Harvesting Fiji Cacao beans by Fijiana Cacao
It’s been a really busy year for us, as we’re recovering from Cyclone Winston crop devastation whilst keeping up with increasing demand for our pure, Fiji-made chocolate.
We’ve been working closely with our Cacao Farmers to improve Cacao bean harvesting — something we feel is essential to ensure sustainable crops and to grow the Fiji Cacao Industry. We’ve created a post-harvest fermentation toolkit for use by farmers, which helps them produce higher quality beans and fetch premium prices for their cacao.
We have also expanded our product range, with new Chocolate bars and Truffle flavours. Our Toasted Island Coconut is fast becoming the new favourite ahead of our Christmas Island Seasalt bars, with other new additions of Seasalt Sesame, Kava and our Pure Dark 100% Cacao bar.
Before we explore the wonderful world of Fiji Chocolate, we’d like to give you a quick introduction to how we harvest our 100% Fiji-grown Cacao beans.
We start the chocolate-making process with our Trinitario variety Fine cacao seeds, which grow into beautiful cacao plants:
It can take almost 5 years for a plant to reach full size to a tree which yields edible fruit. When it’s ready, the Cacao Tree will have beautiful fruits, known as Cacao pods.
During harvesting season, ripe cacao pods are cracked open to reveal beautiful white cacao beans inside. These beans are commonly called Cocoa beans.
The raw beans, which have a white flesh, are collected from each pod ready for the next step of the harvesting process.
Before the beans can be turned into delicious chocolate, they must be fermented to develop the rich, chocolate flavour. Fiji’s tropical climate is ideal for the fermentation process.
The beans are separated from the pods, wrapped in Dalo leaves and left for 4 to 5 days to ferment in our specially-made fermentation boxes. During fermentation the outer flesh of the cacao bean turns from white to brown.
This is what a fermented Cacao bean looks like on the inside:
The next step is sun drying. After fermentation, the beans are washed and dried under the hot tropical sun, a great source of energy. During perfectly hot weather the drying process takes about a week, but it all depends on Mother Nature.
Once the beans are ready, we work with each farmer to inspect and grade them, selecting the best cacao beans to take back to our chocolate factory.
This marks the end of harvesting, and we move on to the next phase — Chocolate making!
As you can see, before we even start the chocolate-making process, there is a lot of collaboration with farmers to help them to plant, grow and harvest the beans. This is a wonderful and rewarding part of the process which we enjoy — seeing cacao farmers progress and become self-sufficient.
Fijiana Cacao has been going for thirteen years now, first launched as Adi Chocolate Fiji. Our efforts are helping to improve the livelihoods of rural farming communities while also growing Fiji’s cacao industry.
This is what we love to do, and we think that our dedication and commitment can be seen and tasted in the quality of our delicious, single-origin chocolate.
We’re excited to launch some new products in 2018 so keep following our blog for updates and information 🙂
Wishing you a happy and healthful 2018, with lots of yummy chocolate!
Tomo & Harumi Zukoshi
Originally published at fijianacacao.com on December 27, 2017.