Green & Blacks ChocolateOrganic and Fair Trade | 0 Comments
Green & Black’s: From Bean to Bar
Great tasting chocolate begins with the cocoa beans. The specific variety of cocoa and where and how it is grown all impact its flavour. We use only the finest organically grown cocoa, principally of the Trinitario variety, to create our exquisite chocolate products with Green & Black’s trademark distinctiveness. We source the beans principally from the Dominican Republic and Belize. The cocoa is grown using sustainable and biodiverse organic farming methods, thereby helping to support a balanced ecosystem. We believe that organic cocoa beans are purer and taste better because they are grown without chemical fertilsers and pesticides. The word ‘cacao’ is the term used to describe the beans before they have been fermented (it is actually cacao in Spanish!).
The cocoa pods are harvested at their peak of ripeness – not too early and most definitely not too late. The farmers then remove the beans from the pods – there are about 45 cocoa beans in each pod – and cover them with banana leaves for around five days. During this time, the beans ferment and develop their pronounced chocolate flavour. After the cocoa beans are fermented perfectly, they are laid out to dry in the sun. Finally, these cocoa beans are shipped to the factory where they are ready to be transformed into Green & Black’s chocolate.
At Green & Black’s we create great–tasting chocolate, something which we believe using only organic ingredients helps us to achieve.
Green & Black’s has always been an organic brand. The term “organic” when applied to crops, animal rearing and food in general is actually referring to the sustainability of the land so it can continue to provide food without becoming exhausted of nutrients.
We believe organic represents quality as it uses more considered production techniques and avoids the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides and thereby encourages a more natural environment for both people and animals. Organic brings benefits to our food, health and the planet. Organic practices mean that farmers, animals and wildlife don’t come into contact with chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Rivers and soil are less polluted with chemicals and people eat foods that have not been sprayed with chemicals. We also believe that farmers who grow their crops organically are often more interested in, and concentrate on, the quality and taste of what they grow. They are more likely to choose varieties and growing methods that ensure they can successfully grow their crops without the use of chemicals. Our farmers grow their beans under the shade of rainforest trees alongside other crops like avocado, pineapple, coffee and bananas; such biodiversity helps safeguard our cocoa against disease. Organic farming is not open to the genetic modification that is increasingly important in agriculture to maximise yield in favour of taste.
For us, working with so many others on quality helps us realise and share our passion for delectably intense chocolate. From the orchards where we source our cocoa beans to the farms which provide cream for our ice cream, all are regularly visited to ensure they adhere to the strict guidelines which govern organic food production. This means every product we make is certified to the highest organic standards, giving consumers a guarantee of integrity. In the UK, this is the Soil Association.
G&B’s in Belize and Dominican Republic
Green & Black’s has been buying organic cocoa from the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) farmer’s co-operative in Belize since 1994. Our company’s founders, Craig and Jo started this relationship which continues today.
Green & Black’s is a significant buyer of organic beans produced by the TCGA. This allows the farmers to benefit from rises in cocoa prices and ensures they have the security in case the market price falls. We also have a five year rolling contract in place with the TCGA and are investing in their cocoa growing communities. The fair price, long term contract and community investment the TCGA receive from Green & Black’s give them economic security and enable them to plan for the future for their families and community including education for their children.
In 2003, we extended our activities with cocoa farmers and started our Belize Program to provide even more support. We decided to invest a considerable sum of money over three years with the TCGA and this money was kindly matched by a grant from the government (DFID). This investment in cocoa farming communities was used to help improve management and farming practices, rehabilitate hurricane damaged crops, plant more cocoa trees (over 1 million), and train farmers in better growing methods.
Today, Green & Black’s continues to provide technical advice and support the farmers in Belize. As a result the cocoa farmers are able to sell more high quality organic cocoa beans and increase their income.
We also buy organic cocoa beans from the cocoa farmers in the Dominican Republic at a premium considerably above the world market price. We have also invested in fermentation, drying equipment and technical support to help farmers further improve bean quality so they can sell more high quality beans and earn more income
In 1994, we launched Maya Gold, the first UK chocolate product to be awarded the Fairtrade Mark by the Fairtrade Foundation.
Our founders, Jo Fairley and Craig Sams, were on holiday in Belize and while there, they sampled a local drink called Kukuh made with cocoa beans and spices. Kukuh was consumed by the Mayan farmers whose ancestors originally domesticated the cocoa bean. Inspired by the taste of Kukuh and the aroma of the rainforests, Jo and Craig decided to capture both in Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate – a blend of intense dark chocolate with a refreshing twist of orange, perfectly balanced by the warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
At the time, no one realized what an important milestone for Green & Black’s the trip would become. On discovering this, Jo and Craig initiated an agreement with the local farmers, paying them a guaranteed fair price and a premium for their organic cocoa. So from our very first batch of Maya Gold in 1994, and every batch since, the cocoa has been sourced directly from the farmers, giving them a fair price for their crop. Our Maya Gold bar was the first chocolate product in the UK to be awarded the Fairtrade mark.
This long-term arrangement for Green & Black’s to be a significant buyer of organic cocoa beans produced by the TCGA gives economic security to the farmers and allows them to improve their quality of life. It’s given security to the farmers’ families, helping them to improve their quality of life, provide a better education for their families, and offer stability to the local community.
Today we continue to strengthen our link with the cocoa farmers of Belize by supporting their grower’s cooperative, the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA). Our arrangement with the farmers made during that eventful trip made by Craig and Jo many years ago meets the standards set by Fairtrade, allowing our Maya Gold product to be certified by the Fairtrade Foundation. In 2011, all Green & Black’s chocolate products are Fairtrade certified, as we continue to pay a fair price, developing strong relationships with producers and investing in the local infrastructure to improve lives in communities.
