Female Empowerment in chocolate

Female Empowerment in chocolate

The average female cocoa farmer is paid as little as 23p per day despite the fact that in Africa where 60% of the worlds cocoa is grown, 68% of cocoa labour is carried out by women. Figures from the fair trade foundation state that women are paid less than one third of what their male counterparts receive.

At Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are in Direct trade with our farmers and we aim to pay them 3 times more than fair trade. Being in Direct trade with our farmers means we are in direct communication with them and not only pay them directly but also ensure that their farms are ethical and everyone is treated fairly.

Being a Female owned business, we do as much as possible to support our wonderful female farmers and do as much as we can to hope that they are improving their lifestyles and communities. From helping our female Colombian farmers; Carmen, Martha and Yanira, to our wonderful Farmers in Makira; Grace & team. We aim to get them all to the premium cocoa market for their fine quality cocoa and by being in direct trade we make sure that they are being paid and treated more than fairly!

Celebrate Cacao have written a lovely blog post about us as women in Chocolate for International women day you can find this below!

A story of female empowerment in the chocolate industry

 

Nottingham’s exciting developments at the Nottingham Partners lunch

Nottingham’s exciting developments at the Nottingham Partners lunch

Written by Seline Natour

Friday 10thJanuary saw the first Nottingham Partners lunch of 2020, where approximately 90 Nottingham based business owners enjoyed networking opportunities and speeches by Robert Dixon (interim Chief Executive at Marketing NG) at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena Spotlight Bar.

This was a wonderful opportunity to be involved in, as Luisa herself was able to take to the stage and introduce her “unique, award winning bean-to bar chocolate” business. This opportunity allowed for a brief education into chocolate which we encourage here at Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, in order for a broader understanding into why our chocolate is simply beyond measure. With over 600 taste nuances in chocolate, it is no wonder that we have our farmers to thank for producing such naturally flavourful beans that makes our chocolate!

Luisa was able to talk a bit more on our recent collaboration with the University of Nottingham’s Future Food Beacon and Innovate UK project in Colombia where we are all working together both science and chocolate to help our 3 female farmers; Martha, Yanira and Carmen to understand the science behind what makes a good crop, and in turn what makes the best chocolate- allowing them to reach the premium market for their cocoa.

Being a local independent business, we strive to work not only nationally, but most importantly- locally! The Partners lunch was a wonderful afternoon getting to know and meet more local business owners, especially as an opportunity to educate more on our recent collaborations and newest ranges!

photos by Dan Matthams Photography

courtesy of Visit Nottingham

University of Nottingham Winter Reception Launch

University of Nottingham Winter Reception Launch

On Tuesday 17th December, Luisa and the team attended the University of Nottingham Winter Reception held on campus. The event highlighted the incredible Colombia Cocoa project which Luisa has been working heavily alongside the Future Food Beacon- University of Nottingham’s plant science department to create a new range of incredible Colombian cocoa at a 66%. Whilst the university have been looking at the whole chemical breakdown and plant science developments to do with the fermentation process of the cocoa beans and their growth in general on our 3 Colombian farms, here at Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates, we have been formulating an incredibly fruity and spice note chocolate from our Colombian cacao in order to help our 3 female farmers reach the premium market for their cacao and in turn live a better lifestyle.

Since the launch of our Colombian chocolate, the responses have been incredible. Our customers have been loving the incredible taste notes that our Colombian chocolate releases. With wonderfully Cherry notes and spice undertones, our Colombian chocolate proves a perfect winter chocolate. At the Winter Reception, we heavily encouraged all guests to try all 3 chocolates from our 3 different farmers: Martha, Yanira and Carmen. Although all are from Colombia, all chocolates vary so differently in terms of prominence in flavour notes. Please read more on our project and the winter reception below!

https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/news/science-adds-flavour-to-unique-chocolate-made-in-nottingham

 

Exhibiting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Exhibiting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

“The opportunity to present my chocolate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been the highlight of my chocolate-making career to date” – Luisa’s chocolate adventure has finally been rewarded by such a prestigious organisation, with diplomats from the Foreign and Commonwealth office and Prosperity Fund, other experts in the field of chocolate, and the University of Nottingham paying tribute to her hard work and commitment to ethical, sustainable, award-winning chocolate, which is incredibly well-deserved.

