Native cocoa
Native cocoa

Raw cacao is different from the common cocoa, that one might have experienced in your Violet Crumble growing up, which goes through a process where many of the health benefits are lost.

However, in its raw form, cacao (pronounced cu-COW) is right up there with close friend and indigenous cousin, the Acai fruit. I know this defies belief as we take check of our waistlines and you shout at me “Whole foods like broccoli, blueberries, even the every day potato are Superfoods, as we know them”. And I hear you!

Superfoods? Are typically foods that contain significantly higher quantities of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other health boosting, anti-aging, disease fighting goodies.

When referring to the organic, unprocessed version of the cacao bean, derived from the Theobroma cacao tree, we find a mind-boggling successful Superfood.

Cocoa

The benefits being:

  • 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries
  • Highest plant-based source of iron
  • Full of magnesium for a healthy heart and brain
  • More calcium than cows milk
  • A natural mood elevator and anti-depressant

However, remove the organic from the conversation and we are faced with losing many health benefits, often a far cry from cacao in its raw! A product treated heavily with toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals may contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). This can also pollute other agricultural crops including bananas, babaçu, acai, Brazil nuts and cupuaçu.

Still, there is a darker side to this natural mood elevator. Indigenous communities grow the majority of the world’s cacao, where poverty is widespread, and workers are renowned to be treated abominably. There are reports from Africa to Asia to the Amazon basin of epidemic levels of child slavery. In late 2000, a BBC documentary reported the use of enslaved children and child trafficking in the production of cacao.

So, what does this all mean for our sweet tooth? It means we need to be mindful (as I pull my drinking chocolate and dark chocolate treats off the shelf, to validate the authenticity of its origin) when choosing which chocolate we eat and serve to our clientele.

Fortunately we have the liberty to choose the origin of both coffee beans and cacao/chocolate in Australia. The Australian cafe industry should aspire to be on a sustainable path and conscientious of our actions and decisions. For the longevity of the industry, but also as a barometer for the rest of the world to look up to, admire and most importantly follow our trends.

Cocoa powder

Minas Hill, founded in 2012, as an Australian green bean wholesaler and reseller. Sustainable and cadmium-free! Supporting small farmers cooperatives, sharing passion for the families, sharing passion for the forest, using non-toxic farming practices to preserve our environment. In 2020, their long time dream to start sourcing raw cocao-dervived products from Brazil, came true.

I’m so proud to be working in an industry that I truly believe cares about origin and none more so than the team at Minas Hill. Their values are exemplary! They set the bar high as they operate closely with their Brazilian farmers in delivering the highest quality product, without harming the environment or its indigenous community. In fact, the opposite is true. By working with the farmers’, they deliver programs and incentives that greatly protect the environment and enhance the communities from which they operate.

Minas Hill’s cocoa grows through an agroforestry system under the trees, preserving the forest, protecting the fauna and flora, and in cooperation with other agricultural crops including banana, babaçu, acai, Brazil nuts and cupuaçu.

The raw material used in their cocoa-based products has unique features inherent from the Amazon and Atlantic forests. The cultivation of fruit trees under native forests adds excellent quality and exceptional flavour to their cocoa.

They operate to establish a harmonious relationship between production, communities, environmental preservation and family farming. Which empowers the producer and improves the livelihoods in their communities.

I speak directly to Mariana Pugliese from Minas Hill who tells me all about where they source their cacao.

Amazon

Altamira

Altamira is situated in the state of Para, in the Amazon region where the production of raw materials for the cocoa industry is growing at a very high rate. CEPOTX cooperative focus on organic cocoa almonds production across 5,513 hectares including hundreds of family farms supported by projects focusing on organic standards and quality control. The cooperative operates based on sustainable agricultural practices promoting environmental preservation to reduce the negative impact agriculture can have on the natural environment of the Amazon.

Bahia

In the south of Bahia state, cocoa is produced with low carbon agroforestry impact in the Atlantic Forest, which concentrates the highest biodiversity in the world. CABRUCA cooperative grows cocoa trees under the forest canopies along with other plants, such as açai, palm trees and others. This way it promotes the replacement of forest extracts, diversification in the agroforestry and supports the ecosystem’s preservation over an area of 1,602.28 hectares. CABRUCA follows and meets all requirements of Brazilian, European (EU) and North American (NOP) standards for organic practices.

Amazon rainforest, Brazil

Products

Alkalized Cocoa Powder

Alkalized Cocoa Powder

Made from selected raw cocoa beans and homogeneously alkalized to develop a better taste, aroma and colour. Available in two options: brown or dark red alkalized cocoa powder.


Natural Cocoa Powder

Natural Cocoa Powder

Made from selected raw cocoa beans. 


Cocoa Butter

Cocoa Butter

Made by pressing the liquor from selected roasted and peeled cocoa beans, which is then filtered. Deodorised cocoa butter available.


Cocoa Liquor

Cocoa Liquor

Made by grinding selected roasted and peeled cocoa beans. Available in chip form (kibbles).


To find out more about what Minas Hill can do for your business please contact Mariana on 0499 513 456 or info@minashill.com.au

Article by Rob Marlowe, Cafe Culture International

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