Cacao on the road Podcast: Interview with our founder Emily Stone

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“10 years ago, 15 years ago, chocolate makers wouldn’t say where their cocoa came from… I think you’re doing a disservice to a cacao producer if you’re a chocolate maker and you don’t say where you get your beans from.”

-Greg D’Alesandre, Dandelion Chocolate

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“10 years ago, 15 years ago, chocolate makers wouldn’t say where their cocoa came from… I think you’re doing a disservice to a cacao producer if you’re a chocolate maker and you don’t say where you get your beans from.”

-Greg D’Alesandre, Dandelion Chocolate

Up until just a decade ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find the name of a country of origin on a chocolate bar wrapper. These days? It’s standard practice for anyone starting a chocolate company.

But most small batch chocolate companies are going even further than just country of origin by naming the cooperative, estate, or producer from which their beans were sourced. On their end, many of these producers are now specifically targeting the high-end market. They’re carefully harvesting the ripest pods, fermenting & drying beans with the weather in mind, and storing their cacao in climate-controlled conditions. But even will all of that extra effort, will it be enough to attract buyers?

In this episode, we talk to 4 leaders in the craft chocolate & cacao industry about the slow development of cacao brands. Each of them has worked firsthand with farmers to improve their post-harvest handling of cacao, and has seen the amount of quality cacao on the market soar. Cacao producers began looking for a way to differentiate themselves, and in the process, they began approaching their product just like the chocolate makers do.

To read the article which inspired this episode, click here.

A chocolate bar made from single origin cacao: region specified, but farmers, not so much.

Topics We Cover

  • the definition of cacao brands

  • how instability in the cacao market can affect farmers in the short-term, and how businesses are combating this

  • the role of branding in growing any business in the cacao industry

  • how to start your own cacao brand

  • farmgate vs. export prices, and what that difference means on the farmer level

  • the power dynamics between cocoa producers and chocolate makers, and everyone in between

  • how cacao can take from industries like wine to shift power dynamics and growing techniques in the cacao industry

  • the differences between single origin, cacao brand, and terroir

  • the forces playing against craft chocolate’s success

Show Timeline

0:00-1:50~ Episode introduction

1:50-11:30~ Looking at how chocolate makers can help support the cacao producers they source from with Simran Bindra of Kokoa Kamili

11:30-26:45~ Diving into branding 101 and the why behind Maya Mountain Cacao & Uncommon Cacao with co-founder Emily Stone

26:45-40:40~ Discussing historical & current power dynamics between cocoa producers and chocolate makers, and how we can shift these to build a more equal industry moving forward (Greg D’Alesandre)

40:40-48:40~ Looking at how Vincent Morou & his business partner started Marou chocolate, and how they’ve built up the business alongside a bevy of Vietnamese cacao identities

48:40-52:00~ how cacao brands could play into the future of craft chooclate

Listen to the full interview here:

Maya Mountain Sails to Europe

This week @mayamountain was proud to make history in Belize and be a part of the #missionzero project organized by @chocodelsol. From buying fresh cacao, fermenting, drying, and sorting to organizing the logistics and delivering on-boat our team was there to ensure the highest quality for the long voyage ahead. Sailing cacao across the Atlantic is a win for the environment and a win for consumers who want to support better, more sustainable, game changing chocolate.

Enjoy the beans @zotterschokoladen, @herufekchocolate and @chocodelsol!"

Snapshots from ABOCFA, Ghana

We're excited to be working in a brand new geographical region, and look forward to sharing more about this new partner in months to come! Take a look at some snapshots from our recent trip to this new origin.

Featured is Edward (or “Chicken Soup” as his fellow Board Members call him), the current president of the ABOCFA cooperative. We visited one of his farm plots while he and fellow farmer cooperative members cracked freshly harvested pods. Above is also a group shot of our group visiting the Chief of Apunapono, who gave us permission to visit the area with the ABOCFA cooperative leadership.

Learn more about ABOCFA below

Living the sweet life: JACEK Chocolate Couture continues to spread joy | Sherwood Park News

“Founder of JACEK Chocolate Couture, Jacqueline Jacek said she always wanted to own a business that made people happy and brought joy. That’s not only about delighting the taste buds of chocolate lovers, but also ensuring a healthy ecological sustainable supply chain; supporting cacao farmers and programs that aim to eradicate abusive child labour.”

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“My hope is that we can grow also our Bean-to-Bar line, which is where we make chocolate right from the cacao beans because that’s where we are directly impacting communities where we buy our cocoa beans from and that makes me really proud.”

Read the full article here:

Way to go Jacqueline!

Nat Geo on the History of Chocolate -- cacao has a more interesting story than previously thought.

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Chocolate gets its sweet history rewritten

Long believed to have been domesticated in Central America some 4,000 years ago, cacao has a more interesting story than previously thought.

Check out the full article here:

Confectionary News -- Chocoa 2019: The economics and politics of cocoa

The seventh Chocoa Conference in Amsterdam got straight down to business on the opening day, with discussions ranging from deforestation, child labor and farmer incomes.

“We have been talking about child labor, deforestation, and too low farmgate prices for the last 15 years. It’s time for action and to scale up. We need to do much more”

The Uncommon mission for a more transparent supply chain is being heard, recognized, and met at Chocoa, and by many others across the globe. We were thrilled to participate in this conference and these important discussions that push our industry forward.

Read the full article here:


Uncommon Cacao Heads to Chocoa!

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Our founder, Emily Stone will be presenting at the Chocoa Conference in Amsterdam on 21 and 22 February. The theme of this years Chocoa conference is "Choconomics and Cocoa Politics", and Emily will be speaking about the importance of Transparent Trade and what it means to act as a responsible intermediary. If you are attending, be sure not to miss it!

Check out the Conference programme here:

Check out Chocoa’s bio on emily here:

→ “Emily Stone is the co-founder and CEO of Uncommon Cacao. She has spent the greater part of the last decade deep in the jungles of Central America, creating meaningful market access for thousands of indigenous Maya smallholder farmers through supply chain companies connecting these farmers with premium and craft chocolate makers around the world. Uncommon Cacao, her group of cacao processing, export and sales operations spanning Central America and the U.S., delivers excellent quality cacao through completely transparent business transactions to chocolate makers, while driving meaningful change in cacao growing communities through transparent pricing, targeted technical assistance, and long term partnerships. Emily is the only Ashoka Fellow in the chocolate supply chain so far, and her work has been recognized for impact by Acumen Fund, Agora Partnerships, and Unilever. Emily is a graduate of Georgetown University.” #Chocoa2019

👉 Get your ticket to the Conference here: