Radinal Latuconsina and Yohanes Makmur founders of Molucca Chocolate
Posted by Coleen L on February 03, 2016. 1 Comment
Two longtime friends, Radinal and Yohanes, started MOLUCCA with a vision to introduce rare origin chocolates to the US market.
The friends began their chocolate-making adventure in late 2013 after noticing that the New American Chocolate Movement was gaining a lot of momentum. Craft-chocolate makers were popping up all over the country and great chocolate bars were produced and consumed by the market that was ready for something other than ordinary sugar-loaded commercial chocolate products. As both of them were born and raised in Indonesia, it was only natural that they would use cacao beans from Indonesia to make their chocolate bars. They were surprised that they could not find raw cacao beans easily in the US from Indonesia, the third largest cocoa producer in the world. The closest they got was Papua New Guinea.
They saw that as an opportunity to re-introduce the US chocolate makers and consumers to Indonesian cacao beans. They contacted their partner in Indonesia and deployed boots on the ground to start the search for an exotic origin. Meanwhile in the US, they prepared for the logistics of the shipping and found the main reason why Indonesian beans are not readily available in the US. It was because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had imposed an import alert to all shipments of cacao beans from three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. The alert requires any raw cacao bean shipment to be detained at the port of arrival for sampling and testing, prior to the release of that shipment to the importer. The import alert states that, historically, the cacao shipments from Indonesia had a 96% violation rate where the beans were found to be heavily infested by live insects.
The friends could not find much references online about the true reason why the Indonesian beans were so badly germinated, other than the length of time the beans spent in the vessel during shipment, the humidity and heat inside the containers, and other details pertaining to the actual loading and unloading of the shipment. What about the bean itself? Their partner in Indonesia found the answer on the field –improperly fermented and dried beans. The farmers that they talked to are used to drying the harvested beans without fermenting them first. In Indonesia, the demand of cacao beans by the “Big Boys of Chocolate” is so high that the bean quality is not even in the equation. It’s about meeting the volume demand at the lowest price. The farmers do not really have incentive to ferment the beans as this step adds a lot of time to the process and there is the additional risk of not fermenting the beans properly. Besides, the price of fermented beans is not that high.
This is where MOLUCCA comes in. The friends find farmers who are willing to work with them, processing the beans properly as required – from fermentation to drying, all the way to storage and transportation. In return, the farmers are paid handsomely. Farmers are rewarded for their hard work in producing beans above the Fair Trade price by adding premium to the world market price. That’s MOLUCCA’s way of being socially responsible. This direct trade practice will allow the farmers to sustain their farming operations and better their families’ quality of life.