origin of cocoa

Terruá Tuerê

For a little over five years, the Brazilian NGO Solidaridad has educated and given technical support to small-scale rural farmers in the town of Novo Repartimento - Terruá Tuerê (from its indigenous name), in the state of Pará. During those first years, the quality of their work attracted big names in the world of Bean-to-Bar chocolate makers in Brazil. It was in Belém’s regional chocolate fair in 2019 that I met one of them, Bruno Lasevicius. Bruno’s chocolate won the vast majority of the awards.

It is difficult to appreciate the sheer size of the state of Parà, the state that is home to much of the Amazon River. Its area is equal to France, Germany, England and Portugal combined, all with a population no more than that of Belgium. It is logical, therefore, that this immense Brazilian state has abundant wealth and is home to unique climate conditions and terroirs. Yet, for the time being, it is the Tuerê terroir capturing all the attention.

Eight Brazilian producers were selected in 2021 as having Brazil’s finest cocoa, and were sent to the Salon de Paris to compete in the Cacao of Excellence competition. Four of them hail from the state of Pará and three of those from the region of Tuerê. This may have been the very first time that producers from the region took part in this national selection but, remarkably, they were ranked in 2nd, 4th and 6th place. Joao Evangelista made it to the last 50 finalists alongside Joao Tavares, the king of Brazilian cocoa, who has already won the title of best cocoa in the world two years in a row.

The Amazonian biome occupies about 40% of Brazil’s territory.
The Amazon rainforest is known as the home of the world’s greatest biodiversity, containing countless species of animals, plants and microorganisms. The soil in the Amazon rainforest is generally very sandy with a thin layer of nutrients that is formed from the decomposition of leaves, fruits and animals. This layer is rich in humus, a very important organic matter for certain plant species in the region. The climate is of humid equatorial type, which characterizes certain areas close to the equator with a temperature generally varying between 22°C and 28°C.

In the case of Tuerê, what will most define the quality of the beans is the impact of the Solidaridad NGO in the post-harvest process, bringing small rural producers the latest technologies to produce the best quality cocoa. After two decades of deforestation, the goal now is to demonstrate that growers can live well off what the Amazon rainforest has to offer, receiving fair pay for their work. Fine cocoa from Tuerê, the largest rural settlement in Latin America, sells for 2-4 times the price of common cocoa sold to the chocolate industry. This fair remuneration pushes cocoa producers to learn how to recover native vegetation through sustainable management.

In his modest sitio (smallholding), Joao Evangelista - also known as Rogerio - grows less than two tons of fine cocoa per year. Unlike larger farms where employees take care of all the production, here it is he himself who harvests, ferments and supervises the whole process. It is, therefore, with great honour, that we support this initiative that brings greater value to the producer and protects our environment, and that we can offer you the best chocolate produced from Joao Evangelista’s cocoa bean, so that with our modest participation, we can try to change how the cocoa game is played for the better.