Handmade in Bali
One of the things we pride ourselves on as artisan chocolatiers is that we try to do as much as we can ourselves, and by hand, as possible. Yes, like most modern-day processes we rely on machines for some things (hello grinding and tempering), but we are proud to say that we still hand pour, mould, and wrap every one of our chocolates. It gives us a real sense of pride to know we have touched (with gloves of course!) every bar and box of chocolate that leaves our doors.
But this philosophy is not ours alone. It is shared by our farmers as well. As I have mentioned many times before, farming is an incredibly, difficult and laborious process. Here in Bali, farmers and farms are subject to harsh weather and conditions – the dry season can feel like the surface of the sun and the wet season just 3 long months of living in a swamp.
Every tree in a farmer’s plot must be checked daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Then, on top of that, there is all the fertilizing, pruning, weeding, and grafting that must take place, often in combination with the growth of other crops like bananas, coconuts, and vanilla.
Harvesting is another labor-intensive moment. Cacao farmers are often required to bring in extra help to pick and crack open pods, all by very steady hands. I’m still amazed every time I watch a cacao farmer crack open a pod with a few elegant cuts. It doesn’t seem to turn out the same way when I do it.
Hands-on work is continued throughout the fermentation and drying process. The final bit of skill comes in the sorting process—every bean is hand sorted (usually by the women of the village) for quality, and consequently, destination. They move with a rapidity and accuracy that boggles the mind. Let’s just say if I was in charge of sorting, no one would be eating chocolate.
All of that to say we are so very grateful to the farmers who grow the amazing crops we use every day. We couldn’t do it without them!