How Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier started Mutari Chocolate
Katy Oursler and Stephen Beaumier of Mutari Chocolate are folks who love food, and came to love and appreciate cacao as a singular ingredient. Hailing from the hospitality industry, they found cacao to be the most challenging ingredient they have ever used. They have been grinding it out in some of the country's and world’s best kitchens, and helping to form food movements that have transformed and shaped the way they look at how food is grown and produced in this country.
Stephen, the chocolate maker, has no formal training; just an unending quest for unattainable perfection through repetition and dedication to his craft. He taught himself, through trial and error, how to make chocolate. He would constantly reach out to his culinary community for feedback. Stephen and Katy are determined to treat the cacao farmers with respect and integrity while helping them become sustainable and profitable.
They both found the same mindset with cacao. The first moment that they visited an origin in the jungles of Guatemala near Coban and saw what the cacao farmers actually had to do to ensure that the quality of the cacao is of the highest blew their minds.
Watching the men, women and teenagers harvest pods, cracking them for hours and finishing the day humping all the seeds in 150-pound sacks of wet cacao through the jungle to the fermentation beds was an incredible sight for them. It was right then that they knew they needed to apply how they have been living in their own lives in the United States to this new (to them at least) budding industry.
They constantly ask themselves these questions: “Is there a way that we can help the farmers become self sustaining? Can Mutari Chocolate become a player for change? Can Mutari Chocolate help in removing cacao from the commodity market?” They are honestly not sure.
It's the small steps towards the goal that they are hoping Mutari Chocolate can move outside the boundaries and limitations of a small business and utilize technology, as well as a fair and balanced-for-profit model to make a difference in the global market-place. The large-scale chocolate industry is opaque at best in its transparency and it is up to the community and the players and consumers who support it to help change that. Mutari Chocolate is striving to become one of those players and it hopes to support what is right for these farmers to get what they deserve.