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Day 7 -9. The beginning of the end.

Its funny how things happen. Back in 2016, when we first established Pure Mill Chocolate, we were adamant about only using Cocoa from Peru, South America. Maybe it’s because that’s where our story in cocoa began. Or simply because it’s what we knew. This was the bean that made us fall in love. However, it wasn’t until we got a special visit from Brian at the 2019 Brisbane Regional Flavors event that changed our chocolate making world! Brian was kind enough to bring us several bags of magical beans from different farmers in the Solomon Islands. We loved them so much that we ended up using both the Peruvian and the Solomon. But I must say, nothing else compared to the...

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Day 6 - CB fermentation and Practice Audits

Well rested from our Indiana Jones wild jungle style ride yesterday – we get back into work mode amongst the rugged beauty of Makira. We start by inspecting the nearby fermentary, where we get to see the strenuous turning and drying process in action.      The fermentation process hasn’t changed much from the ancient Mesoamerican methods. In the large wooden boxes, yeasts feed off the cocoa pulp and consume any oxygen within the heap, forming ethanol. The Lactic acid bacteria species start to take over, producing lactic acid, before the farmers turn the cocoa heaps to oxygenate and promote the growth of Acetic acid bacteria. This produces the acetic acid which causes the temperature within the heaps to reach around...

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Day 5 - Tropical haven.

Imagine this. Michael our driver, Kathe and I, crammed in the front of a little white ute. Its dusty, ridiculously humid, the aircon doesn’t work and we have been driving on a very bumpy and at times dangerous road for more than 4 hours. The back is filled with cocoa farmers, who are chewing their Betel nut and smoking cigarettes. Yes, its as hot and uncomfortable as it sounds.  Solomon driving!  We are on our way to Waimarae to do more organic certification sessions. The long drive has enabled us to see the wild beauty of Makira, passing through tropical jungles, lined with small seaside villages and unfortunate glimpse of empty space due to the continuation of logging.    We finally arrive...

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Day Four in the Solomon Islands.

Its 9am, and Kathe, Brian and I have just arrived for the first organic certification session in Kira Kira – Makira Island. We had 22 local cocoa farmers come to the event, there was lots of information to take in, lots of questions, and we finished off the event with some chocolate tasting that I made with one of the farmers beans. That was my favorite part.  We think the island of Makira will be easy to become certified, as no one uses chemicals here. The farmers work incredibly hard and use traditional farming practices, meaning it has a very low risk for contamination (like zero). One thing that stood out to me from our session was there was only one female...

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The land of bananas and the legend of the Kakamora

Sapped by the morning spent in the organic workshop, we rush off to the domestic airport – EnRoute the island of Makira. We are seated evenly to even out the weight in the tiny plane, which I'm sure would terrify anyone afraid or not of flying!  We take off quickly, and I can't help but sheepishly hold on tight to the chair, butterflies in my stomach. Did I mention tiny plane...Brian has been telling me about the local legends of the Solomon Islands, giants and the moon loving kakamora. I think of them living here as I'm looking down over the mountains and coconut plantations.   We arrive in no time, and Makira is another world! A wildly world, mapped...

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