Featured Producer: Madecasse – Madagascar Chocolate
In our first ever Love With Food Best Bites box, we feature a 70% Cocoa tasting square from Madécasse Chocolate.
We chatted with Joe Salvatore, the Director of Marketing for Madécasse, to learn more about cocoa beans, Madagascar farms, and awe-inspiring chocolate.
The word “Madécasse” is very unique. What does it mean?
Pronounced “mah-day-kas,” this is the old French word for the island of Madagascar, which is where we grow our cocoa and make our bars. Since Madagascar used to be called Madécasse, the idea is that we are going back to the roots of the island in the way that we make our chocolate.
How did Madécasse get its start?
At the turn of the millennium, the co-founders Brett Beach and Tim McCollum were volunteering with the Peace Corps in Madagascar. After their 24 months of service were over, Brett stayed on the island to work at the U.S. Embassy and USAID (United States Agency for International Development), while Tim worked in the financial services sector in New York. No matter where they were, they couldn’t get Madagascar out of their head.
You see, the Peace Corps really became a part of the local villages and communities, and Brett and Tim gained a new insight on poverty and the environmental problems there. While there were resources being put forward to the villages from well-meaning non-profits, nothing sustainable was happening.
After months of brainstorming, Brett approached Tim with the idea that creating a business in Madagascar was the best solution to solve the economic and environmental issues there, and Tim signed on. By creating jobs and supporting new local cooperatives and businesses, from farmers to chocolate makers, we can make damn good chocolate that creates at least four-times more income than fair trade cocoa alone.
Madécasse is a socially-conscious company. How are you making a positive impact?
First off, our chocolate is produced entirely in Madagascar. This means that from cultivating the cocoa trees to fermenting the cocoa pods and even hand-wrapping the bar, everything is done locally. So the farmers are paid above fair price, ingredients are purchased locally, and local people gain new skills as we train them. In terms of economic development, this means that all of the money stays in the local economy.
For the environment, we practice natural farming. This means that no herbicides or pesticides are used, and we harvest by hand. This also supports habitat conservation, providing an environment for native species like birds and lemurs while protecting local forests.
You say your chocolate is made in Madagascar from “bean to bar.” What does that mean?
From start to finish, the entire chocolate-making process is done in Madagascar. The cocoa beans are grown there, our chocolatier Shahin Cassam-Chenai is local, and we even print and hand-wrap the bars there before shipping them all over the world.
Apart from the positive economic impact this has, this also means that we can achieve the best tasting bar. We know exactly where the beans come from, we know the farmers and their families, and we all speak the local dialects and languages. For us, it’s a daily interaction.
What is so special about cocoa from Madagascar?
Madagascar cocoa is very fruity. For our chocolate, Madagascar cocoa is a unique blend of criollo, trinitario, and a tiny amount of forastero. Some of the beans are very white, while others are really purple, and each has a unique taste. This is why we are able to achieve the flavor of stone fruits and berries, citrus and vanilla in our dark chocolate, and citrus and caramel notes in our milk chocolate.
Want some Madecasse Chocolates? Our friends at Madecasse is offering their 70% dark chocolate at 25% OFF + Free shipping. GRAB OFFER Now.
All photos courtesy of Madécasse Chocolate.