WHY WE ADMIRE MAMÁ CACAO CHOCOLATE
Even as Juliet builds her own bean-to-bar chocolate making business, she takes time to support women farmers in her network and teach them to do the same!
Here are a few things we love about her work:
She is taking everything she knows and SHARING it – empowering Costa Rican women farmers to do their own value-added activities including making and selling their own tree-to-bar chocolate!
Beyond chocolate bars, she creates truffles, spiced drinking chocolate, tropical trail mix and even statement jewelry made from pruned cherelles – baby cacao pods.
Her products are 100% Costa Rican Ingredients and 100% organically grown
Her creamy 70% dark chocolate bar is one you’ll want to finish in one sitting.
She's a miracle worker. Like others who make chocolate in origin, she does the impossible task of tempering in 88ºF with 71% humidity.
Shop her bars on Etsy (US sales enabled by Jay, one of the people empowering Juliet - elaborated below). My personal favorite is the oh-so-creamy, 70% Dark Chocolate Bar. Luscious is the only way to describe it. Find and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
Now, in Juliet’s own words…
HOW MAMÁ CACAO CHOCOLATE EMPOWERS WOMEN
Seeking Out Women’s Voices
It started when I struggled to find my own voice faced with machismo attitudes on a cacao farm where I was based in Costa Rica. I was organising a small local chocolate festival during which I wanted to find speakers to talk about the socio-economic impact, history and environmental impact of cacao in Costa Rica. I travelled around the country to connect with other chocolate-makers and farmers. As my mind was already focused on fairness and in light of my own experiences, it was almost impossible not to not notice the women I met within these agricultural communities.
In some communities the men would step forward and introduce themselves and their positions with absolute authority. The women would stand behind and say nothing but when further questioned would tell me they were active farmers who harvested, processed, fermented and dried cacao. Some of these women were more self-assured. Some of these women were naturally entrepreneurial and made cacao candies and wines etc.
When Women Can’t Travel, Bring the Resources to Them
Historically, in Costa Rica, it has been the men who have taken cacao to market, they are the ones who receive the money. Most of the women I have met in agriculture here have less mobility, access to resources, training and education than the men.
I have just started selling bars to the US with a portion of the profit going towards my work with these groups, as well as reforestation projects and the preservation of fine cacao and its traditions and culture.
Plans for Creating Market Connections for Women
My objectives are to form groups where I share my skills to women in farming communities - teaching chocolate-making and how to add value to products that could be considered waste. I aim to bring in people who can teach financial literacy, business skills, computer skills and offer more training to these women. Then use my networks and raise money to showcase the individual stories of these women connecting the buyer to the farmer, to the women, to the humanity of it. Also, raise money to provide these women with resources needed. Finally, I intend to promote and help find markets for their products.
They are empowered because of the connection and support the group offers. Acknowledging that they have skills and sharing them can develop a stronger sense of belonging and contribution. Gaining knowledge, earning their own money, growing in competence and confidence might give them more independence, purchasing power and well being.
HOW JULIET WAS AND IS EMPOWERED
Even before COVID, I have felt very cut-off from support and resources. Especially when on the farm. I can’t just go to town to get packaging for bars, stickers, ingredients that would be easy to find at the market. With everything going on-line, COVID has actually helped me to feel more connected to the chocolate-making community. I feel very alone being the only woman in this area doing what I’m doing.
I’d like to mention a few people in craft chocolate – Jay Holecek (Herb & Culture) has been a massive champion and moral support. He helps distribute our bars in US. Also, when I’m feeling very depleted, Sunita De Tourreil (The Chocolate Garage) is good at giving a boost as well.
Finally, I partner with local friends around efforts for reforestation, carbon sequestration, indigenous communities and plans for a community kitchen to better support women in the farming communities.