Brief note about cocoa


Cocoa is one of the commodities that has enjoyed most success in the fairtrade market in the UK, and it’s really no surprise since I was reading that we have the highest amount of retail chocolate and are one of the biggest chocolate consumption countries per capita (I’m sure doing my bit there!).

There is a strong fairtrade chocolate brand called set up by Twin) which has excellent products and a very appealing brand image, and which I’m sure I will use in future, but you can also find many fairtrade varieties of supermarket own brand products, and even giants such as Cadburys and  Kit Kat have now converted to fairtrade in recent years… in what we have been calling the ‘mainstreaming of fairtrade’, which again can give rise to much debate on whether is a good or a bad thing, with many alleging that it’s just big bad brands jumping in the bandwagon for the marketing value, and diluting the principles that the label represents, but to me, as long as it offers better price and volumes to more producers and it helps consumers to find their well loved brands with the fairtrade mark…It can only be a good thing.

But back to cocoa. One of the things that I learnt about it when I worked with producers, is that its origin is really very important in relation to its taste and that even though that cocoa tree itself seems to have been native to the foothills of the Andes, most of its worldwide production nowadays comes from West Africa. The African cocoa certainly tastes very different to the Latin American varieties and the Europeans seem to favour the taste of the African beans, which is why even though many Latin American coffee producers would like to diversify into cocoa production (which makes sense for many agricultural reasons) they can often struggle to find European buyers for their cocoa’s taste profile.

Even so, one can now see the emergence of many ‘peruvian cocoa’ chocolate bars in UK supermarkets, but  I have to say, that perhaps my palate has become European, because I do find myself preferring the African cocoa varieties too.

Which is why this week I chose a Ghanaian 70% dark fairtrade chocolate bar from the Co-operative’s own brand range. The Co-op has been in the news a lot this week and seems to be in great trouble, which I find is a real shame, since it is one the most ‘ethical’ supermarkets, at least in discourse!

I really wanted to add a Ghanaian twist to the souffle, but another thing that I found is often the case is that many cocoa producers never get a chance to try chocolate!, it seems that sadly it’s mainly exported for our enjoyment… so, i couldn’t find any recipes of Ghanaian desserts containing chocolate, the only thing I found was a version of hot chocolate with lots of cinnamon and ginger. Therefore I decided to add cinnamon to the souffle… it’s not much of a twist this time I’m afraid.

But, enough of that, get your pen an paper ready for this super easy recipe, that can generate great drama and impact!