Six months ago a visit to our small chocolate factory (south) would have revealed-- among the piles of bags of beans, the roaster, conching machines, and cocoa butter press--several towers of cocoa press cake. These were the unwanted by-product of pressing chocolate liquor to get the prized cocoa butter.
How we produce this prized cocoa butter
Eighteen pounds of warmed chocolate liquor pumped into this hydraulic press, takes about forty minutes to yield approximately seven pounds of cocoa butter. This is put back into our chocolate to give it that smooth mouthfeel. The process has always been the hardest part of making chocolate for us, as it's time consuming and needs careful hands-on attention to ensure the correct pressure is reached. The cocoa butter is precious!
What we are left with from each press is this
A twelve-inch diameter round of cocoa presscake. This has had most of the butter/fat pressed out of it; about 13 percent remains. The presscake is ground up to produce cocoa powder, which we use for our chocolate syrup, for cocoa powder to sell (to make hot cocoa) and for our chocolate drinks in the boutique (at least thats what we used to do with it), but we weren't selling anywhere near as much of this as we were producing, hence the towers. At one point, at the beginning of 2020, we had two hundred pounds of cocoa powder that we couldnt shift...then Covid hit!
All change -- no more customers!
No more delicious drinks like these being served in the shop (until this pandemic ends.)
Suddenly our thriving business selling chocolate bars and chocolate bonbons ground(pun intended) to a grinding (another pun intended) halt.
With the closure of all borders and the International airport, tourism died here in Belize, and tourists made up 90 percent of our business. During the long days of lockdown, we brainstormed how we could save the business that we had built up from nothing and have nurtured like a child for the last thirteen years.
We realized that there wasn't going to be any tourism anytime soon, at least until the airport and borders opened back up and that didnt look like it was going to be anytime soon either. The scheduled August 1st, opening date was put back to October 1st, and with the various protocols needed to open we resigned ourselves to very little tourism until possibly 2021 soonest.
We had to change it up in order to survive and decided to change our business model, at least for the time being and switch from producing and selling chocolate to marketing the cocoa powder.
The cocoa powder was about to become the star, no longer the bridesmaid, it had the chance of becoming the bride! Remember those towers of presscake?Well, we started grinding them up and calling up ice-cream shops and bakeries.We acquired several new clients within Belize and one icecream shop in LA. Check out their delicious icecream here
They are Belizean owners and are thrilled to be utilizing ingredients from their home country to showcase in US. Watch out for their cacao tea flavor that they have just added recently using our TeaOBroma cacao tea.
We have gone from having a glut of cocoa powder to a dearth in the space of six months ,and we now have plenty of cocoa butter ready to put back into that chocolate when the time comes, and lets hope that's soon.
Bakers, chefs and icecream makers please contact us if you are interested in purchasing our cocoa powder.
Soap makers we have cocoa butter!
(and for anyone who's interested " I should cocoa" is cockney rhyming slang for " I should say so"