An Interdependent Supply Chain

An Interdependent Supply Chain

Hola! to the Maya Mountain Team pictured.  

Theobroma Cacao trees thrive in biodiverse environments, and so do we as human beings! Each cacao bean that arrives to hands of makers is part of an interdependent global supply chain. Follow along with us as cacao makes its way from farm to factory kitchen in ten steps:

Step One

Cacao is cultivated & harvested by smallholder producers Wet cacao is sold to centralized fermentation operation (this could be a community association, a cooperative, a social enterprise, and exporter, etc) and then centrally fermented & dried

*with the exceptions of Itenez cacao from Bolivia and ABOCFA cacao in Ghana, in the case of Ghana due to national regulations that prevent the buying and selling of wet cacao

Step Two

Uncommon Cacao builds relationships with our supply partner via WhatsApp conversations, Zoom meetings, and visits to the countries where they are located and/or trade shows. Sometimes our partner is the centralized fermentation operation, sometimes it is an exporter who works with that operation.

Step Three

Uncommon Cacao and supply partners work together to agree on quality standards and projected tonnage. We strive to build long term relationships with each of our partners along the supply chain and clear communication is a vital piece in these relationships standing the tests of time.

Step Four

The Uncommon Cacao team evaluates pre-shipment samples of cacao beans for each container using both sensory and physical evaluations. This means cuts tests to check for fermentation results and bean size. It also means roasting and grinding batches of cacao for the team to taste as 100% liquor. Sometimes we will evaluate mid-harvest samples before the pre-shipment samples are ready as well. Samples are sent to third-party labs for testing.

Step Five

Uncommon Cacao and our supply partners arrange container shipment logistics based on harvest timing & shipping routes. This requires many professionals along the way to transport metric tons of cacao beans across the globe and navigating complicated export requirements for each and every single origin we partner with.

Step Six

The Uncommon Cacao team then manages all of the logistics for import, drayage (trucking), and warehousing - for each shipment for each harvest from every single origin in three locations; one on each coast of the United States and one in the Netherlands to supply makers with premium and ultra premium cacao in more than 34 countries, across five continents.

Step Seven

The Uncommon Cacao team evaluates landed samples for each container to ensure they match pre-shipment samples. We regularly conduct group tastings to calibrate our results. From these evaluations we create flavor profiles for each of the origins and taste across harvests, noting the slight variations between seasons.  We use our flavor wheel to put taste into words and to consult with customers looking for specific flavor notes.

Step Eight

The Uncommon Cacao team also believes in building lasting relationships with makers and the sales team works to ensure each maker is happy and is supplied with cacao as they need it during their production cycles. Sometimes this means assisting makers when they plan out their inventory for the year and we can help lock in prices for the year with annual purchase agreements.

Step Nine

The Uncommon Cacao logistics & sales teams work together to manage and track the inventory for each lot and container available at each of the three warehouses and we make personal visits to the professional storage facilities throughout the year. Additionally we manage the various deliveries for purchase agreements throughout the year, updating makers on the remaining tonnage and stock for each origin.

Step Ten

Once an order is placed, the logistics team organizes the shipping logistics with the warehouse staff, ensuring a smooth delivery from warehouse to the makers factory kitchen. Finally the Uncommon Cacao sales team provides support to makers as they begin to work with the cacao they receive, answering any questions that come up along the way and facilitating the flow of feedback to our supply partners ensuring the long term relationships we are building to thrive for many years to come.

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