Origin Chocolate is pleased to offer our first chocolate made with cacao from India.
The Anamalai farm is one of many Indian farms that have been in the same family for generations. Located near the southernmost foothills of India’s Western Ghats, it was originally a eucalyptus grove. Later it was filled with Guava trees. Then it was turned into a coconut farm. In fact the wild elephants of the region (“Anamalai” is Tamil for “Elephant Hills”) will often sneak onto the farm at night and help themselves to the palm fronds located on the coconut trees, which they use to smack away mosquitoes and other insects from their backs!
If the farm’s current owners, Harish Manoj and Karthi Palaniswamy, were typical farmers, this is probably where their story would have ended. Their region is famous in India for its high quality coconuts, and they didn’t really need to plant anything else. Nevertheless, about 10 years ago they decided to plant cacao trees among their coconuts and nutmeg. Which was a bit of a bold choice, because cacao is not even native to India. It was actually introduced into India after WWII by the British confectionary giant Cadbury, and to this day most of the cacao grown there goes back to Cadbury. Relative to its size India produces a really small amount of cacao, less than 0.3% of the world supply, and most of that is mediocre at best.
But like a small but growing number of farmers in India, Harish and Karthi were interested in producing fine flavor cacao. So several years ago they began consulting with Dan O’Doherty of Cacao Services in regard to the best methods of proper fermentation, drying, pruning, etc. (As you may recall, Dan also helped Robin Jordan of Ucayali River Cacao in Peru.) Introducing these "best practices" was not easy, but the work really paid off for Harish and Karthi, who are now producing some of the finest cacao in India.
It is only in the last few months that the very first shipments of this cacao have finally made their way to America. It is a beautiful bean that produces chocolate with flavor notes of bright citrus, persimmon and tree nuts. As far as we know, it is the only fine flavor Indian cacao available in the United States, and we are thrilled to finally be able to share it with you!