Haiti: Poverty and Fine Cocoa
July 26 Artisan Chocolate, Cocoa, Cocoa beans, Dark Chocolate, Haiti, Healthy Foods, Natural Foods, Traveling Comment
The story of our short Haitian odyssey by Peter Kelsey, the Chocolatier and K'UL Foods Owner.
At the end of June I found myself on a plane which was on its way from Miami to the island of Haiti. Searching for unique cacao beans with great taste and genetic heritage along with Chris from "Singing Rooster", a missionary-type of coffee business owner, brought me there. All what I knew about Haiti was the fact that it was a former French colony which had prospered from forestry and sugar-related industries through the importation of African slaves long ago but had experienced considerable environmental degradation, man-made and from natural disasters.
Unemployment is now at 90% in Haiti and 80% of Haiti’s people live in abject poverty.
The samples of the beans were amazing though. The idea to help people and get super good beans for my chocolate is a double reward. So I packed my bag, and rushed towards adventure hoping not to get any accidental zika.
Haiti met me with heat, and street fights - the first night i was there, the City Hall got burned down. We were heading to the Co-op called Kafupbo, which unites about 500 small producers. Apparently, the country was in some kind of political unrest - the road was intentionally blocked by the huge rut, and we were allowed through only because the Co-op President asked in advance to let us in.
I was staying at the house of the Co-op President. No electricity. No running water. I am sure they gave me the best they could - and it was an oatmeal for dinner with a small piece of goat meat in a plaintain-potato stew for lunch. At breakfast, however was the best hot chocolate I have ever had - homemade from the local beans!
The cocoa is outstanding. We think that some French connoisseur knew that the trees would be happy in this environment. The trees are huge, having been left alone to grow and prosper, and the Haitians are just picking whatever is there. The value of the trees has prevented deforestation that the rest of the country has suffered.
Recently, they have introduced good, solid fermentation techniques to add value to their crop and while most of it is going to France we managed to buy enough to make the trip a success!
Single Origin K'UL bar from Haitian beans is about to hit the shelves! Stay in the loop of what's K'UL!