We would not be able to make chocolate without the knowledge and dedication of the farmers that grow, harvest and process the cacao. Through sustained direct trade we have built relationships with farmers and cooperatives around the world.
Farm: Bachelor’s Hall Estate, Saint Thomas, Jamaica
Farmer: Desmond Jadusingh
Bean Type: Trinitario
We have been sourcing cocoa from Desmonds farm since December 2015. The land here is fertile, potent, with natural springs and four small rivers running through it. It sits below the Blue Mountains of the St Thomas Parish on the south-eastern end of Jamaica. Once one of the top-producing coconut farms in Jamaica, it has also grown bananas and sugar cane but Desmond has been focussing on cocoa and is currently working to access more and more of the trees that are already growing on his land, but in hard to access areas.
Desmond Jadusingh is a force in the Jamaican cocoa industry. He bought back his grandfathers farm from the government in 2002, and has since campaigned for and won the right to ferment and dry his own beans on site and sell directly to chocolate makers like ourselves. He also helped found the Jamaica Cocoa Farmers Association.
These Jamaican beans have a rich, dark and chocolatey character with fine flavour, heaps of dried fruit jammy-ness and the scent of dark rum.
Farm: Tulloch Estates, St Catherine, Jamaica
Farmer: Roger & Claire Turner
Nestled in the St. Thomas Ye Vale valley of St. Catherine, Jamaica, Tulloch Estates is a 6th generation, family-owned farm run by Roger & Claire Turner.
Utilising eco-kind farming practices for the past 40 years, Tulloch Estates grows an incredibly diverse mix of tropical fruit. This ranges from well-known Caribbean delights like bananas, coconuts and sugarcane, to more exotic varieties like Jackfruit, Rambutan and Longans.
The family has always prioritised sustainability through diversity. Ancient, wooded hills surround this idyllic property a mixture of crops grow alongside two winding rivers at the basin of the valley. The resulting terroir is rich, healthy, and ideal for growing fine grade cocoa. This picturesque and untouched family-run estate is primed to make a mark with some of Jamaica’s finest cocoa produced.
These beans are rich with notes of raisin, toffee and toasted hazelnut.
The Guayas Basin, where the Hacienda Limon Farm is located, is one of the most fertile areas along the Pacific coast. The climate is ecuatorial, there is an abundance of water resources and volcanic soils, rich in minerals and organic matter, making for the perfect cocoa growing conditions.
The 110-hectare farm is managed by eight local workers. It distinguishes itself from other cocoa farms in Ecuador for the old original pure Cacao Nacional Arriba variety grown there. The farm has been awarded Heirloom Cacao Preservation status. This status ensures the protection and preservation of this fine flavour cacao variety, endangered cacoa trees, and the livelihoods and empowerment of the farmers and farming community.
The farm focuses on regenerative and organic farming. The trees at Hacienda Limon are unique in that Samuel von Rutte sourced the genetic stock from the Rockefeller Foundations Genback dating back to the 1950s.
Upon harvest, the beans are pre-dried before fermentation which significantly affects the process and reduces both the acidity and the bitterness. The resulting beans are rich in caramel and nutty flavour.
Farm: Akenssons Organic Estate, Ambanja, Sambirano Valley
Farmer: Bertil Akesson
Bean Type: Forestero and Trinitario (and a separate crop of Heirloom Cacao Preservation Accredited Criollo beans)
Accreditation: Certified Organic – Ecocert and NOP
This 2300 hectare family estate, close to Ambanja in the Sambirano Valley, has produced world-famous aromatic cocoa since 1920. Farmer Bertil Akesson is a pioneer in the bean-to-bar movement as he was one of the first people to start selling Madagascan cocoa beans to small makers around the world, helping to kickstart the craft chocolate movement. Akessons estate also grows vanilla and spices including pepper, which provides shade for the cacao trees.
We buy from two different regions of this large estate – a combination of Forastero and Trinitario from the Bejofo area and as much as we can get of Bertils small crop of Criollo beans, awarded HCP status in 2017. Tasting these two beans side by side is a fascinating exploration of the role of varietal in flavour expression.
