Deep Dive: Cacao Sourced from Uganda's Semuliki Forest

Deep Dive: Cacao Sourced from Uganda's Semuliki Forest

Have you wondered how cacao gets from its home in some tropical jungle to become the tasty bar you buy from our shelves? Here's an example of how that occurs!

One of our favourite sources right now is cacao from Semuliki Forest in Uganda. Complex and delicious with exotic fruit notes and tons of personality, these beans are becoming quite popular with chocolate crafters and we can certainly see why. So here's the process of getting them from Uganda to you...

It all begins in Bundibugyo, Western Uganda, Semuliki Forest. In this region, cacao is grown by organic smallholder farmers in the region, 52% of whom are women. Latitude Trade Co., the company that prepares and exports this cacao, has organised 10 rural collection points for farmers to access, where they sell fresh cacao weekly into the network and receive cash at the point of sale. Latitude's centralised fermentation facility and warehouse is located in the town of Kasese, north of Lake George. The site is designed to take advantage of all possible available sunshine while limiting runoff from heavy rainfall. Fermentation boxes have a 500kg capacity and total duration of fermentation varies from 5.5 - 6.5 days. Beans are sun-dried on portable raised racks for 6 - 7 days and blended to create consistent lots before export.

You can visit their Latitude's Website to see exactly how this business operates and meet the employees. They not only sell cacoa to chocolate makers world-wide but they make their own bars and other chocolate products too. Some chocolate makers will contact Latitude directly and arrange shipment of dried fermented beans to their local airport, or arrange for a shipper to courier their order. Others may work through a broker such as Uncommon Cacao, which has worldwide contacts among top cacao growers and can offer a "menu" of possible cacao sources to a chocolate maker. Here's what Uncommon Cacao has to say about Latitude and the Semuliki growers.

We love that they show complete and transparent the financial information. This is the type of thing that helps us decide which companies we will work with and what bars we will carry in The Chocolate Project. This amount of detail is sadly lacking in the business profiles of all industrial chocolate makers. We buy bars directly from their maker and sell them for the same price that the crafter charges for them. Their price to us is based on the cost of those beans (either from a broker or from the grower) per kilo plus their cost for packaging and shipping.

While there are many distribution models, this one is pretty typical for bean-to-bar makers like the ones we carry. Next time you are in the store, check out a bar sourced from Semuliki Forest., like Standout's 70% Semuliki bar or Raaka's Oat Milk bar. As you enjoy its fruity complexity think of the journey that those beans took from the green hills of Western Uganda to your palate. As we always say, real chocolate is created by actual people from harvest to final wrapping. Check out the websites listed above and get to know the talented, passionate folks who create your chocolate.
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