Please see my reply to Lars above .It would be a good idea to check with us prior to posting this kind of statement. Many of our friends have been here in Newark processing cocoa beans with us. You may meet with Jenny samaniego which is our Managing director and is visiting her parents in Quito presently until January 2012. just email her at Jenny@vintageplantations.com. She will be happy to meet with you and show pictures of the cocoa beans we bought from the farmer 4 days ago. they are presently being shipped to our collection point for further shipping to the USA.
Wishing you a great year 2012.
Pierrick Chouard and Allan Suarez
Vintage Plantation Chocolate
Thanks for the update Pierrick. Correct me if I´m mistaken, but Ecuacocoa was processing your product for you at one time, is that not correct? I have no information on who or how you source your beans, but I do recall seeing your packaging on the factory floor in bulk on a factory tour at Ecuacocoa over two years ago. I can understand if you have changed processors or are doing it yourself.
On your web site it states at http://www.vintageplantations.com/store/our-mission/our-factory.html:
"Once our beans are collected, we follow a very specific procedure (tailored to each batch) for one week to transform our cocoa beans into 66 lbs. of chocolate blocks. This is the easiest way to store and move cocoa around in a very hot and humid country (we learned our lesson from trying to complete our process and package the products in Ecuador, only to see that we had melted and bloomed most of our production during truck movements from place to another). Hence, these blocks are sealed and brought to our premises in the USA for further processing and packaging."
So do you have the bulk chocolate made into bars in the US, or are you shipping liquor out of Ecuador, or bulk chocolate? It would be nice to have a clarification.
Just want to get the facts straight. Happy New Year!
We tried three different kind of partnerships in Ecuador at the beginning ( late 90's). At the time, no one was making high quality dark chocolate in Ecuador. (Tulicorp was just cleaning their first second hand conch , and we also did some sample run with them) we wanted to leave as much money as possible in Ecuador and make the first farmer's chocolate right there. We were proud of doing everything in country., Ecuacocoa was only making liquor then , Republica de cacao did not exist , kallari was busy grafting and expanding their replication center.( which we visited at the inception of the project: impressive) , and we wanted to make the chocolate in Ecuador . Ecuacocoa agreed to work with us and transform our cocoa beans into liquor, then chocolate at the conditon we would provide the missing equipment. The first batches made us realize; the machines were not conducive to reach the flavor profile we wanted , and we had heat and blooming issues,( due to the constant humidity ) later compounded by a product recall for traces of milk in a chocolate. So the trial was not conclusive . You probably visited Ecuacocoa at that time. and you stand correct for having seen the initial phase. Being the Pioneer, we had to explore all possible avenues in country, This took time, missteps and personal frictions. We learned from our errors and concluded we had to redesign in house the bean to chocolate process according to flavors and not volume or speed. This is what we do presently in our mini plant in the USA . We kept working with our Ecuadorian farmers, and the commodity chain,( printers etc), we developed more than a decade ago. I hope this clarify all rumors and misconceptions about Vintage Plantations: You post could mislead chocolate connoisseurs into thinking we are presently making chocolate in Ecuador, and that's what we are trying to correct.
Thanks for the clarification PIerrick! Yes, I can understand the milk recall. I know most processors aren't willing to go through the thorough cleaning the production line needs to get a "pure" product, since it involves shutting it down and the related costs.