Meet the farmer: Our Guadalcanal cocoa farmers are based along the North coast of the island, not too far from the historical Henderson airport. As education is mandatory on all the islands we buy from, after school, all the children are seen playing around the fermentation boxes and cocoa boxes. Our main farmer has four sisters and a wife that help maintain the farm. Each playing a part in the cocoa production – from finance to fermenting - which means it’s a family discussion when our Chocolate Makers goes out there to meet them and check the crops.
The fermenting of our cocoa beans takes place just 50 metres from the main houses and with the smell of acetic acid (vinegar) aroma that occurs during fermenting of cocoa being present during harvest season. Due to the showery squalls that dash in from the South Seas, our farmers are invested in solar drying enclosures in the form of raised drying beds that can be quickly covered with canvas after the 50-metre dash! This form of drying and not fire-drying - allows the true flavours inherent in the cocoa bean to come through without smokiness being a flavour note.
Discover the Island: The island of Guadalcanal, nestled in the heart of the Solomon Islands, is home to some of the finest cocoa from this region. Honiara is the Capital of the Solomon Islands and main port for all exports, including cocoa, coconut, and tuna. The cocoa trees grow in this rich volcanic soil, protected from the midday sun beneath high coconut palms.
Papua New Guinea.
Our farmers are the Goodyear and Middleton families, based on the gentle, fertile slopes of the volcano. They are both some of the main employers on the island, with farm hands having been there for generations and whole families choosing to work there due to the fair conditions.
Our cocoa comes from KarKar island, which sits off the Northeast coast of Papua New Guinea. As you arrive to KarKar Island by boat, the vista is a visually accurate representation of what you’d expect to see of a 40-mile-across volcano rising up from the sea! It’s mammoth! There is no plane service so the only way on and off the island is on the cocoa boat, which takes 6 hours and includes the weekly school commute and any hospital trips required… The boat is powered by coconut, to show how every part of one of the island’s main crop is used to aplomb. The island itself is inhabited by hundreds of different species of orchids which is a stunning sight, as are the millions of fruit bats which dine on the plethora of fruit produced - but not cocoa, thankfully. There are no monkeys on the island and instead, the tree kangaroo took over as resident of the rainforest trees of Papua New Guinea.