From bean to bar: The Bay Area’s chocolate revolution

On the commodity market, there’s no such thing as a high quality cacao bean. All beans are treated as equal, and their price is usually set very low. So the only way most cacao farmers can make more money is by selling more beans, and with the push for increased quantity comes inevitable exploitation.

What’s Fancy Chocolate Made Of That Makes It So Expensive?

Organizations like Uncommon Cacao say they aim to “build a more fair and sustainable specialty cacao supply chain.” Uncommon Cacao issues a yearly transparency report that details the realities of growing cacao in each region and supplies information including annual farmer revenue, flavor notes and prices at each point of sale.

How the rise of gourmet chocolate can lift the fortunes of small farmers

Uncommon Cacao (UC) began in 2010, with a goal of growing high-quality, sustainably produced cocoa bound to export to quality-focused brands overseas. After successfully launching in Belize, UC has expanded to Guatemala. In both countries, UC is revolutionizing local economies by linking small indigenous producers with the specialized cocoa industry.

A cacao tour of southern Belize — from bean to bar

At the end of the winding driveway leading up to the lodge you’ll find Maya Mountain Cacao, or MMC. Owned by American entrepreneur Emily Stone, MMC ( sources premium cacao from local, mostly organic farmers. Once they drop off their bounty, the beans are graded for quality and then fermented, sun-dried on mats and packed in burlap bags for shipping to chocolate makers.

Why Does Your Chocolate Taste So Bad?

The Maya Mountain business, founded five years ago, is made up of a network of 309 farms in the region. MMC buys wet cacao beans from local farmers, ferments and dries the beans, and then sells them, mostly to small-batch chocolate-makers like Dandelion. The premium beans go for $5,600 per metric ton, which is approximately $2,600 more than the current world market price for cacao beans, and Maya Granit, managing director for MMC, says approximately $3,300 of the sale of each metric ton goes directly to the farmer. She believes HCP’s designation put Belizean cacao on the map.