Our chocolate is made by a 100+ year old manufacturer in Switzerland.
We buy and process cacao in Peru, ship it to Switzerland where we pay the manufacturer to make chocolate according to our specifications, and then we ship it to the United States to our warehouse in Issaquah, WA.
Our goal has always been to produce the highest quality product that we are capable of producing.
Along those lines, we have considered many other manufacturers over the years and have also considered buying our own machines and manufacturing our own chocolate.
Here in the US, there is a large movement of craft chocolate makers who make wonderful small batch, craft chocolate.
We have considered working with them and have tested samples from a number of them. It would make our lives enormously easier to have chocolate made here in the US.
We would cut out two multi-thousand mile voyages across the Atlantic ocean. First from Peru to Switzerland and then from Switzerland to the US. If we could bring cacao to the US, manufacture here, and then fulfill orders here, that would be amazing.
Another option we have considered is having chocolate made in Peru. There are quite a few chocolate manufacturers there whom we could hire to make our chocolate.
That would also make our lives much easier. And it would make our manufacturing costs lower as wage rates are so much lower in Peru than in Switzerland. It would also have the added benefit of adding more value in the country of source and leaving more profit in country.
There also has been the idea of building a manufacturing facility out in the jungle so that farmers themselves can make the chocolate.
But this would really be hard to do. There simply isn't the infrastructure out there. There are a lot of perishable ingredients that need to be refrigerated and there are a whole bunch of machines that need stable electricity.
So when it comes to manufacturing, we decided to make our decision based on quality above all else.
We are buying some of the best cacao in the world and investing heavily in proper post harvest processing - namely fermenting and drying. We pay huge premiums over world market price to the farmers.
And because of that, it is quite important that we also work with the best chocolate maker.
Our partner in Switzerland has been making chocolate for a long time and when we compare their product with samples we've received here in the US and in Peru, the difference in quality simply can't be ignored.
There is a lot to be said for trying to help producers of raw materials add value in country. But there is also a lot to be said for letting each member in the production chain specialize in what they do best.
Also, a big reason why farmers would want to do more value adding in country is that they simply aren't being paid well for their cacao.
In our case, that problem isn't as severe because we pay high prices.
Of course, there are many good entrepreneurs out in campo who I am sure could do much more than growing cacao and can think of amazing ways to add value.
And we will be more than happy to consider those proposals as they come along. But one thing we will not compromise on is quality, even if it means more work and paying higher prices for production.
Check out the video below. It is of a vintage machine that only the chocolate maker we work with uses. The name of the manufacturer is Max Felchlin, AG. This is a conche that was originally built in 1879.
It is heated by friction caused by the machine's movement. The modern version of this machine is a vertical cylinder that is flash heated in 6 hours by piping boiling hot water into a tray around the conche's base.
Our chocolate takes 60 hours to conche over low heat which protects, and enhances, the wonderful flavors of pure Nacional cacao.