22 Jul 2019
Belcolade Origins aims to take people on a journey to where it all began, to the terroirs of the diverse regions in which cocoa beans are cultivated. Recently, a new origins chocolate was launched: Papua New Guinea 73 Cacao-Trace. Like all Cacao-Trace certified Belcolade chocolates, the flavour of this chocolate has been optimised from bean to bar in order to safeguard the pure, natural taste of this region’s cocoa.
The taste of chocolate from Papua New Guinea is distinct from the taste of chocolate from Uganda or Ecuador. This difference in flavour is due to a variety of factors, ranging from the selection of the beans to the final chocolate recipe. At every step of the production process, Belcolade does its utmost to control the process and preserve the exquisite natural flavour of the cocoa beans.
Selection of the beans and the terroir
The process starts with the selection of the beans and the terroir, the region where the beans grow. The Papua New Guinea beans are cultivated on the steep mountainsides along the majestic Sepik River.
Fermentation of the cocoa beans
The next step is the fermentation of the beans. This is an extremely important factor in the final quality of the chocolate. The beans of all Cacao-Trace certified chocolates are fermented in local post-harvest centres, where Cacao-Trace experts and farmers ferment them according to the strictest standards.
Non-traditional, natural drying
Standard Papua New Guinea chocolate typically has an overwhelmingly smoky flavour. Traditionally, beans are dried on a wood fire, which results in cross-contamination of smoke and impacts the unique natural flavours present in the cocoa beans. To prevent this, we approached the local government and asked for permission to try our own drying technique, one that would not involve smoking. Our natural drying method, used nowhere else in Papua New Guinea, preserves the exquisite natural flavour of the cocoa beans. Using this method means that we, and the farmers we partner with, are the first to offer the ‘ultimate pure chocolate’.
We also master the roasting process, preserving the original taste by adapting roasting times and temperatures to the characteristics of the beans.
The combination of an optimised fermentation process, a bespoke drying process and careful roasting, resulted in a dark, non-smoky chocolate with a delightful, surprising complexity of flavours. Based on pure cocoa, this unique chocolate combines the roasted flavours of coffee and hazelnut with notes of both fresh and dried fruit. Underlying this are hints of black pepper and honey.
To create the highest quality chocolate, we work hand-in-hand with local cocoa farmers who are part of the Cacao-Trace programme. The programme was launched in this region in June 2018. The first step was adapting and standardising the cocoa bean fermentation process in about 60 locally-owned post-harvest centres, to ensure they meet Cacao-Trace’s rigorous fermentation standards. The programme has already had a positive impact on the environment and the livelihoods of local communities due to the beans no longer being dried by wood fire and an increase in wood supplying work. The next step will be to distribute the Chocolate Bonus, generated by sales of this Belcolade Origin chocolate.