FAIRNESS AND SUSTAINABILITY
Are Original Beans chocolates organic?
The Original Beans chocolates are certified with the EU organic logo. It means that our chocolates are produced in full conformity with the conditions and regulations for the organic farming sector established by the European Union. Some of our chocolates do not carry the logo, because they contain cacao beans that are not certified yet but are totally natural, or cannot be certified, because they are wild.
What does “FairWild” certified mean?
Our Beni Wild cacao has been the world’s first Fairwild certified cacao. The term FAIRWILD® is a legally registered trademark. It denotes products collected from the wild (e.g. medicinal and aromatic plants, gums and resins, wild fruits, nuts and seeds, mushrooms) and guarantees that they are legally and sustainably sourced as well as fair traded, meaning that the benefits are felt by all those involved, right down to the local communities harvesting the wild plants.
How does the cacao grow?
Unlike common hybrid cacaos, none of our original cacao varieties grows on plantations. Except for the wild Beniano, they all are cultivated as mixed crops in semi-wild cacao gardens directly in the rainforest. This sustainable way of cultivation is possible because cacao naturally flourishes in the shadow of other trees. Furthermore, a diverse flora also enriches the forest terroir; its aroma is reflected in the cacao beans.
Is child labour involved in the cacao harvesting?
The following answer is just a short summary. To go all the way on the important question on child labour, we formally monitor it on each personal visit of our team members.
Since we source directly from farmer and indigenous communities we are closely involved with over many years, we intimately know their realities and can say with absolute confidence that Original Beans chocolates are 100 percent free from child labour. But what exactly does 100% child labour free mean? According to the ILO, “The term ‘child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” It further says: “Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive.” (http://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.htm (29.12.2015))
Child labour in cacao harvesting mostly takes place in West Africa, where more than 70% of all cacao comes from (http://www.laborrights.org/industries/cocoa (29.12.2015) In the anonymous, untraceable and cheap-labour situation of the large-scale cocoa industry, even child slavery has been well documented (see The Dark Side of Chocolate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vfbv6hNeng)
In contrast, the circumstance of families and their children in Original Beans cacao farming and harvester communities are more comparable to the situation in European agriculture one or two generations ago, when children participated in farming to help their parents – to an extent that did not affect their health and personal development.
In a survey on the Original Beans Virunga project in Eastern Congo, commissioned by the UK Department for International Development, it was confirmed that from all involved farmer families, the vast majority of the children between 7 and 18 attend school – contrary to their parents that in most cases have not attended school. The survey also reveals that about half of the children aged between 5 and 18 work for an average of 3.5 hours a day after school, including field work, household helps and caring for goats.
The Virunga example shows very well what our aim is: We want to empower the cacao farmers we engage with – by providing skill trainings and fair payment. Thereby, we enable them to send their kids to school and open up new possibilities for their future.
Are Original Beans chocolates Fairtrade?
Our chocolates do not carry the Fairtrade logo because it does not fit 100 percent with our philosophy and quality standards. As a trendsetting and responsible company, Original Beans does not want to outsource important controlling tasks – with respect to fair trade, farmer trainings and reforestation – to third parties. Original Beans’ cacao is produced in long-term partnerships with indigenous communities and small farmer cooperatives. With our cacao conservation leaders on the ground, we can guarantee full traceability and the implementation of our conservation principles. Original Beans is a member of the Direct Cacao Organization, which brings together bean-to-bar chocolate makers who buy quality fine cacao directly from farmers and pay much more for their cacao than the Fairtrade standard.
What are Original Beans’ conservation efforts?
For every bar sold, Original Beans enables the farmers in the origins to plant a new tree. That can be both a cacao or shade tree. For their cultivation, we set up tree nurseries where the seedlings grow until they can be planted. The farmers with whom Original Beans cooperates are trained as “tree experts” and gain knowledge about the fragile ecology they live in during their work in the nurseries. Once big enough, the new trees are planted in the midst of the rainforest and provide both food and a source of income for the farmers – all without chopping down precious forest.
