Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat - Single origin "Bean to Bar" chocolate!
Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat + DAK LAK 70% 80g
De to franskmænd Vincent og Samuel arbejdede i henholdsvis bankverdenen og reklamebranchen, men da de nåede omkring de 40 år var tiden inde til noget nyt!
På en rejse i Vietnam indså de, at her lå mulighederne til noget fantastisk – de bosatte sig og begyndte at eksperiementere med chokolade. Uden kendskab til chokolade overhovedet arbejdede de sammen med lokale producenter på at skabe den bedste chokolade, og efter knap et år var de klar til at præsentere fem varianter på chokolademessen i Paris.
Resten er historie – samtlige chokolader har vundet guldmedaljer!
Chokoladen er udelukkende lavet på Trinitario bønnen – som er den fineste af ædelbønnerne. De forskellige varianter kommer fra forskellige regioner – og smager helt forskelligt!
Chokoladen produceres “From Bean to Bar” lokalt i Vietnam, og hele værditivæksten går dermed til lokalsamfundet. Det er “Fairtrade beyond Fairtrade”.
Emballagen er en historie for sig – den specielle overflade med det matte guldtryk kan ikke skabes på industrielle offset maskiner, og derfor håndtrykkes papiret – og chokoladen håndpakkes naturligvis. En speciel edition for Wallpaper fik stor opmærksomhed og var en anerkendelse af arbejdet med emballagen.
Chokoladen indeholder kakaobønner og rørsukker. Ingen tilsætninger eller soyalechitin, naturligvis!
+ DAK LAK 70%:
En velkrydret mørk chokolade (70%) med jordagtige smagsnoter fra højlandet i Dak Lak provinsen. Fremstillet på single origin Trinotario ædelbønner.
Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat + DAK LAK 70% 80g
Cacao was first introduced in Vietnam by the French in the late 19th century.
It is said that the famous Doctor Alexandre Yersin, a disciple of Pasteur, discoverer of the bubonic plague bacillus and formidable presence in Indochina from the 1890s to his death in Nha Trang in 1943 tried among many other projects to introduce cacao to Vietnam. Let’s just say this might not have been his most successful enterprise.
Indeed, a look at the French administration records in the early 20th century reveals that the French were early quitters in the cacao game: by order of the Lieutenant General of the colony the subsidy paid to the local farmers for growing cacao in 1890 was rescinded on January 24, 1907: “It seems, effectively, useless to encourage this culture which has, until now, not yielded any satisfying result”.
That’s from the same colonial power that imported most of its cocoa from the tiny island of Sao Tome (then a portuguese colony) or from the British Gold Coast (now Ghana), but didn’t develop cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast, which became the world’s biggest producer after gaining independence…
A few trees nevertheless remained in some Mekong Delta provinces, where the fruits were enjoyed fresh or sometimes turned into cocoa but without any significant investment or know how, cocoa remained a marginal product in Indochina.
Act 2 : Cocoa for the USSR
The second act of the Vietnamese cacao story takes place in the bleak hours of the 1980s, when a reunified but defiant Vietnam depended chiefly on the USSR and other Eastern Block countries for its meagre trade. Soviet experts encouraged the plantation of cacao but by the time the trees were planted and growing pods in the early 90s the Berlin Wall had fallen, the Russian buyers had vanished and the farmers had no-one to sell their cocoa to. All but a handful of these trees were felled.
Taking part in cacao’s Renaissance in Vietnam.
In the past 10 years, cacao has benefited from favorable factors:
International trading companies (Cargill, EDF Man, Armajaro, Touton…), NGOs and public development aid (in particular US Aid’s Success Alliance program) have all invested in the development of cacao in Vietnam, supporting the efforts of remarkable academics like Dr Phuoc of the Nong Lam agricultural university.
Many programs are now supporting the effort of small farmers in a number of provinces, and we have met with many people who are passionate about cacao, whose hard work is making Vietnam one of the most exciting new producers of cacao in the world.
Chocolate makers have also shown an interest in Vietnamese cacao beans with renowned makers like Scharffen Berger in the US or Demarquette in the UK making limited edition Vietnam origin chocolates.
Being the first artisan chocolate maker based in Vietnam, and working in close collaboration with farmers, cooperatives and cacao experts, Marou is aiming to make Vietnamese chocolate a widely recognized origin for gourmet chocolate.
Is our chocolate good for the environment? Does chocolate have to be Organic? When is Trade really Fair?
They’re everywhere on chocolate bars, the little logos that say the product is Fair Trade, Organic, Max Havelaar Fair Trade, USDA Organic… And with good reason, let’s not forget that for decades the big chocolate companies closed their eyes on the appalling working conditions in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer.
One of the reasons that pushed us at Marou to develop chocolate making in Vietnam is the realization that while things may not be perfect here, at least Vietnam is a country that has an outstanding track record in terms of sharing the wealth among its still largely rural population. Up to a point, the success story of the Vietnamese economy in the past 20 years is based on a dynamic agricultural base with small farmers being helped and encouraged to successfully develop new crops (coffee, cashew, and of course cocoa in more recent years).
This development has not been without its problems: loss of wildlife habitat, deforestation, soil erosion, depletion of underground water resources… But the small family farm model is on the whole less detrimental to the environment than the industrial plantation model and because people are exposed to the consequences of their actions one acre at a time they also make farmers more aware of their environmental responsibilities.
Because cacao trees like to grow in the shade of larger trees forming a canopy overhead, cacao is ideally suited to growing in areas of reforestation, where biodiversity can be restored, this makes planting cacao more environmentally friendly than similar cash crops that require the clearing of forest.
Unfortunately the small size of farms here makes the case for going organic quite difficult. Given the cost of organic certification it is a huge leap into the unknown for farmers in Vietnam who have to undergo a 3 year transition period and the sickening idea that should aphids invade their trees they would not be able to spray them to protect their harvest. Local farms average less than 1 hectare of cocoa per farm. The only Organic transition project in progress has its (very large) bill paid by a foreign aid agency. We are obviously grateful for what this agency is doing, but once they’re done with the project, will the farmers have the capacity to perpetuate the scheme?
At the end of the day certification is by definition a bureaucratic exercise: a/ set norms, b/put in place standards to verify the norms are being upheld, c/ be able to bury any query under a ton of paper… When you’re dealing with a family on a farm that is just a couple acres, has a few hundred cocoa trees, some other marketable crops, a pond for raising fish, a pig or two and some chickens running around the vegetable patch, the whole thing seems a bit absurd.
So here we are, in Vietnam our chocolate has no fancy Fair Trade or Organic logos to show. But on the other hand it is made by people with a real interest in protecting biodiversity and ensuring that farming families can make a decent living out of their work. On this point I must point out that we buy cacao beans that are fermented and dried by the farmers themselves. This delicate post-harvest work is an important part of the added value from simply growing cocoa trees to being able to sell a high quality bean that is worth more than the bulk market price.
At the end of the day, we know the farmers who sell us cocoa by their first name, we pay them a premium reflecting the extra care given to the post-harvest processing and when we finish weighing the bags, the money goes directly in their pocket with no intermediaries to pay; we are happy to call such trade fair.