A few months ago I read a compelling dissertation
by Cristian Melo on the loss of Ecuador's fine flavor cacao and the plight of Ecuador's tens of thousands of small farmers. It inspired to me to act, in some small way, to help small farmers and make delicious chocolate. As well, my fortuitous meeting with Dana Brewster and Mark DelVecchio of Millcreek Cacao Roasters
, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has created the opportunity for a powerful synergy linking Ecuadorian cacao producers directly with Millcreek Cacao Roasters. Taking advantage of my presence in Ecuador and close contact with the cacao trade here, the idea to buy beans directly from farmers and make chocolate with Millcreek Cacao Roasters was born.
I realized immediately we already had a direct trade supply chain for Ecuadorian chocolate all assembled-now we just need to get it operating. Ecuador has long been known as the world's largest producer of fine aroma cacao, which is a superior cacao with distinct flavor attributes not found in your average Hershey's, Mars, or other mass-market chocolate bar. We are working directly with cacao growers in Ecuador to bring this special flavor to you.
Kickstarter.com was my other source of inspiration. After seeing the success of Madre Chocolate's
efforts, I decided we'd do something similar. We've opted for a direct trade model, where we buy cacao from Ecuadorian cacao growers' associations, ship it straight to Millcreek Cacao Roasters, and have it made into chocolate there. We've chosen this model over buying Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, or other "official" certification programs for a number of reasons. We won't get into the reasons here, but if you're really interested, a good place to start is by reading the aforementioned dissertation
. We'll continue to address this issue in other posts soon.
We've established contacts with several growers' associations that produce some of Ecuador's best Nacional cacao beans, and the logistics are all sorted out. We'll be telling the stories of each of the farmers' associations with our bars. Shortly, we'll be presenting our proposal on kickstarter.com for you to look at. In the meanwhile, we'd appreciate it if you'd share this exciting project with your friends and associates. Help us help small farmers and save Ecuadorian heritage cacao while bringing the fine flavors of Ecuador to you!