When we founded Club ChoKolate in 2017, we began on a mission to be customer-focused, and share anything related to well-made chocolate sustainably. This post is about the latter, how dark chocolate benefits the lives of others by giving back to people that will keep this "cacao-chocolate" field moving forward.
After our first full year, 2018, we had Venezuela's artisan chocolate makers and cacao producers in mind for our first donation since we are also Venezuelans and know the current critical situation there. This contribution will be funded by a percentage of our revenue, and this would be another dark chocolate benefit! What we mean is that by you, our customers, buying products from Club ChoKolate, and supporting our activities, you are directly benefiting the cacao farmers and chocolate artisans. In this case, Angela, a very humble, hard-working lady whom we have not met yet.
How did we make the connection with Angela? Well, it was a long way, but worth every minute. We contacted María Fernanda Di Giacobbe, one of the most influential personalities in the fine chocolate and fine flavor cacao, also a Venezuelan and founder of Cacao de Origen. She is the winner of the 2016 Basque Culinary world prize for her work within the cacao and chocolate movement in Venezuela where many people, especially women, have been trained in quality cacao practices, and bean-to-bar chocolate making, giving hope to the recovery of Venezuela's cacao and chocolate industry within the current critical political and economic situation. As you can see, dark chocolate benefits expand beyond health, it impacts the lives of people in many countries.
María Fernanda suggested an excellent idea. She knew about Ángela Gonzalez, cacao balls and chocolate spread producer in the small town of Río Caribe on the east coast of Venezuela. Ángela trained with her mother in the art of chocolate making and then continued her entrepreneurship by herself until becoming famous locally as well as nationally, winning local and national recognition. However, she was using corn grinder and a home food processor, as well as Río Cacao's school facilities to make her products. Important to note that Angela's efforts are what sustains her family, including a child with special needs. Angela had been saving money to buy a chocolate refiner machine for years, but she was never able to complete the amount or had to use her funds for more critical needs. María Fernanda told us, "we bring small chocolate refiners for small producers like Ángela. Do you think Club ChoKolate can sponsor her refiner?" Our answer was an immediate "YES!" this is precisely how we envision how good quality dark chocolate benefits the people directly involved with it.
Now, you won't believe what came next. The simple part was for me to transfer the money, so the equipment can be purchased, but getting the refiner to Ángela is a story in itself. Most people cannot comprehend how easy we have it in the USA or any other industrialized country. Here, we would probably order this machine online, and then ask to be shipped to a recipient of our choice, and done. However, other countries have different circumstances. María Fernanda kept us informed each step of the way. She received the chocolate refiner, now how to bring that to Ángela from Caracas to Río Caribe, an 8 - 9 hours drive.
Some of her connections in Venezuela helped her transport the machine. The truck driver, a cacao farmer from Sucre state, met her in the middle of a highway in Caracas to receive the equipment, and then drive all the way to Río Caribe. Finally, Ángela received the machine in April 2019. It took us months to coordinate this delivery, but it was well worth it.
After Ángela became aware that she was going to receive the refiner and then when she actually go it, we never heard more "thank you" and expressions of gratefulness coming from one person. Now we know how you can recognize when dark chocolate benefits the lives of others through finding the tools needed to make craft chocolate products, by people that care and dedicate time and effort to achieve excellence, despite the shortcoming. By the text message we received, as well as the voice notes, we can tell that the impact we have made in Àngela's life, and that of her family is just gigantic. We feel honored and proud to have contributed to the improvement of a Venezuelan family that we know will carry the artisan chocolate torch for many years to come.
Her first batch is made with cacao from a producer named Calixto López. The cacao varietal is "Agua Fría," also from the same region. So this dark chocolate small family business is not only helping the family that makes it, but also the local cacao farmer.
This sentiment could not get any better; except for trying Ángela's chocolate spread very soon. Club ChoKolate feels honored to expand the dark chocolate benefits, specifically to have helped this woman and her family achieve their dreams, and sustain artisan chocolate production for years to come. Thanks for reading this far and happy chocolate life!
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