Cacao on the way from Chiapas
Many people have been asking for an update on the progress of our chocolate made from Xoconusco, Chiapas, Mexico cacao grown by farmers in the organic coop CASFA. It's been almost 2 months since the successful completion of our kickstarter campaign thanks to all of you, and we've had our hands immersed in chocolate, been on the phone with farmers in Chiapas, or been doing the fun tasks of filling out endless customs import forms since then, but we wanted to give you an update once we had something to report and an ETA, which we have now!
After making it through the Made in Hawaii Festival where we cranked out over 700 bars of Hawaiian chocolate which were a big hit, we got on the horn with the CASFA coop and the cacao farmers like Don Isidro in Xoconusco to ensure that we could get the highest quality, well fermented cacao to make your chocolate bars. Everyone in Chiapas was very excited to hear that we got the kickstarter funding with all of your help and that we would be helping them buy and build some new equipment like a cacao conch to make world class chocolate there, barrel fermenters to make their cacao fermentation more efficient, and aiding in some of their farmers getting organic certification. Don Isidro was elated when we told him we would be able to help him build a barrel fermenter, and he was hard at work drying all the beans for our shipment.
The good news is that we've finalized all the forms for the cacao shipment, we've sent off the money to Mexico, the cacao should be on a boat to us by the end of this week, and in our hands 12 days later for us to start turning into tasty chocolate bars to send to you! So the wait is nearing an end.
Don Isidro with two of the different Criollo pod types he grows in Huehuetan, Xoconusco
Drying and turning cacao beans in the sun in Plan de Ayalla, Xoconusco
Last weekend we setup a little demo in Honolulu, Hawai'i to show people here all the chocolate, cacao, drinks, and Mexican spices that we've been working with over the last few months. We even had a few prototype bars of the Xoconusco, Rosita de Cacao, and Orijuela chocolate bars that we'll be sending everyone as backer rewards, and everyone loved the taste of these and wanted more. We told them as soon as we sent everyone ot reward chocolate bars, we would definitely start selling these bars in Hawai'i and the mainland. Here's some highlights from this little demo of Mexican chocolate technology:
Dave trying his hand at making a bu'pu foamed chocolate drink by spinning the molinillo in the liquid with panela sugar, cacao, and plumeria flowers.
A collection of many of the rare spices and cacaos that we've collected across Mexico & Guatemala on display in Hawai'i for chocolate enthusiasts.
Clockwise from top center: Jocote fruit, cacao pods, a Hawaiian pineapple, a jaguar cacao pod, cacao calcificado (buried underground to calcify for months), Usilla Oaxaca vanilla beans, cacao beans,orijuela spice (in bowl), mini molinillo, moradita chili, rosita de cacao flowers, piloncillo sugar, mamey/sapayul/pixtle seeds, giant molinillo.
Some of the prototype bars on display, backed by crushed patashte or jaguar cacao seeds ready to be ground into patashte bars for you, and the page from Diana Kennedy's book Oaxaca al Gusto on bu'pu, a constant source of inspiration for us.
The prototype Chiapas bars we had on display (from left to right): Orijuelas, Xoconusco 70% Dark, Rosita de Cacao, and Xoconusco 70% Dark again. These are samples of the bars we'll be sending out as rewards to you once we get enough cacao to make them for everyone.
We hope this update has answered your questions about what we've been up to for the last couple months- nonstop making chocolate and trying to get cacao to make more chocolate! As soon as we have the Xoconusco cacao in hand we'll send out a survey to get your addresses for mailing finished chocolate bars. Until then, happy chocophiling and thanks again for your continued support!