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Two Beans, One Purpose – by Luke Owen Smith

September 01, 2022

Two Beans, One Purpose – by Luke Owen Smith

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The more you learn about coffee and cacao, the more you discover fascinating links between these two seemingly unrelated plants. They both produce beans that are transformed into two of the world’s favourite treats; they both grow in tropical climates all around the world; and they both offer a similar spectrum of potential flavours, ranging from bright and fruity to deep and roasty. They can even taste like each other!

With all of this common ground, it makes perfect sense that Kōkako Organic Coffee and Shirl & Moss Chocolate have come together to create a new limited edition Espresso chocolate bar. This new bar combines ethically sourced cacao from Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania with Kōkako’s Mahana Blend, which uses certified organic and Fairtrade coffee beans from Ethiopia, Timor Leste, Honduras and D.R. Congo. 

Cacao beans in open cacao pod
Image source: @silva_cacao

‘I wanted to develop an espresso bar using our new Kilombero Valley cacao from Tanzania - selfishly because I'm a massive coffee fan,’ explains Simon Godsiff, co-owner and head chocolate maker at Shirl & Moss. ‘The flavour profile of that cacao is on the fruity side so I knew I wanted to find a coffee bean that would balance those fruity notes.’

Godsiff is part of the blossoming bean-to-bar craft chocolate movement, meaning that he makes chocolate in very small batches from scratch, starting with unroasted cacao beans. After being harvested, coffee and cacao go through very similar processes - drying, hulling, roasting and grinding - before their paths diverge. Coffee goes on to be brewed, but the ground up cacao beans go through several more complex refining stages before being transformed into a finished chocolate bar.

Shirl and Moss Kōkako Espresso Bar – lovely swirly patterns on unwrapped chocolate bars

Unfortunately, the parallels between coffee and cacao also have a dark side. They are commodities with a very troublesome past involving exploitation and slavery - issues that are still prevalent today, despite the efforts of many companies and organisations to improve farming conditions and trade relationships. Kōkako and Shirl & Moss choose to make the most ethical and sustainable products possible, with a dedication to forming close relationships with their farmers and suppliers, and a willingness to pay above-market rates for their raw ingredients. 

‘Shirl & Moss truly respect the origin of their ingredients and understand their supply chain from bean to bar, just like we do from crop to cup,’ says Mike Murphy, Managing Director of Kōkako. ‘You can see how much they care about the farms that they work directly with.’

Cacao farmers in Tanzania drying cacao beans in the sun
Image source: @silva_cacao

Whilst this new collaboration brings together some of the finest coffee and chocolate in New Zealand, it’s really about the bringing together of people. Both of these companies are working hard to connect consumers to the source of their ingredients, as well as helping people realise that you can make a positive impact on the world, simply by choosing products that are made fairly and honestly. Who knew doing good could be so delicious?

If you’d like to try this Limited Edition Kōkako Organic Espresso 67% dark chocolate, you can find it here. 

 

Luke Owen Smith has been an advocate for the craft chocolate industry for the past ten years, predominantly through his work at his former business, The Chocolate Bar. These days you'll find him writing about chocolate (and beer!) for a variety of media outlets, judging at various chocolate awards, and generally promoting high quality, ethical chocolate in whatever way possible. 

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