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Good Cacao Beans = Good Chocolate

Good Cacao Beans = Good Chocolate

Hello and good day!

I'm lucky enough to be able to chat with a lot of people face to face in our chocolate shops. In particular, I find myself talking to a lot of parents with young kids. By young, I mean in the 5 -12 range.

When you have a huge sign in your window that says "Free Hot Chocolate" you get a lot of kids badgering their parents to come in. Over and over again, I hear parents worrying that their kids are growing up spoiled.

And the genesis of this worry appears to be how much time kids are spending looking at screens. Because they are addicted to screens, they don't want to spend time doing real, hard work. They just want to sit in front of the screen and consume images. I tend to agree with this analysis and I share the concern.

I have young kids too and like most parents I want what is best for them. I've learned over the years that doing work you are proud of is one of the keys to a happy life.

Good work that you are proud of takes hard work and patience. It takes consistent effort over a long period of time. These elements are just about the opposite of what looking at a screen does for you.

Here is some food for thought.

Having a screen in our pockets appears to be the culmination of a multi-decade movement towards becoming an entertainment culture. TV was the start of it. It is a screen too.

Instead of being out and about, interacting in the community, people started to stay indoors and consume content. It had a great homogenizing affect. Everybody in the country started watching the same shows and seeing the same information.

On a parallel track came industrialization. Massive amounts of cheap stuff with little work.

So now you have a screen bringing you in off the streets to sit and stare rather than talking to your neighbors and interacting with the real world. And you have all this low-quality cheap stuff all over the place. Food. Toys. Appliances. You name it.

Let me put a pin in that for a second. Here is just one part of what it takes to make good chocolate. You have to go out to a farm, a real farm, with real plants.

You have to use a sharp machete to cut down a pod from a tree.You have to crack open the pod and scrape the seeds into a bucket.

Here at Fortunato Chocolate, our team members squat down next to the bucket, on the farm floor, in the middle of suffocating, humid, jungle heat, with mosquitos flying around all over the place, and separate out any brown or rotting cacao from the bucket.

We take the rotting cacao and put it in a separate bucket so that we can sell it into the industrial supply chain. During the harvest season, this selection process will be done on several dozen farms per day and several dozen buckets per farm.

All the buckets are loaded into the bed of a pickup truck. After visiting farms all day, back in the processing facility, the buckets are taken out of the pick-up truck bed and dumped into big, plastic lined carts.

In the carts, our team goes through the cacao again and does another selection. Nobody else does two selections before the cacao even goes into the fermenter boxes. It is a very finnicky process created by a very finnicky person, my brother Brian.

The cacao stays in the fermenter boxes for 5-7 days and metrics are monitored closely. After 5-7 days, the cacao is laid out on raised beds to dry under the sun.

Out on the beds, the team does another selection, selecting out cacao that is flat or deformed. This cacao we can sell at a premium because it has gone through our post-harvest processing. The cacao that we are unwilling to use in our chocolate is considered premium cacao to other people.

This is just one tiny sliver of one step of what it takes to make good chocolate. And this applies to everything.Doing good engineering requires hard, detailed, patient work.

I have a friend who paints houses, and he charges higher rates than anybody else and is always booked solid. I asked him how he stays so busy and earns so well. He told me that he sands every square inch of surface before he starts painting. And as a result, his paint jobs are noticeably better than anybody else's.

People who want quality choose him.

Now back to the kids. The big problem with screens and industrialization is that youngsters are unaware of the real effort it takes to make something great.

When you grow up carrying an entertainment robot in your pocket, eating mass produced food, and playing with cheap plastic toys, you are being raised without an understanding of quality.

You aren't used to experiencing really good stuff, nor do you know what it takes to produce something of high quality.

I have no answers for this one friends.Just pointing out the reality.

However, the good news is that each parent and each family decides for themselves. Nobody is obligated to jump onboard with a cultural trend just because it is the in thing.And if enough individuals start to act differently, trends and culture can change.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!