Two years later Afrikoa has became the first chocolate brand in Africa made with fair-trade heirloom cacao beans, the first bean-to-bar company in South Africa to produce chocolate made from cacao sourced directly from African farmers.
The Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP) has designated the cocoa trees of the Tujikomboe Farmers Group in Tanzania as Heirloom.
Allegra visited their farm in Tanzania in search of the best cocoa beans for Afrikoa chocolate. After tasting the complex fruity notes, he realised there was something special about their cocoa beans and immediately established direct trade with Tujikomboe.
“It was after meeting cocoa farmers in Tanzania that I realised I wanted to make a chocolate that showed off their amazing cocoa beans - a chocolate that was proudly African,” he said.
“As an Italian, I couldn’t understand why Belgian and Swiss chocolate are so famous when most of the cocoa beans come from Africa. We shouldn’t have to buy back something that grows in our backyard. That’s when we decided to promise that our chocolate will always be ‘Made in Africa for Africa’. We make chocolate in Africa for the African market, and if we start exporting to the rest of the world, the benefit of this success will return to Africa,” he said.
Afrikoa’s relationship with the Tujikomboe Farmers Group started three years ago.
“I believe in growing the art of chocolate-making within Africa and supporting the farmers and their local communities, which is why we set up direct trade with the farmer groups. We couldn’t believe how many middlemen there were in-between us and the farmers, and while I was on the cacao farm, sitting with the farmers, I thought to myself; ‘why does it have to be this way?’ Why can’t I just buy the beans straight from them?” he said.
He said that this partnership, which treats the farmers with fairness, dignity and respect, is the future of chocolate and one that also means you can enjoy their chocolate knowing you are encouraging a sustainable future for those 60 farmers and their families and this is why direct trade is better than any other certification.
“The first chocolate made in Africa using heirloom cocoa beans is such a big deal for us. When I visited Tanzania to source the best cocoa beans for Afrikoa, I knew there was something very special about their cocoa and I’m so thrilled that my intuition was right.
“Chocolate making is such a complex process and it really is a combination of skills - science, creativity and vision. You can have the best cocoa beans, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to make the best chocolate. I’m very proud of the chocolate we’ve created - it has a unique fruity flavour which champions our hard work as chocolate makers and also that of the farmers,” said Allegra.