FaQ - Original Beans


Where can I buy Original Beans?

Depending on your country you can find us in the chocolate shelfs of key organic supermarkets, bigger finefood stores, chocolate shops and on our website. Please do not hesitate to contact us on info@originalbeans.com if you want to find out exactly where to get your next bar of delicious Original Beans chocolate.

Chocolate and 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 only produce single origin chocolates. 

Read here more about our cacao origins.

Besides cacao beans, what else do the chocolates contain?

Besides our 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?

Beans chocolates stems from organic Trinitario beans from CONACADO, an organization of smallholder cacao farmers from the Dominican Republic. Cacao butter is obtained by gentle pressing of cacao mass, after which the cacao butter is filtered. The cacao butter is only slightly deodorized, to keep the original cacao flavors. The used cacao mass is from gently roasted beans. 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?

Original Beans milk couvertures using rich Swiss milk. The natural biodiversity of our region with its lush meadows and alps boasting over 100 different flowers and herbs, where cows gently graze, and the crystal clear mountain spring water contribute to the unique quality of Swiss milk.

The cows are kept in a particularly species-appropriate manner and spend a lot of time in the open air. Because only animals that feel comfortable give healthy, tasty milk. We stand for biodiversity. In generous ecological areas like hedges, heaps of branches, flower meadows or in high-stem orchards rare plants and animals find new habitats.

Last but not least, society benefits from sustainable milk: Because cows mainly eat grass, the world’s population has more grain than food.

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.

Are there traces of nuts (or any other allergen ingredient) in Original Beans chocolate?

Despite intensively cleaning after every production with possible allergen ingredients, all our chocolate may contain minimal traces of hazelnuts and almonds. And for the dark chocolate also minimal traces of milk.

What is Cadmium?

Cadmium is a natural metal element like lead, zinc and copper. In combination with other substances it is present in the earth’s crust and in the air, water and soil.

Cadmium can be unhealthy depending on the form of cadmium, the amount of intake in the body and whether the cadmium is eaten or inhaled. High levels of cadmium can cause flu-like symptoms and are also related to bone and lung diseases.

If you eat grains, potatoes, some leafy vegetables, shellfish and chocolate, you will already have ingested naturally occurring cadmium. Depending on the region where your foods come from, the amount of cadmium traces vary considerably.


Why is Cadmium relevant for chocolate consumers?

In chocolate, higher levels of cadmium traces are found in cacao beans from South America compared to cacao beans originating from Africa and Asia. Cacao trees absorb cadmium during their metabolic processes which is then stored in the cacao fruit and its seeds, the beans. No process exists to remove cadmium traces during the chocolate making and so they make their way into the final chocolate product.


EU Regulation on Cadmium Limits effective as of January 1st 2019

New regulations regarding maximum allowable limits of cadmium, as specified in the European Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006, will become effective as per the 1st January, 2019.

Original Beans has been monitoring cadmium levels in the beans and the chocolates for years through analysis of independent and recognised external laboratories.

All Original Beans products will of course comply to EU regulations. We will continue to measure cadmium levels in all our cacao beans and all chocolates. And we will report them to you on demand. In this way, we want to make sure you can enjoy a pure, natural product from local provenance without a second thought.


What are the EU’s Cadmium Limits?

As of January 1st 2019, the European Commission is introducing the following legal maximum levels of cadmium permitted for cacao, chocolate and their derivatives (Regulation EC 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006):


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.

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?

> Go to the back of your bar
> Find the code under the best-before-date
> Go to: One Bar : One tree page
> enter the code and see it grow.

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 wild Beniano cacao, that grows endemically in the Bolivian Amazonas.

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 originalbeans.com/one-bar-one-tree/, 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:

  2. They PROTECT THE RARE because each tree propagates the unique genes of rare cacao varieties
  3. 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.
  4. 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!



What kind of trees does Original Beans plant?

With our One bar : One tree program, we plant cacao and neighboring shade trees, such as fruit trees or legumes, as mixed crops in cacao forests. We also reforest native forest stands in the cacao origins to replenish the green lung of our planet. In the latter case, it’s not about the cacao itself but about nature conservation of its rainforest home.

Is Original Beans a bean-to-bar chocolate?

To distinguish artisanal from large-scale industrial production coffee, beer, gin and now chocolate makers are using new words to describe their uniqueness. “Bean-to-bar” is such a word and it tries to capture the notion that bean-to-bar makers are deeply involved and control every step of chocolate making from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar. In this sense, Original Beans is a bean-to-bar maker.

However, we prefer the work “craft” as in craft beer, craft gin, craft baker, etc. for the description of what we do. With peer chocolate makers we collaborate closely to define and spread the words, including craft, heirloom, direct trade, etc.

Here is a peer-reviewed summary published by Cocoa Runners of what makes us as a craft chocolate different from industrial chocolate.


Mainstream, mass produced chocolate makers

Single origin, small batch craft chocolate

Blend beans from multiple thus untraceable sources, creating a uniform taste lacking a sense of place.

Focuses on the flavour of a single estates’ terroir, vintage and beans.

Remove the flavour rich cocoa butter, replacing it with vegetable fat plus the addition of additives to manipulate the consistency.


Only uses cocoa butter and cocoa solids.



Buy beans from wholesalers, brokers and large co-operatives, without direct contact with the farmers

Work directly with farmers to ensure fair, liveable wages

Focus on bulk buying of cocoa beans at the lowest price.

Pays premium prices to source the highest quality beans.

Manufacture on a large industrial scale, using automated processes, which is largely “white labelled” by a small number of companies in Belgium etc.

Crafts in small batches and use unique recipes


Sell primarily via supermarkets, newsagents and vending machines, where product knowledge is not a factor.

Sell directly (often at their plants) or via specialty stores (e.g, organic stores, farm stores) and specialist websites



Awards & Certifications

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