I was the first chocolate maker to visit Chililique but I doubt I will be the last.
This trip gave me valuable insights, i was able to glimpse how the land is being managed & what the eco system is like. Non-plantation style farming like they have in Chililique is incredibly positive for the environment, it means small plots of land are bursting with biodiversity.
I now know who the main people involved are at Chililique and what the social and economical impact of cacao is, it’s positive. The farm gate price is $3.20 per wet kg for the cacao (NY price currently $1.90 for dry cacao). Cacao farming for an export market involves less physical labour and gives a much better premium than fruits, rice or coffee. The people are lovely, and I will try to organise some small chocolate machinery for them and training on my next visit. Their work is at least as important as mine in bringing you a good chocolate.
That is a basic summary of some positive things that this sourcing trip provided. I’ve kept it simple because in a consumer culture we are overwhelmed constantly by marketing.
Perhaps I could have stayed at home and asked the coop to send me some pictures and info, then jazzed it up to look good. I could even just buy a chocolate from Valrhona or Callebaut and rewrite their marketing and make it my own. But where’s the fun in that?!