Original Beans are sourced on purpose from origins defined by the scientists as biodiversity hotspots and wilderness areas. These are the most biologically diverse places on earth, but also the most threatened. Our local reforestation projects seek to re-establish the balance of these unique ecosystems and to protect nature’s wonderful wildlife. To achieve full traceability, the consumer can track the tree on our website.
How can I track the tree?
It takes a lot of time to grow a tree … and a new website. So please be patient as we raise our new tree tracker. And don’t worry, we still keep planting trees for every chocolate bar sold! Check back soon or send an e-mail to info@originalbeans if you’d like a notification of when the new tree tracker is live.
Why is the chocolate called “Original Beans”?
With our name, we refer to the origin cacao varieties that we search and protect. The regions where Original Beans sources from offer unique cacaos, with extraordinary flavours reflecting their distinct terroirs. We have rediscovered and replanted long-forgotten beans, like the ultra-rare Piura Porcelana in Peru and the historic Kerafat in Papua, Indonesia.
What is the packaging made of?
According to our zero waste policy, the foil as well as the cardboard are made from FSC-certified wood cellulose and thus 100 percent recyclable. Try it on your garden compost!
What does climate-positive mean?
Original Beans strives to turn its balance of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption from a debit to nature into a positive contribution.
Therefore, our chocolates are made on machines that run on nearly 100 percent renewable energy. The bars are packaged in a factory that uses 25 percent less energy than the industry standard. Also, our manufacturing sites are within a radius of 100km, reducing wasteful transport. Even our website hosting and office buildings are green.
All these measures, combined with our continuous replanting activities, has earned Original Beans the official status of ‘climate-positive‘, confirmed by a 2014 climate-assessment from independent experts.
How does the One bar : One tree program work?
For every chocolate bar we sell, we pay the farmers an extra amount on top of what we pay for their cacao. We then make sure that this extra money is used for planting trees, both cacao and neighboring shade trees.
The code on the back of each bar refers to a specific batch of seedlings. By entering the code at tree.originalbeans.com, you can see where the corresponding nursery is located.
When you break off a piece of Original Beans chocolate, you are breaking ground for a new tree. Each tree is a miracle, an ecosystem in itself with the potential to become one of the oldest and largest beings in the world! But trees are not meant to be solitary creatures. They thrive with others in a forest, just like the trees we are planting and preserving. And these forests, called agrofields by the farmers, have a great impact in different ways:
- They MULTIPLY FARMERS’ INCOME
- They PROTECT THE RARE because each tree propagates the unique genes of rare cacao varieties
- They guarantee that the production of Original Beans chocolate is CLIMATE-POSITIVE. As each tree absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere to grow, the tree planted or preserved per bar offsets the emissions for the entire production of the bar. In simple terms, you are reducing carbon emissions with every delicious bar you consume.
- They REBUILD & PRESERVE THE HABITAT of endangered animals, and other wildlife and plants
All of this would not be possible without you, our conscious customers. Thank you for helping us to replenish the rare!
CHOCOLATE & INGREDIENTS
Where does the cacao for Original Beans chocolates come from?
The cacao comes from highly biodiverse regions in South America, Africa and Asia. At the ground, we cooperate closely and trade directly with the cacao farmers. The organic cacao for all our chocolates grows either wild in the rainforest or semi-wild as mixed crops but never in plantations. To highlight the special taste of the fine flavour cacao, we produce single origin chocolates. The only bar that contains cacao from more than one origin is our Grand Cru Blend No.1 80%.
Read here more about our cacao origins
Besides cacao beans, what else do the chocolates contain?
Besides of finest single origin cacao beans, we just add raw cane sugar, in some bars cacao butter and milk (in our milk chocolates). The ingredients are all carefully selected to meet organic and sustainability standards.
What is cacao butter?
Cacao butter is the fat extracted from the cacao beans. The cacao butter used in all Original Beans chocolates stems from organic Trinitario beans from CONACADO, an organization of smallholder cacao farmers from the Dominican Republic. Usually cacao butter is filtered and deodorized to get a neutral, standardized product. CONACADO’s cacao butter is different: It is warmly roasted and then pressed unfiltered. Thus, it fits perfectly to Original Beans’ philosophy of preserving distinct aromas.
Why do you add cacao butter?
