Dear Chocolate Lifers,
I have been wondering what kind of activities are supposed to take place when chocolate makers visit farmers. I know of tours that visit plantations and seems like almost all bean to bar chocolatiers 'work with growers' and come back with smiling pictures.
While it is clear that meeting the growers, learning about their environment and practices and hopefully take actions to improve their standard of living are important, I am curious of the specific cacao processing input that they could recieve from a buyer.
I have recently been surprised to learn about the widespread existence of cacao plantations in my local Colombia, covering about 80% of the countries departments. In some cases there have been newer plantations where illegal crops are replaced with cacao. I visited some members of the Colombian Cacao Federation and they mentioned how tricky it was to change their practices when bulk buyers would purchase anything, at any state for the same price.
I wondered if some of the more experienced members could pitch in:
What has been your experience when visiting plantations for the first time?
How open were the growers to receive input from you? How easy is it to identify the varieties and the quality of their cacao production while in the visit?
How do chocolate makers learn the best practices for post-crop treatment of the beans? In the case of fermentation, is it possible to transmit a proper way of doing it as it relates to their local conditions?
Any input is appreciated, as always.
All the best,
updated by @felipe-jaramillo-f: 05/14/15 04:10:48AM