of such fun tasting:

  • To get the full flavor of the chocolate, keep the chocolate at room temperature. So, even if it is stored in the fridge, it is necessary to leave it outside for a few minutes. To get the full flavor of the beer, make sure the beer is at the right temperature for its beer style. This will help you to unveil the complete deliciousness of both.
  • It is recommended tasting the beer first before tasting the chocolate. The cleansing nature of the beer is said to enhance the flavor of the chocolate immensely.
  • A simple rule of thumb would be to pair sweet chocolate with the sweet beers and tart chocolate with the tart beers. It is necessary to use the beer which is sweeter or tarter than the chocolate. However, a contrasting flavor done right could be enjoyable as well.
  • For example, stout beers tend to be the easiest to pair with. often due to coffee and chocolate notes in their flavors. A stout beer will pair well with a higher percentage dark chocolate. Bitter ales like IPA’s pair well with a medium body dark chocolate. Avoid bitter chocolates when paring with a bitter beer, as the bitterness will become overwhelming. The high acidity in many white beers does not pair well with chocolate, but if you find white ale that isn’t overly acidic, its crisp refreshing flavor will probably pair well chocolate that has citrus notes.

Now you can have fun playing around with different brands, origins and flavors from your preferred beers and chocolates, and discover your favorite combinations!


zaterdag 16 januari 2021

The cocoa harvest season.


Let’s talk about cocoa harvest season!

Once the flower on the cocoa tree is pollinated, it takes five or six months for the cacao pod to ripen. This period varies depending on the country of cultivation, the climatic conditions and the cacao variety. The harvesting period also depends on the climatic conditions in the country where it is grown. This is why you will hear about different harvest seasons in different countries. Generally, cocoa farmers will start harvesting at the end of the rainy season, until the first few months of the dry season. There are two harvests a year: a main harvest (the biggest one) and a secondary harvest with lower yields.

When harvested, the cacao pods are about 15 to 30 centimeters in length and 300 to 700 grammes in weight and will contain around 30-50 cocoa beans. They take on a wide range of colors, from greenish yellow to a reddish purple. Knowing the right time to harvest the fruits is extremely important and takes a great deal of experience and knowledge, which cocoa farmers develop over time. It is only when the cacao pods are fully ripe that the pulp surrounding the cacao seeds provides enough sugar for optimal post-harvesting processes. This is crucial for the later taste and physical properties of the chocolate. How to know if a cocoa pod is ripe? Not by its color or size, but by the hollow sound it makes when tapped.

During harvesting, the fruits have to be cut from the trunk and branches very carefully with a machete, without cutting off the fruit buds, as they produce new flowers. The cacao pods are collected at special locations in the plantation, where they are carefully opened with the machete to remove the pulp with the undamaged seeds. This mixture of pulp and cacao seeds is then ready for fermentation.


vrijdag 8 januari 2021

Waarom is vanille zo duur?

Vanille is al jaren een populaire smaak. Veel mensen zijn er dol op en het wordt in veel gerechten verwerkt. Maar wat is vanille precies, wat is de geschiedenis en waarom is het tegenwoordig zo duur? Vanille komt van oorsprong uit Mexico. In het Mexico van die tijd gold de regio die nu als Veracruz bekend is als producent van de beste vanille. Tegenwoordig groeit het ook op andere plaatsen, zoals Java, Sri Lanka en Mauritius. Een van de grootste producenten van vanille is Madagaskar. Vanille werd al vroeg gebruikt als smaakmaker.

Verspreiding van vanille over de wereld.

De Spaanse veroveraars brachten vanille naar Europa. Sinds het begin van de negentiende eeuw werd ook in Europa en de bijbehorende koloniën vanille geteeld. Helaas bleken er aan deze planten geen vruchten te ontstaan. De oorzaak was dat de bloemen van de planten niet door de juiste bijen werden bestoven. Later ontdekte men dat de bloemen ook met de hand bestoven konden worden en vanaf dat moment kon ook buiten Mexico vanille worden geteeld en geoogst. Het bekende bedrijf Coca-Cola is de grootste verbruiker van natuurlijke vanille. Coca-Cola stapte halverwege de jaren ’80 tijdelijk over op een synthetische vanillesoort. Dit had direct een groot effect op de economie van Madagaskar. De economie herstelde zich pas nadat de nieuwe soort cola niet meer werd verkocht.

