Tanzanian cocoa has the potential to be among the best in the world; our genetics and terroir provide an opportunity for high quality beans. However, prior to Kokoa Kamili's operation, Tanzanian cocoa was sold to commodity exporters whose markets depend on volume, not quality. As such, farmers had no incentive to put in the time and effort to properly ferment and dry their beans, as they would not be rewarded for quality. This meant that Tanzanian cocoa had a poor reputation due to the post-harvest handling.
We saw this as a missed opportunity. We could raise the profile of Tanzanian cocoa, and command a higher price with a good quality, well fermented bean. Smallholder farmers could have the opportunity to increase their incomes and improve their living standards, and chocolate makers could have an exciting new origin.
At Kokoa Kamili we buy 'wet' cocoa, straight out of the farmers' pods, paying more than they would receive if they were to ferment and dry the beans themselves. This means that farmers get paid more, quicker, for less work. The time and effort spent fermenting and drying beans can now be spent tending their cocoa, working on their farms, starting a small business, or just enjoying a little down time. Life in a rural African village is hard, with household members engaged in hard physical labour from before dawn until after sunset - any extra time we can create can lead to extra income or a better quality of life.
We buy cocoa at farm gate, our factory, and through buying stations that we operate in nearby villages. Doing this frees up the time, expense, and effort that farmers take in accessing markets and we are can ensure only the best quality beans get to our fermentary. Contrary to many operations in Africa we only buy directly from farmers, without any agents/middlemen. By offering one well publicized price and using certified scales we are atypical in the local industry and fully transparent to farmers.
We ferment our beans in locally constructed banana leaf, and rice-bag lined boxes. We use a three-tier cascade box system with a six day ferment, with a partial over-night drain before hand, although we are constantly experimenting with different arrangements to ensure we are able to capture the best possible flavour. During fermentation we monitor the temperature so that we can be sure of a uniform, high quality process. All individual day lots are evaluated, and any beans that do not meet our standards are not approved for blending and export.
After fermentation, beans are removed for sun-drying on our custom made tables. Average drying time is 5-7 days and beans are constantly raked to ensure uniformity. After drying beans, are hand-graded so that only the best are bagged for export.
The majority of our customers are high-end chocolate makers and as such, spend a lot of time, effort, and money in recipe development. We understand the value of consistency within a shipment, so prior to every export, all beans that make the cut are blended so that the first bag in a container is exactly the same as the last.
At Kokoa Kamili we pride ourselves on our level of sophistication and science that goes into our operation; thus, we collect a whole host of data on each fermentation!