“The production of cocoa is comparable to a vineyard, with the difference that cocoa does not react to chemical treatment. There are no “shortcuts” when working with cocoa. It takes 5 years on average to produce a viable cocoa plant, ”explains Jean-Rémy Martin. “It requires very precise and delicate treatment of the plant, the yields of which can vary from low to excessive. It takes water, but not too much. São Tomé and Príncipe is located in a climatic zone that is affected by the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator. We selected and imported the original cocoa plants from South America: Amelonado, Trinitario and Catongo. No hybrids or genetically modified plants (GMO).
However, these 3 strains produce rather low yields. We planted around 1,100 trees per hectare (2.47 acres) to give each cocoa plant sufficient space. This produces beans that are larger than average and have nothing to do with a classic cocoa bean.
“We selected and imported the original cocoa plants from South America: Amelonado, Trinitario, Forastero and (Catongo). No hybrids or genetically modified plants (GMO).“Jean-Rémy Martin (Founder)
We have been carrying out an ambitious reforestation program since 2014. Each variety must be precisely identified and labeled on each plot. This is necessary in order to be able to guarantee the full traceability of every bean and thus to guarantee accredited quality control.
On the plantation, the cocoa beans grow in pods that sprout from the trunk and branches of the tree. Our experienced employees harvest them manually in the tropical forest. The cocoa seed pods are carefully collected and selected.
Harvesters inevitably injure the tree during their work, often destroying clusters of flowers and pods. This means that our farmers carefully harvest each pod by hand. They used short, curved blades attached to long poles, the ganchos, in order to reach even the highest fruits.
After the cocoa pods have been collected in large baskets, the pods are cleverly opened and the beans carefully peeled out.
Now the beans go through their fermentation process. The fresh beans are covered with banana leaves in large wooden boxes. For the next 5 to 8 days, the beans are agitated regularly so that all of the beans can ferment evenly. This enables the cocoa to have the finest flavors. This sensitive process is permanently monitored in cooperation with the „chocolate makers“.
After fermentation, the beans dry on huge, covered tables on the plantation. The drying process usually takes over a week, with the beans losing half their weight. Then the beans come in the sack and are delivered straight to our factory in São Tomé.
Roasting and selection
At this point, the “chocolate maker” and production manager Jérémie Saillard and his team in the chocolate factory take over the beans. The roasting process determines the color and taste of the bean, based on the modern taste preferences of today’s chocolate consumers. Mastering this step is the crucial moment in order to bring out the perfect taste of the cocoa bean. “We have invested heavily in the best material. This latest technology enables us to manipulate every single parameter with infinite accuracy. The chocolate industry currently has the tendency to over-roast the bean in order to homogenize the taste of the cocoa and thus simplify mass production. We, on the other hand, are constantly looking for the perfect roasting technique. Each batch of beans should be tailor-made to bring out the best flavors of our precious bean. Even if this sometimes means not roasting the bean at all. „
Roasting makes the bean’s outer shell brittle, making it easier to break. We then carefully remove the outer shell of the bean and carefully break out the inner, precious cocoa bean flesh in small pieces and obtain the “cacao nibs” (cocoa nibs). The “Cacao Nibs” then pass through a series of sieves that crush the nibs and sort them by size. This process is called „winnowing“.
Grinding and mixing
Now the nibs are ground. During this grinding process, heat is generated, which transforms the dry granules of the nibs into a chocolatey liquid due to the high fat content that melts in the process. This cocoa stock is mixed with cocoa butter and sugar. The aromatic mixture is refined until it reaches its perfectly balanced suppleness.
Molding and packing
The hot, liquid, tasty chocolate is then subjected to a heat treatment in a special machine that stabilizes the chocolate’s aromas. Then it is up to Filipe and his team to shape the chocolate in a sophisticated way and to encase it with an elegant design in order to present you the final, delicious chocolate in our range.