I have been a chocolate LOVER my whole life. So, in 2009, when I heard about the extensive bonded labor, child trafficking and unfair wages taking place in the chocolate industry, I wanted to be part of the solution.
In 2013, I quite literally chose to take an uncharted path – ask me about the boa constrictor, hitch-hiking in the jungle and my hierarchy of bug “responses.” Neither the best business schools (Wharton & Kellogg) nor my corporate experience at the world’s largest winery could have prepared me for this.
When I began with the support of family and friends, our main prayer was to uncover ways the farmers could produce more income. But, Jesus prompted me, “It’s not enough. Give them life, fullness of life in Me.” We’re still not sure exactly what this looks like in practice, but we’re on the journey to find out.
HOW: From Farm-to-Table
I realized that if cocoa farmers were then reputedly making about a quarter of a living wage (more recent estimates are about one-third), then the industry’s aggressive goal of doubling yields would, best case, leave them well below a living wage... They need to earn more from the cacao they’re already growing. The smartest, most powerful people in chocolate seemed resigned to the fact that a living wage was impossible. Call it naiveté, hard-headedness or bold faith – I prayed to the God who makes all things possible (with a few added requests) -
- we don't want to compete with chocolate makers (farmers' current customers)
- we want a solution that works without reliable electricity, running water or advanced national infrastructure.
Ha - no problem, right?
WHAT: Whole, Peeled Cacao Beans
- a nutrient-dense, allergy-friendly, stable superfood with myriad health benefits,
- naturally bite-sized for snacking and doesn’t melt,
- it complements, rather than competes with, chocolate,
- work that can be done in farming communities by women who have historically been underemployed in the cocoa supply chain!
BUT: More Like Dark Chocolate
The typical palate is not quite ready for a plain whole, peeled cacao bean. 100% cocoa only appeals to the tiny but growing minority who enjoy black coffee or tea without any cream or sugar, bold red wines, and whiskey - neat.
For this reason, we lightly caramelize and flavor the whole beans in organic cane sugar to provide the more familiar taste of beloved dark chocolate.
OUR GOAL: Cacao Direct to You
Our goal is to:
- create exquisite, healthy snacks from beginning to end in farming communities, and
- connect these communities directly to their customers (you!)
For this reason, we made the unconventional business decision to stop Seattle-based production in June 2022. Through our nonprofit organization, Cocoa Future Collaborative, we're now actively working in two distinct capacities to achieve our goal:
- Partnering with cacao farmers and cooperatives to build local economies and increase income earning potential from cocoa by up to 5x by making chocolate and many other wonderful cocoa-based products in their own communities.
- Continuing our partnerships with our existing peeled cacao partners to create export-ready finished snacks, including snacking cacao.
Thank you for believing with us that fullness of life, for both farming communities and those of us who enjoy their cacao and chocolate, is indeed possible.
Our story is just beginning. Thank you for being an invaluable part of it.
Kim Wilson, Co-Founder