I had a lovely time yesterday evening, sat around a table in one of the huge windows of the Whole Foods Market, looking out onto the bustle of High Street Kensington. Thanks to Madecasse – and to the Whole Foods Market of course – I was there having a taste of their lovely range of vegan chocolates (only the espresso bean and milk bars are not vegan), whilst sipping on coconut water and finding out about how they make their fair trade bars taste so good.
Africa supplies a huge 70% of the world’s cocoa beans, yet Madecasse were one of the first to actually start making chocolate there. This makes the beans much more profitable for the local people, creating employment and self-sufficiency. We were told how many families in Madagascar are unable to afford schooling, or even shoes, so this fantastic empowerment of cocoa farmers can make a huge difference to the economic growth of Madagascar, and the quality of the life of those people.
We were told all about fermentation, cultivation and harvesting of the cocoa bean, and how each of these steps affects the quality. I was amazed when I tasted the 100% cocoa bar (absolutely no sugar) and found it very smooth and far less better than some other brands of 85% dark chocolate I’ve tasted. Clearly a very high level of care has been put into getting the best from the beans. It’s also down to the rare heirloom cocoa – a crop known for its smooth flavour and natural notes of red fruit.
There was a gradual increase in sweetness as the dark chocolate to sugar ratio changed, as we progressed from the darkest chocolate to the various flavours. All were delicious.
My absolute favourite flavour of the night was the salted almond. Sweet, nutty and with a salty edge. Just the right amount of salt too. However, our wonderful host Brett was soon to blow us away with his home-made truffles. Carefully crafted Madecasse chocolate, oozing with jam in the centre. There was a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing around the table, as I wasn’t the only one who tried their first jam chocolate.
I think one of the most profound feelings that came into my mind when eating this chocolate, is just how lucky we are. Most cocoa farmers have never even tasted chocolate (though we were assured that those working with Madecasse have now) and yet we can pick up a bar of chocolate anywhere, at any time. We have multiple pairs of shoes, can educate ourselves to the highest standards, and yet £3-£4 for a good quality, fair-trade bar of chocolate is often deemed as expensive to many people.
Not only are we paying for quality when we buy Madecasse chocolate, we are paying for fairness to farmers and their right to live a happy life, as we wish to live ours.
I’d like to thank everyone involved with the event – it was really enjoyable and I’m pleased to have discovered the taste of Madecasse – just in time for Easter!
Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend – and remember to enjoy good chocolate!