I hope these last few days of 2023 are finding you well. I have been enjoying a restful holiday visit with family and especially enjoying quiet moments with my morning cup of cacao to reflect on all the challenges and triumphs we’ve faced this year. My last week’s favorites have been Connected Colombia and Oaxacan Spice.
As 2023 closes out, we’re also getting very excited about 2024, so of course, I wanted to share with you what we are dreaming in!
We will be growing the Ora Cacao family with the addition of at least two new pure cacaos. Uplifting Uganda will be the first - this cacao is from the Semulki Forest cooperative that truly puts women first, with over 50% of the farms run by women. We’re so excited to share this delicious and impactful cacao with you. We are encountering challenges sourcing enough cacao in Central America, primarily due to two years of less-than-average rainfall reducing the cacao harvest volume from the entire region. As such, some of our cacaos from those locations will be available on a more limited edition basis until the next harvest arrives.
As a team, we’ll be logging many hours on cacao farms, both with our existing suppliers and scouting new origins. There are exciting things happening in the chocolate industry this year, with some of the highest commodity prices in decades raising farmer incomes (especially in Africa). We’ll be following opportunities to help implement and advance the new Regenerative Organic Certification that brings more formal aspects to many of the best practices we already implement in our sourcing. We’re also excited to begin identifying areas of need that our Cacao Farmers Insurance Fund can support.
Back at the chocolate factory, the first few months of 2024 we’ll be teaching our first cohort of students in the ceremony facilitator training, which we are thrilled to welcome so many of you in.
There is still a little over a week to sign up in case you are feeling called! We’ll also be teaching a second cohort later in the year. As we run those courses, we are going to keep steady with our weekly online Tuesday cacao ceremonies and our Cacao Foundations 101 course that has provided a start with cacao for so many of you.
In 2024 we are also going to start shipping cacao from a location in Canada to better service our cacao community in Canada, and we’re looking into a similar solution for Europe starting this summer. This should significantly decrease shipping times and costs for our international friends!
As you may know, two years ago we relocated and completely rebuilt and upgraded our chocolate factory. That project is almost complete! We are looking forward to celebrating with a big party at the chocolate factory once we wrap up a little bit more construction. We’re even thinking that we may begin offering regular chocolate factory tours to share the magic of chocolate-making with you on location!
This is a very abbreviated list; I could easily go on three times as long. Thanks for your ongoing support and excitement about cacao!
I hope that you, too, find a quiet moment to dream about 2024. May it be an uplifting year for all of us!