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Bar of the Month (January 2023): 90% Tumaco Colombia

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

We’re starting off the new year on a dark note. The darkest we’ve ever created!

Our bar of the month for January 2023 is our 90% from Tumaco Colombia.

According to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) 95% of Colombian Cacao is classified as being fine flavor (as opposed to bulk cacao of more inferior quality). Only 5% of global cocoa production is considered by ICCO to be fine flavor cacao. Colombia is unique in that its production primarily focuses on the Criollo and Trinitario hybrid varieties.

Tumaco is located in the department of Nariño, which borders Ecuador. Approximately 95 % of Tumaqueños are Afro-Colombian, while the other 5% are mestizos and the indigenous Awá people.

Ironically, this region has been referred to as the Pearl of the Pacific. I say ironically, because for the thousands of people living in Tumaco, the region may be far from treasured. The murder rate is 4 x higher than Colombia’s national average and 74% of its mostly displaced population is unemployed.

Political instability, rampant crime, militias, and narco-trafficking are contributing to the dire poverty and displacement of people in this very volatile region.

Amidst this glaring injustice however, there is a small glimmer of hope through the farming of fine flavor cacao which has been a source of stability, and international representation for thousands of families.

Sourced through our partners at Uncommon Cacao, these beans:

  • offer a reliable source of income to farmers in the region. A focus on investing in fine flavor cacao ensures that this market will grow.

  • increase a farmers’ income. The market price for this cacao is higher than that of the regular market price or even the fair-trade market price

  • strengthen the social fabric, resiliency and skills in the community by educating farmers, including women and young adults on farming a productive crop

  • this in turn presents them with a reliable option for their future

  • our partners work directly with farmers to educate them on sustainable production, the importance of proper fermentation and drying in order to obtain a high-quality export product with low incidence of environmental impact. This includes education and research into disease resistance prompted by climate change.

  • protect biodiversity in the community

  • present an alternative to the instable and low priced commodity market

All of these present a chance for an improvement of living conditions, especially in a region dominated by armed violence and narco-trafficking. Investing in a craft chocolate such as this one, in turn guarantees growers and farmers a stable market over time.

We chose Tumaco as the single origin for our 90% bar because this bean is perfectly chocolatey without any astringency or bitterness at all.

While our other origins offer more of a fruity flavor journey, Tumaco is perfectly chocolatey, with hints of caramel, fudge, nuts, whiskey, panela and spices. It is surprisingly smooth and creamy and deep. Remember, we do not add anything to our bars (not even cacao butter) we just let the beans do the talking.

Benefits of trying our 90% Tumaco (aside from the ones listed above!)

  • Expanding your own taste buds is a good new year’s taste resolution. Many people assume a 90% chocolate is “too bitter” but we think you might be pleasantly surprised at how smooth this bar is!

  • Dark chocolate is healthy! The higher the percentage of cacao, the lower the sugar. And with our lighter roast profiles, more of the great antioxidants and good stuff get retained in the chocolate and are not zapped out through over-roasting

  • Truly Craft Chocolate is made with sustainably sourced fine flavor cacao beans and just two ingredients.

  • Being a very chocolatey profile (as opposed to fruity like our other origins) this one pairs well with craft beer, specialty coffee, wine and spirits such as whiskey or mezcal. Especially since there are little tannins and no bitterness, it’s fun to Turned out very nice!

  • If you’re into baking, this one is a dream inside a freshly baked croissant

  • If you are vegan, this bar, like all of our bars is naturally vegan without trying to be! And of course, lactose free too!

  • For the truly adventurous, this bar pairs well with many artisan cheeses especially soft creamy and mild cheeses but also many blue cheeses! Elevate your next cheese board by adding nuts, dried fruit and our 90% Tumaco! The results will surprise you!

and lastly, the most important as mentioned above:

  • Education on cacao cultivation has led to strengthened networks of farmers who are now dedicated to high quality flavor development instead of serving the commodity market. Well-managed, centralized processing and drying techniques not only improve the quality of the cacao beans but effectively represent more stable economic growth and security in the Tumaco region. Farmers now earn 70% more income from cacao than when they were selling dried beans through the commodity market. This is truly a great origin.

If you’re really not sure about going as dark as 90%, but want to taste this origin, you can always go for our 74% instead!

Both bars won bronze at last year’s Academy of Chocolate Awards in the UK!

More information on the region of Tumaco:

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