Our Cocoa Beans

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Our Cocoa Beans

It all starts with the beans. We’ve built Theo around the belief that cocoa beans are more than an ingredient. Our beans and the lives theytouch are at the heart of our business. Each and every one of our cocoa beans is organic, Fair Trade and Fair For Life purchased. That means they are grown sustainably in ways that promote biodiversity and positively impact the lives of the farmers we buy from. And by committing to paying significant quality premiums above market price we ensure that we get the best beans available, all the time.

 

We work with our farmer groups and grower cooperatives throughout the world, to help their businesses grow and succeed. In the field we provide technical assistance and share our knowledge around great chocolate making and the cocoa industry. Our beans come primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, and Panama. We are always looking for new interesting beans and cocoa partners that share our commitments to quality, environmental sustainability, and ethical business practices. To learn about our sourcing and our cocoa bean pricing specifications, click here.

 

It all starts with the beans. We’ve built Theo around the belief that cocoa beans are more than an ingredient. Our beans and the lives they touch are at the heart of our business. Each and every one of our cocoa beans is organic, Fair Trade and Fair For Life purchased. That means they are grown sustainably in ways that promote biodiversity and positively impact the lives of the farmers we buy from. And by committing to paying significant quality premiums above market price we ensure that we get the best beans available, all the time.

 

We work with our farmer groups and grower cooperatives throughout the world, to help their businesses grow and succeed. In the field we provide technical assistance and share our knowledge around great chocolate making and the cocoa industry. Our beans come primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Ecuador. We are always looking for new interesting beans and cocoa partners that share our commitments to quality, environmental sustainability, and ethical business practices. To learn about our sourcing and our cocoa bean pricing specifications, click here.

 

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Norandino

SUPPLIER NAME: Norandino

LOCATION: Chulucanas, Piura, Peru

# OF FARMERS: 500

AVG. FARM SIZE: 1-2 hectares

CERTIFICATIONS: Organic (NOP and EU), FLO

SUPPLIER NAME: Norandino

LOCATION: Chulucanas, Piura, Peru

# OF FARMERS: 500

AVG. FARM SIZE: 1-2 hectares

CERTIFICATIONS: Organic (NOP and EU), FLO

 

In 2006, Norandino began marketing cacao, and exported 32 MT on behalf of local farmer members. Today the cooperative works with around 500 hundred farmers in the Piura and Amazonas regions of Peru.

 

The farmer members today recognize that they can only successfully serve the market of customers willing to pay premiums for high quality products through good organization and with continuous improvement in quality. This attention to the quality demands of the consuming market is the key element of the Theo-Norandino relationship, and we work together to ensure the quality of the product is maintained.

 

In 2010, Theo and Norandino identified the Chulucanas region outside of Piura as an area of great potential for our partnership based on the high level of commitment of farmers and the great quality of cacao on local farms. The farmers there are organized into small regional groups of 30-40 members that have each centralized fermenting and drying as a group, thereby adding value to the overall community.

 

The other key component to the Theo-Norandino relationship is our mutual agreement to conducting business transparently. By working transparently we can ensure that everyone along the entire supply chain is cared for and appropriately valued. Norandino makes sure that its producers understand the world market and the way in which their product fits into the international cocoa supply chain. This education is uncommon in many cocoa producing regions and is extremely valuable for our farmer partners. When cocoa farmers understand how cocoa is graded and purchased globally, it’s an important step towards their knowing exactly what they need to do to create higher quality products, with greater market value, that will ultimately deliver greater returns on their hard work and dedication to the land they steward.

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Esco Kivu

SUPPLIER NAME: ESCO KIVU

LOCATION: Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo

# OF FARMERS: 1,400

AVG. FARM SIZE: 1-2 Hectares

CERTIFICATIONS: Organic (NOP and EU), IMO Fair For Life

 

SUPPLIER NAME: ESCO KIVU

LOCATION: Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo

# OF FARMERS: 1,400

AVG. FARM SIZE: 1-2 Hectares

CERTIFICATIONS: Organic (NOP and EU), IMO Fair For Life

 

Originally established in 1970 in DR Congo, Esco Kivu is a private company responsible for fostering the planting of cocoa by smallholder farmers in Eastern Congo in 2000. Since then, Esco Kivu has promoted cocoa production through provision of planting materials, farmer training, and direct purchasing from farmers through village stores and collection centers.


