Chocolate is made from cocoa (also called cacao) which is the fruit of the Theobroma Cacao tree. Cocoa grows only near the equator, and about 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from just two countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. When people talk about cocoa, these two countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are called West Africa.
Cocoa grows in an area of land around the equator between 20 degrees latitude north and south. Most cocoa even grows within 10 degrees of the equator.
Cocoa is farmed on plantations in rainforest areas threatened by climate change and deforestation. Cocoa pods are harvested by hand from cocoa trees using machetes – it’s very labour intensive; machine harvesting is not possible. Inside the harvested pods are cocoa (cacao) seeds from which chocolate can eventually be made.
Almost 70% of cocoa today is grown on small family farms in the rainforests of West Africa. There are about 8 million people who grow cocoa in West Africa, and most of them are women. There are about 1.8 million different farming households. The average age of a cocoa farmer is 56.
No. Chocolate depends upon West Africa. There are important problems in West Africa that can be solved, but to solve those problems many people must work together.
Yes to both questions! Chocolate is fun and a miracle food in many ways, but it’s also tangled up with tough issues. People who think about “doing the right thing” when they shop will probably want to know a few things about West Africa and cocoa certification.
Poverty and child labour. “Child labour is correctly seen as both a symptom and a self-perpetuating cause of the poverty that is faced by many cocoa farmers.” From “The International Cocoa Initiative, Strategy 2015-2020”.
Environmental degradation, like deforestation and issues caused by climate change.
Farming practices can be improved, communities can be developed, supply chains can be traced, gender equality can be promoted, and the natural environment can be stewarded.
Many players must continue acting together to solve complicated problems: governments, agencies, cocoa and chocolate manufacturing companies, food processing companies, retailers, and even consumers.
Cocoa certification is today a best practice for driving change — it is a surefooted step along a path leading to a sustainable cocoa future.
Because conditions are right today to solve the problems of West Africa – many players are committed to action right now.
Because it’s right and fair: businesses should hold themselves accountable, and West Africa’s cocoa economy was built to supply the developed world.
Almost 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, and that means there can be no global cocoa economy, and therefore no chocolate, as they are known today, without sustainable cocoa in West Africa.
No logo alone can solve the challenge of cocoa sustainability in West Africa, but certification is leading the way: certifying agencies have set standards, raised awareness, pressed for business accountability, focused attention upon supply chains, and delivered financial help to communities.
Certification today is a best practice because it drives demand and lets markets operate to force positive developments.
There are several certifying bodies – Rainforest Alliance, UTZ (now merged with Rainforest Alliance), and Fairtrade are the best known.
Certification standards vary between agencies but the effect of certification upon cocoa sustainability in West Africa is much the same among them — the agencies are allies in a common cause and critiquing differences makes little sense.
Attractive features of Rainforest Alliance Certification™ include: a focus upon environmental stewardship; standards that address labour conditions; market penetration in North America; certification standards that do not fix prices but that instead encourage markets to pay more for better quality products and processes; and, a good on-the-ground market share in West Africa.
The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is a coalition of independent nonprofit conservation organizations that promote the social and environmental sustainability of agricultural activities.
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Farms that meet the SAN’s comprehensive standards for sustainability, as well as POs* that comply with SAN and Rainforest Alliance policies, are eligible for a license to use the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal and/or make Rainforest Alliance Certified™ claims for products grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified Farms — Sustainable Agriculture Network and Rainforest Alliance (2015), Chain of Custody Standard.
(*A PO is any company, like Cococo, that applies for chain-of-custody certification.)
We would love to have a deeper conversation about cocoa sustainability with anyone who wants to find out more. As a matter of fact, as part of our Cocoa and Forests Initiative Action Plan, we have publicly stated that one of our action items is to educate as many people as we can about this issue. Please contact us at Info@CococoInc.com and we can arrange a phone call or an in-person meeting.
About Cococo Chocolate
Currently, Barry Callebaut AG makes our premium couverture chocolate to our own specifications, recipes and flavour profiles, using Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa and cocoa butter.
Though our name and Barry Callebaut's are similar, we are otherwise completely unrelated.
Barry Callebaut AG is one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers and makes hundreds of varieties of chocolate for general consumers all the way up to pastry chefs and professional chocolatiers like us.
Barry Callebaut is not a person; the company name results from the merger of two European chocolate makers: Cacao Barry and Callebaut Chocolate in the mid 1970s.
Product and nutritional information for their chocolate products can be sourced directly from Barry Callebaut AG. Contact information can be found online at www.Barry-Callebaut.com.
You can only find our Cococo / Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut® branded chocolate in our retail stores and on our website. We do not sell our chocolate in grocery stores or bulk stores.
