Skip to content
February 21, 2011 / demarquettechoc

From Cocoa Tree to 3-Star award winning Chocolate – Part II

If you missed the first part of our adventure, click here…

As we walk back through the lush tropical landscape, the sun is high up the sky warming the humid air and we are relieved to be sheltered by the cooling shade of the tall coconut palms. We trace our way back along the little pathways, balancing over fallen palm trunks that act as bridges over irrigation trenches that provide much needed water for the plantations.

Meeting farmer Tuan and his wife

Back at the car we look forward to meeting our next farmer whom, after a further half hour bumpy drive and short trek, we find busy harvesting his cocoa pod laden trees on a small plantation he has owned for over 10 years. Despite the obvious language barriers, he and his wife greet us warmly with huge smiles and immediately offer us the utterly refreshing coconut water from freshly cracked open coconuts.

 Even without the very helpful verbal translation from our interpreter, it is immediately apparent and such a joy to see the pride that is clearly visible in both Tuan and his wife’s expressions as they talk about their work. As we chat about their life, aspirations and the opportunities that have opened up for them by the addition of income generated by the cocoa crop, we are reassured that the type of cooperative model employed here in Ben Tre is truly set up to benefit the welfare of the farmer, as opposed to the shortcomings of other models in areas such as Ghana or the Ivory Coast where despite the drive to offer a fair price to farmers there, there is still proven widespread child slavery and child labour activity. This is one reason of course why we do not source any cocoa and cocoa products (cocoa butter, cocoa powder etc.) which could originate from these countries. Instead we know the exact origins of all our ingredients and work very closely and directly with the farmers and our trusted suppliers to ensure that you can be secure in the knowledge that our products are completely ethical. In order to maintain that promise we even avoid buying any pre-blended cocoas, as in most cases it is impossible to know whether they contain cocoa or cocoa butter that originates from Ghana or the Ivory Coast.

Demarquette visiting Vietnamese cocoa plantation

Tuan's vietnamese cocoa plantation

Back to our journey… Tuan explains and shows us how he tends to his plantation, how he selects which pods are ready for harvesting and we suddenly realise that whilst we have been listening with fascination about his daily routine, he has already filled three large sacks with the most beautiful cocoa pods.

We help carry them back to ‘plantation central’ a small brick building piled high with cocoa pods and surrounded by stilted drying beds which are exposed to the hot tropical sun ready for the next stage in the cocoa pod to chocolate production journey.

In Part III, Marc joins two plantation workers to cut open the cocoa pods to expose perfect cocoa beans surrounded by deliciously juicy pulp. We learn about the fermentation process and discover how the beans are then dried ready for packing up and shipping around the world for the next stage in the journey towards chocolate.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: