We’re really stoked about the fresh batch we just made of Thriving Tanzania.
It’s creamy and almost tastes like it has hints of milk chocolate! But, of course, it doesn’t have milk since we only make 100% cacao. We just love that the Tanzanian cacao has notes of this naturally.
Each of our ceremonial cacaos has a special place in our heart because of their stories and how they came to be a part of our offerings; Thriving Tanzania is no exception, especially being our first African cacao.
The Journey to Tanzania
In the beginning, we were actually quite hesitant to offer cacao from Africa. Sourcing from there was a big concern since we’d heard such awful stories about the exploitation of the earth, cacao, and people, all of which goes completely against our mission. However, Jonas couldn’t ignore the insistence of the cacao from Tanzania to work with it, and when he made a test batch, he immediately knew it was good medicine and that he had to inquire further. So, Jonas and his younger brother set off on a long journey halfway around the world to see things for themselves at Kokoa Kamili, our partners in Tanzania.
Over 24 hours of flying later, they landed in the capital of Dar es Salaam, which is just a few degrees south of the equator. They met with Brian and Simran, founders of Kokoa Kamili, and the next day departed for another 13 hours drive to get to the Kilombero Valley. Fortunately, they split that drive into two days and stopped for a safari along the way because the journey happened to pass through a National Park.
Much of the second day was on bumpy dirt roads, so Jonas & his brother were very happy to arrive in the Kilombero Valley, and were greeted by a big sign saying “Karibu,” which means welcome in Swahili.
The Kilombero Valley is one of the driest locations we’ve experienced cacao growing, but cacao thrives there because of a high water table that is fed by protected forest reserves in the nearby mountains (where wild elephants live!) The relatively hot and dry climate also greatly facilitates the fermentation and drying steps of the post-harvest processing, which typically contend with challenging humid conditions. This produces very unique and delicious cacao that we love as a 100% pure cacao.
Cacao is not a major crop in Tanzania, you find little to no cacao that is grown on plantations. Rather, it is grown by smallholder farmers who mostly grow other things like bananas and rice. Specialty cacao is a much more beneficial crop for them because the commodity agricultural markets tend to be very cutthroat and hierarchical.
The farmers in the Kilombero Valley are joyful and have a strong connection to the cacao they grow and tend to as it was introduced to those lands in the 1880s. Generations have been growing cacao and in organic and sustainable ways by default.
Our many conversations during our week-long visit there made it very clear that choosing to source our ceremonial cacao from Kokoa Kamili would send a compelling message. The quality was without question. With West Africa having such a long history regarding the exploitation of cacao, finding a ceremonial grade cacao source in Eastern Africa would be a small step in the right direction to healing that relationship and pioneering a different model.
Africa's Dark Cacao History
70% of the world’s cacao is farmed in West Africa, and within this system, there are still many cases of child labor and slavery to be found. Sadly, this is a vicious cycle that cannot come to an end until the cacao industry collectively shifts how they operate their businesses. It’s not that the large chocolate corporations don’t have money to pay the workers fairly and put an end to child labor; it’s that they don’t want to, as it would mean bringing an end to the very system that generates profit for them.
Slavery and child labor are exploitation of people, which in turn is an exploitation of the earth. It’s only when farmers are under tremendous pressure to produce cacao regardless of quality at low prices for large corporations, that conditions like slavery and child labor arise out of desperation.
Yet, when prices for cacao are paid more than fairly (most cocoa farmers in Africa earn less than $1 per day), and the right conditions are put in place for sustainable farming, the issues of unjust labor can be resolved, and we can build a new way. In the regenerative cacao ecosystems that we work with (such as in Tanzania), we’re not exploiting the earth, and hand in hand slavery and child labor are equally not present. Traceability and accountability with our partners ensure that this sacred medicine is being produced with not just respect for the earth, but with respect for the people as they are inextricably connected.
This is why sourcing from Tanzania, for us, is such a huge step in being a part of the necessary change, so much so that later in the year, we will be introducing a second origin from the lands of Africa.
To you, we say “Asante,” which is Swahili, for thank you. We are so grateful that our community loves this cacao, and we hope you have a better idea of the incredible impact you’re having in inviting this cacao origin into your life.
Jonas & The Ora Cacao Family
Pictured above: Jonas taking a look at the healthy and thriving cacao trees, and Jonas & his brother, joyful to be on location!
P.S: Now that we have Thriving Tanzania back in stock that means Tantric Rose Blossom Cacao is just about ready too!
🌹 Pre-Orders for Tantric Rose Blossom Enhanced Cacao are now open
From our cacao community member @amayalma
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