Two Wellington chocolatiers are braving rough seas and blistering sun to bring a tonne of Bougainville cocoa beans to New Zealand in a sailboat.
Photo above the sailboat arriving in Buka a few days ago : thanks to Kuri Resort for Photo
Picture below : Tinputz community waiting to load Update : 2.00 pm Boat has arrived
Wellington Chocolate Factory co-owners Gabe Davidson and Rochelle Harrison will arrive back in Wellington in early September after nearly two months away.
Report today from DOMINION POST NZ
Last year a Kickstarter campaign raised $30,000 for them to work with James Rutana, a cocoa grower in Bougainville, between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. After civil war devastated the area, he had almost had to give up his crop.
Now his beans will be added to the Wellington Chocolate Factory’s growing list.
But first the beans will be transported to New Zealand in a Samoan vaka.
Marketing manager Maxine Macaulay said the boat was chosen because it was the most sustainable way to transport the beans.
The chocolate factory, hidden away in Eva St in central Wellington, creates ethically produced organic chocolate.
In the 18 months it has been open, it has grown from making 200 bars a week to 2000.
It already uses Samoan, Dominican and Peru cocoa, or cacao, beans. Bougainville is the latest to join.
Macaulay said most people believed chocolate was the same no matter where the beans came from.
“I didn’t realise until I started working here that there is as much diversity in chocolate as there is with wine or coffee,” she said.
“[Our chocolate bars] are essentially the same ingredients – 70 per cent cocoa, 30 per cent sugar – and then you get this vast array of differences in flavour because of where it comes from.”
She had already tried a sneaky taster of the Bougainville chocolate.
“It’s tasty and interesting. It’s kind of like smoky yoghurt and it’s a lot lighter.”
General manager Miriam Ramos said most chocolate was made from cheap beans from West Africa.
She said having an open factory where people could see the chocolate being made showed them all the work that went into making ethically produced chocolate.
“People are able to come here, see it and learn about it,” she said.
“It’s very important that people realise the work that is involved with any food. Nothing is instant.”
The factory’s small staff do everything from hulling the cocoa beans to hand-wrapping the finished bars.
“We stone grind our chocolate, and we don’t add any dairy, additives or emulsifiers.”
The factory doesn’t just make plain chocolate. Among its flavours are Salted Caramel Brittle, Chilli Lime Nuts and a Coconut Milk Chocolate.
Its latest collaborations are a Great War Bar with the Great War Exhibition at Te Papa to recreate the historic World War II ration chocolate bar, and a Peanut Butter Bar with Fix & Fogg.
To sweeten the success, it won the best small emerging business award at the Mindfood Producer of the Year awards last week.
The Wellington Chocolate Factory bars are sold throughout New Zealand, and in Sydney and Melbourne.
– The Wellingtonian