Wat is vanille precies?

De vruchten van de vanilleplant, de vanille-orchidee, zien er als ze nog niet rijp zijn ongeveer zo uit als sperziebonen. Deze peulen worden ook geplukt als ze nog niet rijp zijn. Vervolgens worden ze vochtig verhit en langzaam gedroogd. De onrijpe vrucht verandert door een fermentatieproces in een zwart vanillestokje. Als dit stokje in de lengte wordt doorgesneden kan men hierin kleine zaadjes zien. Dit wordt het merg genoemd. Dit merg is erg aromatisch. Bourbon vanille is een soort van bijzonder goede kwaliteit. 

Waar wordt het in gebruikt?

Vanille(smaak) wordt in heel veel gerechten verwerkt. Het past goed bij zoete gerechten, zoals taart, cake, ijs en banketbakkersroom, maar ook in hartige gerechten zoals een visschotel kan het een heerlijke toevoeging zijn. Het is een heel veelzijdig product en wordt niet alleen verwerkt in eten en drinken. Het is bijvoorbeeld ook een veelgebruikt ingrediënt voor parfums en soms wordt het ook in tabak gestopt. Vanille geldt als een afrodisiacum, een lustopwekkend middel.

Waarom is vanille zo duur?

Vanille is een van de duurste specerijen ter wereld. De bloemen van de orchidee worden tegenwoordig overal ter wereld met de hand bestoven en daarmee bevrucht. Dit is een arbeidsintensief proces. Vervolgens zit tussen het moment van bestuiven en de uiteindelijke verkoop ruim een jaar de tijd. Wanneer de peulen worden geoogst worden ze gedompeld in heet water. Daarna moeten ze een aantal dagen in de zon liggen. ‘s Nachts worden ze gewikkeld in doeken. De vanille gaat hierdoor broeien. Hierna vindt dan weer een selectie plaats. Maar een klein deel is van voldoende kwaliteit om als vanillestokje te worden verkocht. Slechts 10 tot 15 procent komt hiervoor in aanmerking. Je ziet al dat het telen niet over een nacht ijs gaat en een langdurig proces is. Dit zie je natuurlijk terug in de prijs.

nog wat meer over vanille:

donderdag 7 januari 2021

100% cacao chocolate


When it comes to sugar-free chocolate, big manufacturers usually rely on sugar substitutes. To make their products palatable without sugar, they use alternatives with lower calories but higher sweetening power. Sorbitol, maltilol, inulin and xylitol are just a few of the ingredients found in mass-produced sugar-free chocolate. They are cheap, produced in laboratories and easy to source in big quantities. These substances also come with contraindications for the human body, and their taste is not so pleasant.

Mass-produced chocolate definitely can’t satisfy the sugar-free demand without compromising on quality and flavor. Lucky for us, craft makers have a better answer: 100% cacao chocolate.

100% cacao chocolate doesn’t contain sugar. Every ingredient comes from the cacao beans. The percentage is divided between cacao solids (the “brown” part that contains health properties and chocolatey flavor) and cacao butter (the “white” part which is the fatty component of the chocolate). The ratio in a bar is approximately 50/50, but will vary depending on the producer.

It is also a similar product to unsweetened chocolate. The difference is that unsweetened chocolate is meant for cooking and baking. While 100% cacao chocolate is meant for tasting and savoring.

Instead of using chemicals like big manufacturers do, craft makers rely on smarter choices. To satisfy the demand for sugar-free chocolate, they are making their 100% cacao bars:

SMOOTHER: adding cacao butter is the most used strategy to make chocolate creamy and smooth. The percentage of cacao still remains the same, but by tweaking the ratio between cacao solids and cacao butter, makers manage to give a more pleasant texture.
CRUNCHIER: to give it a “twist”, craft makers have started including cacao nibs in their bars. Cacao nibs are bits of roasted cacao beans. This addition doesn’t interfere with the 100% definition, as cacao nibs don’t contain sugar.
MORE FLAVORFUL: depending on the origin and many other factors, chocolate can taste fruity, floral, spicy, earthy, nutty. With 100% cacao chocolate made by craft makers, the flavor is never flat or boring.