The amount of cacao butter in chocolate is important for the right melt. This is not only essential for the mouth feel of the chocolates but also for patissiers who use our chocolate to make truffles and desserts, because to process the chocolate, it needs to have a certain fluidity. The natural amount of cacao butter in the beans is not sufficient for that. Therefore, many chocolate producers add lecithin, which is the easiest and cheapest way to achieve melt. Original Beans decided for a more expensive but also more natural and sustainable solution: We add extra cacao butter.
What kind of milk do you use?
All Original Beans milk chocolates contain organic Swiss Alpine milk from cows that are raised predominantly on small but spacious farms with 30 cows or less. The highly bio-diverse terrain – from foothills to Alpine meadows – on which the cattle graze freely, contributes to the unique quality of Swiss milk. In return, the Alpine nature benefits from the cows who keep the soil fertile with their dung.
Since chocolate can only be made from dry substances, we use milk in powder form. To convert milk from liquid to powder, only water is extracted. No chemical pre- or post-treatment is applied here. Thus, only the state of aggregation changes but not the composition of the milk.
What is raw cane sugar?
Raw cane sugar is not carbonated or decolorized, meaning that besides sucrose and small amounts of fructose and glucose, it contains all the important minerals of sugar cane. The negative impact on the world’s climate is 40% less than products made with beet sugar, which is usually used in sweets.
Are there any additives in Original Beans chocolates?
As we want to bring out the natural aroma of unique cacao bean varieties, Original Beans chocolates are free from additives such as emulsifiers (like lecithin), foreign fats (like palm oil), industrial sugar or aromas (like vanillin). Besides the fact that additives like soy lecithin and palm oil gloss over the beans´natural taste, they are also against our philosophy of conserving the rainforest – because they are often the cause for deforestation in the first place.
How do you obtain the glaze, aroma and texture without additives?
We do not require emulsifiers like lecithin for the processing of our chocolates – due to the high-quality ingredients we use, our well elaborated recipes as well as proper roasting and conching times.
What does conching mean?
Conching is a modern process used in making chocolate. It takes places in steel vessels that stirs the mass over several hours so that remaining water gets extracted and the cacao butter gets evenly distributed in the chocolate. The characteristic taste, smell and texture are developed during the conching. The word goes back to the Spanish word “concha”, which means shell. It arose because the original vessel that used to hold the chocolate was shaped like a conch shell.
What is the best way to store my chocolate?
Since we refrain from using stabilizers and preservative agents, our chocolates are more temperature sensitive than other chocolate products. Original Beans chocolates should ideally be stored in a cool and dry place with a temperature between 16°C and 18° Celsius. Please do not store the chocolates in the refrigerator because the sugar content will crystallize due to the humidity. Too hot of a storage place is also not ideal as the cacao butter will be released and deposit as a white layer on the surface. Due to the loss of the cacao butter, the chocolate will dry up and lose its aroma.
Where does the white layer on my chocolate come from?
Such white coating on the surface does NOT carry any health risk but may affect the taste.
There are two possible reasons for a white layer on chocolate: fat bloom or sugar bloom. Fat bloom occurs when the cacao butter separates from the other components. This happens when the chocolate melts and solidifies again. Sugar bloom is much rarer. It occurs when the sugar separates from the other components. This happens when the chocolate gets wet, for example when you carry it openly home in heavy rain.
Usually, the bloom arises due to wrong storage in the shop. Therefore, we advise you to contact your retailer and to return the chocolate there.
Which Original Beans chocolate is suitable for vegans?
All of our dark chocolates are vegan. Only our milk chocolates – Esmeraldas Milk, Femmes de Virunga and Edel Weiss – contain milk products.
What is the difference between the bars and the chef chocolate buttons?
The chocolate used for both is the same. The bars can therefore also be used as couverture. However, because of their handy form, the chocolate buttons are ideal for cooking, baking and making hot chocolate.
What do allergy sufferers have to consider?
Original Beans chocolate may contain traces of milk, almonds, nuts and peanuts. Moreover, our milk chocolates – Esmeraldas Milk, Femmes de Virunga and Edel Weiss – contain animal proteins in form of milk powder.