There is much more to Brazilian chocolate than its classic ingredients. The mixture of cocoa paste, cocoa butter, and sugar might also reflect sustainable production, technology, quality, biodiversity, and development of rural communities. This is the case of cocoa from southern Bahia state, gaining popularity in recent years.
“Quality production improves family income in the region,” says Marina Paraiso, agronomist and Quality Supervisor at Agricola Conduru. With her help, we have listed the main aspects of Brazilian cocoa and why you should try our finest, awarded chocolates, wherever you are.
1. Agroforestry systems
In Southern Bahia, cocoa is produced within a system called “cabruca.” Indigenous people define this method, and it describes cultivation in the Mata Atlântica [Atlantic Rainforest] ecosystem, preserving the biome.
2. Good processing practices
When it comes to chocolate, the processing is key. Brazilian cocoa has been recognized for its post-harvest stages, such as fermentation and drying. These are essential stages, responsible for the formation of the taste and flavor precursors. Every step of the process plays its role in making a good chocolate bar, with the right acidity and quality indicators.
During the 1980s, cocoa production in Southern Bahia suffered from a plague that made many farmers pivot to other products. Now, over the last decade, thanks to technology, genetic improvement, and new varieties, Brazil has been upgrading its cocoa almond’s quality and chocolate production. Farmers like João Tavares, a pioneer in this cocoa “comeback,” led the country to important international prizes.
4. Awards and international recognition
“This is our moment,” says Marina Paraiso. That is because, over the last decade, Brazil’s reputation has increased as one of the countries that produce fine chocolate bars. The AVPA 2021 Gourmet Bronze is one of our latest awards. Cocoa and chocolate exports have been increasing, including destinations known for their strict requirements regarding the quality of the ingredients, like Switzerland.
5. Geographical indication
Today, Brazil has three geographical indications registered by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and validated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (MAPA): cocoa from the south of Bahia (in the Northeast Region); cocoa from Linhares, in Espírito Santo (in the Southeast Region); and the indication of origin from Tomé-Açu, in Pará (in the North Region). These certifications confirm cocoa’s quality and also guarantee its traceability and fair labor conditions, among other requirements.
6. Improvements to local communities
Due to this recent excellence boost, local cocoa farmers have been more motivated to improve their properties to meet high-quality standards. This means better working conditions, higher income, and better lives and education for local communities. “Our employees, for example, are proud to make quality cocoa. With courses and training, they are encouraged to continue improving their methods,” says Marina.
Brazilian fine chocolates are among the best in the world. They are acknowledged for being very aromatic, with fruity acidity and floral notes. This flavor can be found in chocolate and many cocoa products, like nibs, beans, cocoa honey, cocoa powder, jelly, pulp, and many more.