Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sacha by Kallari: Great Story, Great Chocolate

Cacao from the Kallari Association
We're excited to have a cacao farmer hosting Thursday night's free chocolate happy hour from 5-9pm. Felipe, a cacao farmer from the Kallari Association in Ecuador, will be here to sample Kallari's new line of Sacha chocolate and answer questions about life on a cacao farm. In anticipation of tonight's event I thought I'd share the Kallari Association's unique story.

What's so special about chocolate from the Kallari Association? The farmers who grow the cacao also make the chocolate. While this may not seem revolutionary, it's rare for cacao farmers to make chocolate. By shepherding the cacao from tree to bean to bar, these cacao farmers earn 4x what they would earn from selling their beans to a broker who would then sell them to a large chocolate company and make more money than the farmers.

While earning more money is certainly a boon to these farmers, there are other benefits that come from maintaining control of the final product. One important factor is quality and taste. As the farmers learn about consumer appreciation for fine chocolate and begin to see the profit potential of fine flavor cacao varietals, they have incentive to produce better quality. They understand the importance of focusing on heirloom varietals and proper fermentation. It encourages them to continually improve farming techniques and chocolate production.

For Thursday's happy hour we'll be tasting a new line of chocolate called Sacha. While Kallari farmers have been selling chocolate bars made with their cacao using a proprietary recipe for some time, they've been contracting out the chocolate making to a vendor in Ecuador. Sacha marks the first time that the Association itself is making chocolate. While Sacha uses the same recipe as Kallari chocolate, it is made in smaller batches using artisan techniques. This new process has brought improved texture and more complex flavor notes to the final product.

A little bit more about the people of Kallari. The Kallari Association is made up of indigenous Kichwa farmers and their families who live in the Upper Napo River Basin in the Ecuadorian rainforest. In addition to cacao, Kallari youth sell handicrafts, encouraging them to practice traditional harvesting, drying, weaving and carving techniques. These handicrafts have generated more income for Kallari families than any agricultural crop. Started in 1997 with fewer than 50 families, the Kallari Association now counts 850 farmer families among its membership.

Stop by any time between 5 and 9 Thursday night to meet Felipe and to sample tastes of three Sacha bars. We'll be trying the Sacha 85%, Sacha 75% and Sacha 71% with Ginger bars.

Happy chocolate tasting,
Chief Chocophile


Sunita said...

very cool. Kallari is going to be coming to The Chocolate Garage later in May to do a demo... partnering with a group in Palo Alto to host it here. :)

Discover a world of chocolate said...
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Discover a world of chocolate said...

@Sunita- I'm glad you are getting some time with them as well. We always love meeting with chocolate makers. It is a great way to spread the word about great chocolate.-Emily