Liliana Arias (Color Chocolate)
When Liliana Arias met cacao farmer Rosa Padilla her fate was sealed. The pair struck up a friendship that resulted in Colombian writer and journalist Liliana forming a foundation to empower women cacao farmers. The foundation’s brand, Color Chocolate, has since revolutionized Colombia’s cacao industry because rather than selling their cacao to chocolate producers, the women are able to sell the chocolate produced from their beans straight to customers. The brand, based in Boyacá where it was originally founded, is the first national chocolate brand owned and created by women and offers a range of products including table chocolate, cacao nibs, chocolate bars and chocolates with fruit. Liliana said: “The most interesting thing is that we cover the whole process of empowerment, participation and the recognition of the talent of these women.”
Carlos Velasco and Mayumi Osaka (Cacao Hunters)
This Colombia-Japan duo took their inspiration from Carlos’s 12 years working for the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation when they founded Cacao de Colombia and their brand, Cacao Hunters, in 2009. The pair are passionate about social responsibility and run a cacao school focused on technical and sustainable growing and harvesting, as well as offering generous incentives to farmers. Cacao Hunters, which buys cacao from farmers across the country and processes its chocolate in Popayan, works closely with indigenous tribes including the Arhuaco. In 2015 the company’s Arhuaco 72% dark chocolate bar won gold at the Chocolate World Finals in London and in 2016 they asked Arhuaco leader Hernan to represent them at Tokyo’s Salon du Chocolat.
Alberto Henao and Maria Carolina Angulo (Lök Foods)
Lök Foods’ Alberto Henao and Maria Carolina Angulo are determined to teach the world about chocolate’s role as a superfood and dispel any myths caused by poor quality production. This gourmet food company works directly with Colombian cacao farmers, mostly in Tumaco, Santander and Arauca, to produce natural, healthy chocolate of the highest quality and take advantage of premium chocolate’s antioxidant properties. Lök Foods, which also sells premium Colombian coffee, generates jobs on small farmsteads and offers products including milk and dark chocolate bars, chocolate-covered coffee beans and chocolate-covered uchuvas. Maria Carolina said: “Colombian cacao is appreciated across the world for its taste and flavor. It really is unique.”
Inspired by these tales of life-changing chocolate? Live this experience in Colombia. If you liked this article please share it on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any of your social networks.