Simply put, couverture chocolate is the best quality chocolate, the type of chocolate that professional pastry chefs and artisan chocolatiers use. Couverture contains extra added cocoa butter (32-39%) as well as a higher percentage of cocoa solids than regular “consumer grade” chocolate.
Couverture chocolate is used by professional pastry chefs and chocolatiers for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing because, once properly tempered, it has more sheen, a firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy, mellow flavour with a smooth mouth-feel. Because it contains added cocoa butter, couverture needs to be tempered in order to used in confectionery.
Cocoa butter is amazing because it is the only vegetable fat that is solid at room temperature but liquid at body temperature, which is the reason why real chocolate literally melts in your mouth (and your oven).
The company Barry Callebaut AG makes many different grades of chocolate for their customers all around the world. Callebaut chocolate products sold at retailers such as Superstore, Whole Foods and Safeway (whether pre-packaged or found in bulk bins) are a consumer-grade quality of product and is not Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut® brand premium chocolate. Consumer-grade chocolate It is not usually couverture-quality chocolate unless stated on the packaging so it may perform differently in recipes. Product and nutritional information for Callebaut chocolate products can be sourced directly from Barry Callebaut AG. Contact information can be found online at www.barry-callebaut.com
For the chocolate to be official "Belgian Chocolate", it must be mixed, refined, conched and molded in Belgium. Our chocolate is manufactured to our own unique proprietary recipes in Belgium.
Our Semisweet, Milk, White, and Ruby Cacao chocolate can be officially called Belgian Chocolate.
Because we don’t use artificial preservatives in any of our chocolates or chocolate products, it’s best to enjoy them as soon as possible after purchase.
Our chocolates will maintain their freshness best if stored in your refrigerator. We recommend removing chocolates from the fridge at least 20 minutes before enjoying them, to bring them up to room temperature. If you desire, you can freeze your chocolates in a sealed chocolate bag for up to 3 months. Our solid chocolate is more stable and will keep up to 12 months or more in a cool, dry location.
Unfortunately, due to our food safety and occupational health & safety procedures, we are not currently allowing tours or guests into our factory.
About Our Ingredients
We use organic ingredients in many of our chocolate fillings. We also use local suppliers whenever possible.
No. All of our chocolates and chocolate products are made with simple natural ingredients, fresh cream and dairy, and no artificial preservatives, ever. This is why special care must be taken to store our chocolates.
No, our solid bulk chocolate not does contain soy lecithin, which is an allergen for many people.
Our solid bulk chocolate does contain non-gmo sunflower lecithin. Because our chocolate is couverture it contains a high percentage of added cocoa butter. Sunflower lecithin helps keep the cocoa solids and the cocoa butter together, allowing for a more workable consistency particularly in regards to tempering and moulding.
However, some of our individual chocolates do contain soy due to their coloured cocoa butter decorations. Please refer to Cococo’s Food Allergens and Sensitivity List for detailed information.
They are the same thing. Cocoa liquor (which does NOT contain alcohol) is also called cocoa mass, cocoa paste, cocoa solids, or unsweetened chocolate. On our ingredient labels, we have chosen to use the term "cocoa mass". The term “cocoa liquor” is more commonly used in the United States and “cocoa mass” is more commonly used in Canada and Europe.
Cocoa mass is a thick, dark brown paste derived from grinding dried, fermented, roasted whole cocoa beans or small pieces of cocoa beans called "nibs".
Cocoa butter is also extracted from cocoa beans.
Dutch processed cocoa (also known as Dutch cocoa or alkalized cocoa) is cocoa solids that have been treated with an alkalizing agent ( to reduce the natural acidity of cocoa, giving it a less bitter taste, a darker colour, and is easier to mix with liquids.
Our solid bulk chocolate does not contain gluten, but we make all of our confections in our Calgary chocolate factory using common equipment.
Any of our products may contain traces of peanuts, tree nuts, soy, gluten, milk, or eggs. We do not currently guarantee that any particular product is 100% nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, or milk-free, even if an allergen is not actually part of the product’s recipe.
Even though we follow strict food safety protocols and clean our equipment daily, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you have a serious allergy or intolerance to one of these we suggest that you not consume our products.
At Cococo we take food safety and regulatory compliance very seriously. It is our top priority to ensure all our products are safe for consumption and of the highest possible quality. This includes ensuring our chocolates do not contain high levels of heavy metals, like cadmium and lead. Based on testing, we can assure you that our products are safe.
We are currently using various sugars in all of our chocolates and therefore none of our chocolate products are sugarless.
Developing sugar-free products has long been of interest to us, but so far we have not found a natural, sugar-free substitute that does not adversely affect the flavour of our recipes. The most common sugar replacement these days is maltitol, a sugar alcohol, which can cause a laxative effect.