Vietnam 73% – 2018 Harvest
The Dak Lak province is in the central highlands of Vietnam. At 500m elevation, many farmers here grow coffee, pepper, or rice. Cacao was introduced here more recently, in the mid-2000s, as development groups saw agricultural potential there because it was not threatened by rising sea levels like the Mekong delta. It also offered an opportunity to alleviate poverty in indigenous minority groups in the area. Marou started to purchase Dak Lak beans in 2015. At this elevation in the mountains, the temperature decreases considerably during the night. Condensation and rain leave emerald green moss on the trunks of cacao trees. The temperature change makes consistent fermentation more challenging.
Cacao arrived in Vietnam in the late 19th century. It remained a small crop until about 15 years ago, when development organizations began encouraging the planting of seedlings in the Mekong Delta region. While this dramatically increased the amount of cacao grown in Vietnam, it still remains a tiny share of Vietnam’s agriculture compared to its massive rice, cashew, and coffee industries.
Our approach to creating our chocolate is very similar to the process of making wine. We only use natural ingredients with no fillers (such as cacao butter, artificial flavors, synthetic emulsifiers, etc.) to let each variety show its unique character. Single origin chocolate is chocolate that’s made from one variety of cacao harvested in one region. Why does this matter? Cacao is a plant. Like other plants, its beans take on the characteristics of the region where it’s grown—its terroir. Many terms used to describe single origin chocolate will be familiar to wine lovers—earthy, floral, herbal and berry, to name a few. When cacao is blended, the effect of terroir is lost just like wines.
We taste an earthy base notes, which leads to a sharp divide between the solid grounded base notes and the airy lightness of riped pineapple. This allows for a great degree of balance while providing an interesting combination of ripe pineapple and intense chocolate brownie batter notes.
All of our single-origin chocolate is made with just cacao beans and organic unrefined sugar; no added cacao butter, lecithin, or vanilla. Our chocolate is free of soy, dairy, eggs, and gluten, and it is made in a factory that does not process dairy or nuts.