How We Make Our Chocolate
We use fine organic ingredients and these are ethically sourced. When our cocoa beans first arrive at the factory, they are checked again for quality to ensure no rogue batches enter the production line. The beans are then roasted to further develop their rich flavour. Then, we grind the beans creating a smooth paste, adding organic Bourbon vanilla and organic sugar. Next, this paste or cocoa mass is ‘conched’ or stirred for 8 hours. 8 hours of stirring is what our cocoa paste requires to bring out the distinct flavour that’s deliciously present in our chocolate.
Before pouring the chocolate mixture into moulds to set, it has to be tempered. Well-tempered chocolate has a lovely shine, with no streaks or ‘bloom’ (the white, cloudy appearance chocolate can sometimes have that’s caused by the cocoa butter separating from the other ingredients). It will also have a good ‘snap’ - the sound a quality chocolate bar makes when you break it.
Pairing brilliance with greatness is how we think of the addition of the fine inclusions – the items we add to the chocolate to create our delicious range of flavours. Of course we use the highest quality inclusions in just the right quantities to ensure flavour perfection. In our Almond Bar for example, we use whole almonds, still in their skins, to intensify their flavour. This process toasts the nut giving it a deeper, nuttier flavour and creates a slightly sweet, crisp shell. Using whole, organic Sicilian almonds means we need to use copious amounts of nuts in each bar to ensure each delicious bite has the right combination of flavours.
Finally, the chocolate is then moulded into bars, cooled, wrapped and ready to enjoy!
The History of Chocolate
• 1500 BC-400 BC – The Olmec Indians in South America are believed to have been the first to grow cacao as a domestic crop.
• 250 to 900 CE – Mayans made a drink from ground cacao beans and chilies mixed into hot water. It was unsweetened, and restricted to the society’s elites.
• 14th Century – Aztecs were introduced to the drink by the Mayans, and it became popular among their royalty who promptly taxed it. They called it “xocalatl,” meaning warm or bitter liquid.
• 1502 – On his fourth voyage to the New World, Columbus encountered cacao beans being used as currency.
• 1519 – Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez didn’t like the cacao drink, but was fascinated by the beans value as currency. He established a plantation in the name of Spain, believing he could “grow” money.
• 1528 – Cortez returns to Spain, and presents King Charles with beans from his plantation. The Spanish mix the bitter beverage with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. This raised demand for the Spanish plantations’ beans. Spain kept chocolate secret for 100 years.
• 1544 – Dominican friars took a group of Mayan nobles to meet with Spain’s Prince Philip. The Mayans brought beaten cocoa, mixed and ready to drink.
• 1585 – First shipment of cocoa beans began arrives in Seville, Spain from Vera Cruz, Mexico.
• 1657 – London’s first chocolate house opened. The shop was called The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll. London’s chocolate houses became the trendy meeting places for the elite.
• 1674 – The first solid chocolate was introduced. It was served in chocolate emporiums in the form of chocolate rolls and cakes.
• 1753 – Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, renamed “cocoa” “theobroma,” Greek for “food of the gods.”
• 1765 – James Watt invented the steam engine and its technology would rapidly be applied to chocolate manufacture.
• 1800 – Antoine Brutus Menier builds the first industrial-size chocolate factory.
• 1819 – The pioneer of Swiss chocolate-making, François Louis Callier, opened the first Swiss chocolate factory.
• 1828 – Conrad Van Houten invents the cocoa press, which helped cut prices and improve the quality of chocolate by squeezing out some of the cocoa butter, giving the beverage a smoother consistency. Van Houten also invented the process of treating cocoa with alkali, giving it the name “Dutching”.
• 1847 – Joseph Fry & Son developed a process of mixing some cocoa butter back into the “Dutched” chocolate. They added sugar, creating a paste that could be molded and hardened. The result was the first modern chocolate bar.
• 1849 – Cadbury Brothers displayed chocolates for eating at an exhibition in Bingley Hall, Birmingham, England.
• 1851 – Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, organized The Exposition in London. This was the first time that Americans encountered bonbons, chocolate creams, hard candies, and caramels. The hard candies were called “boiled sweets.”
• Mid-19th Century – Prime Minister William Gladstone reduced the taxes on cacao beans, making them more attractive to British manufacturers wanting to cater to a large portion of the population.
• 1860 – The first British Food and Drugs Act was passed after investigations by the British journal, the Lancet, whereby it was discovered that numerous food adulteration strategies were practiced by manufacturers including adding brick dust to chocolate powder. 1875 – After eight years of development, Swiss chocolate maker Daniel Peter markets the first milk chocolate.
• 1879 – The almost universal technique of “conching” is developed. This is a process of rolling and heating the chocolate for as much as 72 hours, and has more cocoa butter added to it. This makes the chocolate “fondant,” and it will literally melt in your mouth.
• 1897 – The first known published recipe for chocolate brownies appeared in the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue.
• 1910 – Canadian, Arthur Ganong marketed the first nickel chocolate bar.
• 1913 – A Swiss chocolate maker, Jules Sechaud, develops a machine to fill chocolates.
• 1925 – The New York Cocoa Exchange, opened on October 1, 1925, bringing buyers and sellers together. Most of the transactions do not involve any actual cocoa, as total transactions involve over seven times as much cocoa as actually exists.
• 1991 – Green & Black’s produces the first organic chocolate bar in London, England.
• 1994 – Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate was the first Chocolate product to receive the Fair Trade symbol for meeting the standards set by the Fairtrade Foundation.