Ambanja, Madagascar


In Madagascar’a hot, dry climate, beans spread on concrete dry quickly under the sun.

madagascarSource: Bejofo Estate

Region: Sambirano Valley

Country: Madagascar

Source Type: Privately owned estate and fermentary

Beans Source: Grown on estate

Fermentation Style: 4-tier boxes, fermented for ~6 days

Drying Style: Drying decks on rails & sun drying patios

Cultivation Notes: Large-estate, some old trees, intercropped

Certifications: Organic, Fair for Life

Exporter: Bejofo Estate

Importer: Dandelion Chocolate

Tasting Notes: Bright fruit and citrus

Start of working relationship: 2011

Last Visit: Nov 2015 by Greg

Tonnes Purchased in 2016: 12.7 MT

Purchased TOTAL (lifetime): ~64 MT

The first full container of beans that Dandelion Chocolate purchased came from Bertil Akesson’s Bejofo Estate in Ambanja, Madagascar. The Estate has been growing cacao since 1920 and we bought our first container of these beans in 2012. We’ve been buying consistently ever since and for the first time in 2017, we finally purchased two containers (around 25 tonnes) from his estate.

Akesson’s 600 hectare Bejofo Estate, has trees that are up to 80 years old, and it is the largest single estate that we work with. Bertil’s operation is smooth and consistent. Every morning during harvest season, farmworkers cut down about 400 or so ripe pods each, crack them open, and move them quickly into fermentation boxes where they stay for six days. Fermenting them immediately after harvest is a crucial piece of quality control and Bertil focuses on ensuring this happens within hours. Once fermented the beans dry briefly in full sun on cement patios before being moved to elevated drying decks to slowly finish drying. While it’s hard to know for certain, we believe this drying process is partially responsible for the flavor of the beans.

We are proud to work with Bertil both because we love his beans and because we believe that he has paved the way for much of the development of specialty cacao that has happened in the last few years. The flavor of his beans change slightly every year but always have bright fruit and punchy acidity. The bar that we create from his beans has become one of our customers’ favorites. It tastes nothing like what most people think of as chocolate. When Bertil started producing these beans, most makers were looking for something that tasted like, well, chocolate. Bertil broke the mold and produced something that was intriguing and intensely different. Many new chocolate makers use these beans because they inevitably yield a distinct, attention-grabbing bar. Once cacao producers saw that there was a market for uniquely flavored cacao, the floodgates opened and producers started creating new and interesting flavors. Someone had to take the risk to try this and Bertil was the person to do it.

We are excited to continue our relationship with Bertil and make some of our most distinct chocolate with his beans. He has started work on a variety of projects in other countries beyond Madagascar and we are eager to see what the future holds for Bertil and his impact on the cocoa industry.

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