In partnership with Theo Chocolate, Esco Kivu trains organic farmers in the remote Watalinga area to improve the quality of fermentation techniques. Through meeting rigorous sustainability standards and good agricultural practices, over 1,400 farmers are now certified Organic and Fair for Life and benefiting from certification premiums. Though Watalinga remains at constant risk for attack, Esco Kivu is committed to giving direct support to farmers. Esco Kivu believes that sustainable cocoa production will help stabilize the area and provide long-term income for future generations.


Cocoa from the Kivu region has deep chocolate flavors with subtle nutty undertones. The addition of Congolese cocoa to our dark chocolate blends is an excellent complement to the floral and citrus flavor notes of our South American cocoa beans.

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COCABO

SUPPLIER NAME: COCABO (Cooperativa de Servicios Multiples Cacao Bacotorena R.L.)

LOCATION: Almirante, Panama

# OF FARMERS: 1,370

AVG. FARM SIZE: 3-5 Hectares

CERTIFICATIONS: Organic NOP & FLO Fair Trade

 

SUPPLIER NAME: COCABO (Cooperativa de Servicios Multiples Cacao Bacotorena R.L.)

LOCATION: Almirante, Panama

# OF FARMERS: 1,370

AVG. FARM SIZE: 3-5 Hectares

CERTIFICATIONS: Organic NOP & FLO Fair Trade

 

COCABO and Theo go way back! Our very first chocolate bars included COCABO cocoa in 2006. In fact, the relationship between COCABO and Theo Chocolate actually began before Theo existed. In the early 90’s, Theo founder Joe Whinney was working around the world educating chocolate makers about the merits of high quality, organic and Fair Trade cacao when he first visited the cooperative. COCABO was one of the original cocoa producers Joe worked with, helping to build internal capacity and create market linkages with specialty chocolate makers.

 

 

When Theo Chocolate opened in 2006 it was a natural fit to use COCABO cocoa in our chocolate. Long-time Theo fans will remember that Panamanian cocoa added a rich chocolate flavor to our earliest dark chocolate blends in 2006 and 2007. Since then, Theo has continued to develop relationships with cocoa producers in other origins while maintaining our connection with COCABO and developing new products utilizing Panamanian cacao. Theo has made several trips to Panama in recent years; Joe visited COCABO in 2012, and Theo’s cocoa sourcing manager, Nathan Palmer-Royston, visited in 2013 to review cocoa quality parameters, see farms, and discuss purchase forecasts with the cooperative.


COCABO cooperative was founded in 1952, making it the oldest agricultural cooperative in Panama. The membership is primarily made up of small-holder cocoa farmers who cultivate, harvest, ferment and dry cocoa beans entirely on their farms. Over the years, COCABO’s membership has grown to over 1,300 farmers and its offerings have diversified beyond cocoa to include bananas. This helps farmers earn income at times of year when cocoa is not the primary harvest. 

 

 

The coop members’ cocoa farms are some of the most beautiful in the world. Nestled deep in the jungle bordering La Amistad reserve, the farms are excellent examples of how cocoa should be cultivated in its natural environment. Cocoa is by design a tropical understory crop that likes to have lots of vertical biodiversity nearby. In the farms around COCABO you see many different species of shade trees, an array of fruit trees, and a wide variety of tropical birds.

 

Not only do the farms look beautiful, but the cocoa tastes amazing. The flavor profile is dominated by rich cocoa notes, with mild floral and nutty hints that play in the finish. COCABO cocoa has relatively low acidity, making it the perfect addition to our liquor blend for our excellent dark chocolate!