The two beans we buy from Bertil share some characteristics; both distinctly fruity, but whereas the Bejofo-originating Forastero/Trinitario beans have a vivacious lime and tropical fruit character, the Criollo beans are lighter in colour but reveal a sweeter, more red berry flavour.
A cooperative characterised by perseverance, patience and creativity. This organisation is a very progressive network of small farms built on the pillars of responsible agricultural practices and gender equality.
One of the key focuses of KSSs strategy is to provide a steady income for the women of the area. Historically, women were often limited to helpers despite doing most of the work on the farm. The introduction of female-led trainings on good agricultural practices and post-harvesting processing has helped increase their self confidence as well the ability to train other female farmers across the farmer groups. Further, women can now join the cooperative, which allows them to sell their cacao directly to KSS and therefore gain full transparency of the income generated.
The husband and wife team Dejan and Caroline at Biji Kakao, have enabled us to access these amazing beans by exporting them out of Bali and shipping them to the UK for us.
These Bali beans have tasting notes of brown sugar, prune and hazelnut.
A 120-year old, single village estate named La Pareja. The farm is named after the cacao producer Don Ramon, who is working to conserve the rare Peruvian white cacao variety, Piura Blanco. For the past ten years Don Ramon has been working on the reforestation of the rare white cacao and is the founder of the local growers association.
Most of the cacao forests in La Pareja have been extended or improved with the genetic material from Don Ramons farm as part of the work done by Sourced by Original Beans, via whom we receive these amazing beans.
The beans from La Pareja have a fresh fruity flavour profile with notes of bright lemon sherbert, blackberries, mellowing to toffee apple and almond.
In 2021 it was our director Joanna Brennans aim to work with a women-run cocoa farm and we found the right fit with the Kekeli cooperative.
A women-run cooperative in Togo, Kekeli was founded by Abra Benczedi in 2019. Abra is the driving force behind the incomparable cacao produced here. She is passionate about producing the highest quality cacao and cares about the environment in which it is grown. The cooperative is independent and is made up of over 100 smallholders who have centralised the post-harvesting of this cacao to ensure both consistency and quality.
Kekeli cacao grows in the vicinity of mount Agou in the south of the Plateaux region. The area is known for its warm tropical climate with an average temperature of 26°C and over 1000 mm of rain per year. Perfect conditions for cacao trees to flourish.
These beans have a distinct yet subtle fruity freshness, hints of macadamia nuts and maple-like sweetness.
We have been buying beans from David Natei’s farm since 2020 via Diana Yates at Cathliro, a local cocoa exporter who specialises in sun dried (smoke free) beans for the craft chocolate market.
The most recent shipment we received was part of a pilot project to look at joint shipment of small lots of bean from multiple producers - more here.
David’s farm is about four hectares and belongs to him, his brother and his mother. The cacao is deep and rich and makes delicious drinking chocolate, among other things. The wet cacao is fermented and dried by Cathliro before being shipped to us.
Farm: Crayfish Bay Organic Estate, Saint Mark, Grenada
Farmer: Kim & Lylette Russell
Bean Type: Mostly Criollo, some Forestero and a small amount of Trinitario
Accreditation: Certified Organic (CERES)
Crayfish Bay faces west overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The land, 13 acres of which is under cocoa, has five natural springs and is steep so has natural drainage. The soil is acidic and has high organic content due to the constant defoliage of the cocoa.
The farm is run by Kim and Lylette Russell as a cooperative: all the workers have rights to harvest other crops on the land and determine how 90% of the profits from the cacao are used. The farmers plant nutmeg and bananas out of cocoa picking season, which gives them an income all year round.
Farmer Kim says “we try to keep the minimum pick to around 500lbs as any less than this does not reach the temperature needed for correct fermentation”. Very careful attention is paid to the fermentation and drying on the farm, including someone watching vigil for rain to cover the drying beans if needed.
These Grenada beans are bright, with a balanced acidity forward fruit, developing vegetal notes and balanced tannins.