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Cacao Beans from Madagascar: A Craft Chocolate Makers Favourite

Cacao Beans from Madagascar: A Craft Chocolate Makers Favourite

The cacao tree was introduced to Madagascar by the French Colonial Masters in the 19th century. 

The first plantations were established in Ampasimanolotra (French Brickaville) however, Madagascans soon realized that the northwest of the small island country was much better suited for growing cacao.

Lucien Millot founded the first large cacao plantation in Andzavibe in 1904 with plants imported from Java. This area, around the city of Ambanja, on the rivers Sambirano and Ramena, is still the primary growing region today.

Wild Mountain Chocolate sources Madagascar beans from the Akesson Plantation.

Akesson found his way to the region from Europe, owning a trading company which eventually led he and his family to settle in Madagascar in the 1970s taking over mining companies several plantations growing mainly sisal and other aromatic spices.

These properties included a neglected 2,300-hectare farm of cacao planted in the 1920s. It is this plantation that has become the primary source of fine cacao in Madagascar. 

The flavour profile of Akesson's Madagascar is typically citrus with red fruit, though it offers layers of notes and nuance, such as nut, toffee, and mild pepper, that make it interesting and intriguing. It could be argued that no other cacao is so widely used by small craft chocolate makers around the world.

The key seems to be in their refined fermentation technique. The beans are fermented in a three-tier cascade box setup and sun-dried on concrete patios or elevated drying beds.

One of the first farms to sell to a young and emerging craft chocolate movement worldwide, Akkeson's consistency has become a benchmark for defining fine, flavourful cacao.

In line with our own values pertaining to community and the environment, the Akkeson farm is certified “Fair for Life” by IMO: a single living organism where they work to provide a secure working and social habitat for employees.

For example, they have converted all of the estate to solar energy (GAÏA Alternative Energy) and redistribute half of the electricity generated to the village nearby where most of their employees live. 

They also provide land for their employees to promote self-sufficiency where they can grow food such as rice for themselves and their families.

Akkesons contributes additionally by building regional schools as well as gathering medical supplies, that would be otherwise expensive or unavailable locally, in Europe to redistribute them to employees in need on the plantation. 

Our growing relationship with Akkesons is so valuable to us and we feel fortunate to support not only such a consistent and quality producer, but socially conscious one as well.