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I am wondering if any of you can shed some light on this new company:

I recently purchased a few bars to taste and consider using at chocolate tastings that we host and I am unable to determine basic things about the bars, like where they are made?! Very surprisingly this information is nowhere to be found on their packaging.

I am hoping some of you might be able to shed some light on this company, their tree planting feature, who the people behind the company are... anything!


Sunita de Tourreil
co-Founder Chocolate Dividends

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Comment by Philipp Kauffmann on February 17, 2010 at 8:10am
Thanks, Sunita, for these helpful suggestions. All best, Philipp
Comment by Sunita de Tourreil on February 17, 2010 at 1:55am
Hi Phillip,

I hope to clarify with a couple of points:

1. Original Beans is the only bar I have seen that does not specify on the package where the chocolate is made. The Original Beans website does not help clarify origin of manufacture either.

2. You wrote below: "On our website, we provide clear information on 3rd party certification and direct purchase/traceability, we offer detailed location maps and series of photos documenting our work."

Can you clarify for the three bars made by Original Beans what certification they carry? The only third party/independent certification that I am aware of for your product is the packaging:

-FSC certified recycled paper
-100% Recycled Paperboard

Could you please post the link to your website where there is clear information on 3rd party certification and direct purchase/traceabilty?

3. In the interest of increased transparency here are a few of my suggestions for improvement on your website, I am not sure all are possible:

A. Specify on your website that Original Beans chocolate is made in Switzerland in partnership with Felchlin.
B. Clarify for each bar any certifications the beans carry.
C. Cross reference tree planting efforts with the partner organisations with whom you work. Perhaps you could add a section called "Partners" and list your partners and describe the relationship you have with them.

Thank you for being open to suggestions for improvement.
Comment by Mark J Sciscenti on February 14, 2010 at 2:29pm
Hi Philipp, I also give professional chocolate tastings along with my lectures on the history of chocolate. Would you be willing to offer a sample of the Peruvian for me? I've been following with my taste buds OB's chocolate since the first release, through Lesal. Let me know. My next tasting is in early March. You can contact me through my website or direct. or Thanks for the great information... -Mark
Comment by Philipp Kauffmann on February 14, 2010 at 9:08am
Hi Sunita. I am grateful for your feedback, yet remain a bit perplexed by your review.
On our website, we provide clear information on 3rd party certification and direct purchase/traceability, we offer detailed location maps and series of photos documenting our work. If you read our CV's, they combine more than 20 years of hands-on experience in conservation and small producer development. Together, we have worked in almost all tropical countries of LA and Africa. This experience and track-record has allowed us to raise money and start cacao work from zero in one of the most difficult places in the world, Eastern Congo, and to build infrastructure for 10K farmers, i.e. about 70K people. Last year, we worked with Wheels for Life Foundation to sponsor bikes to DRC. Again, all this information is on our website, though I admit we can improve presenting it and we appreciate your feedback in this regard.
On Peru: We have been involved in Peruvian smallholder development for a decade now and have helped to found and finance APP Cacao. You may have heard that we are selling an exceptional Peruvian criollo coverture, linked to the conservation of a rare, and nearly extinct variety. If you like to present it someday in one of your tastings, we’d be happy to send you a sample.
Comment by Sunita de Tourreil on February 12, 2010 at 6:49pm
Thank you Mark and Olorin, for your comments and help! I am so thrilled to be a member of TCL. Thank you Clay.

And, thank you Philipp, for taking the time to respond. Below are some of my thoughts as someone who is also very concerned about cacao, ethical labour practices, the rain forests and transparency. Oh, and last but not least, great chocolate of course!

I am pleased to hear that you feel so strongly about transparency, rainforest conservation and sustainability. In the spirit of transparency I believe it would set a great example to have more of this information (that you shared here in this blog post) on the Original Beans website. I think that having complete and detailed information available for those who are interested would really help further your goals and mission.

Omission of relevant information, for example, where the chocolate is made and who makes it, in this case, only serves to make other claims seem less genuine. Felchlin makes excellent chocolate, I would think that being associated with them would be something to really celebrate. I experienced Felchlin's Cru Sauvage a few years back, everything from the packaging, the delicate feather design on the bar and the lovely temper and flavour left nothing to be ashamed of.

For what it is worth, when I first came across Original Beans (via your website and the bars) I was very reluctant to use Original Beans at our Chocolate Dividends tastings. Since we feature and promote chocolate that is made in a responsible manner, we are not comfortable featuring chocolate that has not been "vetted", either through independent third party certification (with all of the inadequacies of this system), industry knowledge/experience or through direct meetings with the producers and/or farmers. I share this because it would be a shame for other customers with similar values to shy away from Original Beans because of what seems like a lack of transparency.

Wishing you the best of luck. It sounds like you are working on relationships with more small producers of rare beans: when might we get to savour the Peruvian single origin next? ;)
Comment by ChocoFiles on February 12, 2010 at 4:49pm
+1. Philipp, thanks for explaining about Lesal.
Comment by Mark J Sciscenti on February 12, 2010 at 1:38pm
Thanks for the clarification Philipp.
Comment by Philipp Kauffmann on February 12, 2010 at 11:29am
Comment by Philipp Kauffmann on February 12, 2010 at 11:05am
Lesal is one of the shareholders of Original Beans, but no longer one of the company's managers. She is listed on our site as a co-founder. The team who developed the formulations consisted of Sepp, Lesal and myself. It was intense work and a great adventure to make the first Congo bar.
Comment by Mark J Sciscenti on February 12, 2010 at 10:19am
Hi Olorin, I spoke and emailed with Lesal several times last fall. She told me that while she is still listed as part of the company and has not given up her status, she is no longer involved with the company on a working basis. I do not know any other details besides that and her status may have changed. An update would be good. Please let me know. Thanks.

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