My company is the marketing arm for some cocoa farming cooperatives in Nigeria which want to bring their semi-processed cocoa (cake and butter) to the US. The cooperatives are getting certified. In the meanwhile, they are traceable. Our focus is on bringing out the best flavor of the forastero bean.
Our end game is to build a BRAND and get oodles of customers in the US. Our immediate goal is to establish a liaison with a chocolate maker in the Washington, DC area (or wider) to produce limited quantities of chocolate bars from our cake and butter for our sales and marketing purposes.
You do understand that making good or even passable chocolate bars from cocoa powder cake and cocoa butter is very difficult in that by pressing out the cocoa butter you've deconstructed the bean and the chocolate maker then has to try to reconstruct it, right? It's like saying to someone, "Here, I have this apple juice and apple fiber. Can you please make me the most delicious crunchy apple from these?" Doesn't work and is why much of the large scale manufacturers' chocolate tastes nothing like the artisanal chocolates discussed here.
You'd help show the great qualities of your cacao much better if you did a great ferment on it and handed that to an experienced chocolate maker, and then give the finished chocolate back to everyone down the line from the cacao grower, fermenter, to coop buyers, etc. so they can see what effect the changes in their practices has on the finished chocolate and how they can improve it.
my 4¢ (accounting for inflation)
Nat Bletter, PhD
I like your apple analogy, and as someone who is just getting into making chocolate, it is a clear picture of how good a bar of chocolate can be.
I went to your website, and checked it out. I was actually buying molds yesterday and saw the molds you use offered a few places online and thought about buying them, you really should offer to sell the companies your images of done chocolate because they really look great!
Nat: My objective is to allow the farmers themselves to ascend the value chain. Would liquor be a better stage to look for chocolatier cooperation?
Two of the three most important components of making chocolate are 1) fermentation and post harvest care, and 2) roasting and removal of shell.
A properly trained monkey can make a chocolate bar. Case in point: machines do it all day by the millions.
However, the two points I provided above MUST be done by humans who know what they are doing. At the same time the person doing the roasting and refining must understand the taste profiles of the demographics to which you intend to market. I'm guessing that the person roasting the cocoa in Nigeria to press out the butter has absolutely no idea what fine quality chocolate tastes like in the US.
Brad: the roaster's appreciation for fine chocolate is not absolute. The farmers and the roaster are eager to learn what the market wants and how they can respond to that demand.
Your points are important but laced with disdain for those who have been disregarded and denigrated by a century of colonialism that has kept them at the very bottom of the value chain which is where the chocolate companies want them. Quit being a snob.
I will prevail in this endeavor, resolving one obstacle at a time.