If you’ve visited the shop and met Luisa, you’ll have heard about the exciting “science meets chocolate” project that sets Luisa apart even more from any other chocolate-maker in the UK. Knowing all her farmers by name, Luisa is committed to making a difference in the communities that supply her cacao, embarking on a “rewarding adventure” to ensure the 3 female farmers (Yanira, Martha and Carmen) that supply her Colombian cacao get a better-than-fair price for their high-quality beans. The higher the quality, the higher the price farmers must be paid, thus Luisa, alongside scientists from the University of Nottingham, travelled to Colombia to meet her farmers and investigate the science behind the mysterious fermentation process of cacao, to unlock the secrets about what exactly, on a microbiological level, goes on in the fermentation box that creates that high-quality bean we love the taste of!

After all, Luisa’s motto is “great beans make great chocolate!”, and the project aims to scientifically discover whatexactly makes a great bean! Using techniques such as DNA sequencing performed by the UON, we will then feedback our results to Yanira, Martha and Carmen so they can take on these instructions to fine-tune their technique and ensure they get better beans with each crop. This will allow them to enter the “super premium market” and therefore Luisa is helping them to be paid a better price for their cacao. Luisa already sticks by the principles of direct trade, cutting out the middleman, which allows her to pay farmers up to 3x more than ‘fair-trade’ price, which she has witnessed making the monumental difference between farmers sending their children to university or not.

Luisa recalls “it was such an exciting moment to be presented with 3 huge sacks of cocoa from the first crop”, after which she went through each bag to assess the quality of the beans matched her high standard, which is done by using a cut test and checking the colours inside the bean to ensure the fermentation process has been successful. After the cut test, Luisa then records the data; “there is so much science that takes place during the fermentation process, so to be able to work with the University of Nottingham on the fine flavour profile is cutting edge, excuse the pun!”. Then, “with careful attention, the perfected chocolate is hand tempered and filled into bars …heavenly”.

If you want to invest in a truly ethical, high quality product this Christmas, make it Luisa’s Vegan Chocolates. As more and more people are becoming more mindful about the products they use, there has never been a better time to pop down to her shop in Sneinton Market and become part of a wonderful network of like-minded people on a chocolate journey. If it’s good enough for the FCO, we’ll sure you’ll love it!

by Isabella Bedi

Chocolate in the name of Science- our Colombian cacao project with the University of Nottingham

Chocolate in the name of Science- our Colombian cacao project with the University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham have been keeping us updated on the plant science side of why our Colombian cocoa project is so important- aside from helping our female farmers to reach the premium market of course!

In the blog post attached, Lexi Earl goes into detail into why the fermentation and growing process of the cocoa is so important to create such fine quality beans. We then take these beans and have been formulating the perfect recipe for creating the perfect Colombian cocoa bar- which has been such a success since its launch date on the 18th October.

find out more on the plant science as well as how we are helping our 3 farmers from Colombia (Martha, Yanira and Carmen) in the link below.

http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/futurefood/2019/11/20/eating-chocolate-in-the-name-of-science/

 

Colombian Cacao Innovate UK Project

Colombian Cacao Innovate UK Project

As some of you may know, we have embarked on an extremely exciting project with the Innovate UK team and the University of Nottingham’s Plant Science department to help empower the female farmers out in Colombia to reach the premium market for their crops! In May we all went out to the farms in Colombia and met with our lovely farmers Carmen, Martha and Yanira to see their farms and meet them before engaging in this incredible journey. Our aim for the project is to improve the quality of crop for these farmers to help empower them to reach the premium market for their fine quality beans and therefore provide them with better means of business and living. We have produced our first batch of chocolates made straight from bean to bar here in our Nottingham Sneinton Market location.

On the 18th October we hosted our Colombian Tasting event to celebrate the launch of our Colombian cacao, our guests included customers, local businesses and the prosperity fund team from the Foreign office- Catherine Pye. The event was not only a great success in terms of educating our guests about the history and cultural importance of cocoa, but also in terms of having our guests love our chocolate so much that they bought their favourite farmer’s bars! due to the great success of our launch night which also included being sponsored by Belvoir drinks, we are now hoping to have another launch night with the Foreign office in London in December!

Colombia choc brief Prosperity Fund