Making a difference: A bean-to-bar chocolate maker
Driven by a strong social conscience and a desire to work alongside cacao farmers, this bean-to-bar maker in Marseilles perfectly illustrates the role that chocolate manufacturers play in transforming the cacao value chain. La Baleine à Cabosse has entrusted its sourcing and logistics activities to
The real taste of cacao
Claire and Aurélien were working on a coffee plantation in Colombia when they first discovered cacao. Claire didn’t like chocolate, and Aurélien was used to industrial white chocolate. But when they visited their neighbor’s cacao plantation, they noticed that the pods were all different colors. They were looking at distinct varieties of cacao! That’s when they learned how to make chocolate straight from the bean. Amazed by the real taste of cacao, they were determined to share this experience with as many people as possible.
BEAN-TO-BAR CHOCOLATE MAKERS
After spending six months living alongside cacao farmers and their families, Claire and Aurélien opened their own artisanal chocolate factory and school in Marseille. In 2017, only some 20 chocolate makers were working directly with cacao beans in France. Most manufacturers, even the artisans, were working with couverture chocolate.
Valuing different terroirs
Claire and Aurélien like to compare themselves to grape growers searching for different terroirs. They love discovering the human stories behind each bean. “Justine wears many hats,” says Aurélien. “First, she finds beans with a unique flavor and ensures that their cultivation is supported by human, social, and environmental projects. Second, she oversees the often-complex logistical side, making sure that these exceptional beans make it to our door.”
Having a positive impact
Since day one, 80% of Claire and Aurélien’s product line has been set in stone to honor their commitment to the cacao farmers. The rest are limited-edition chocolates, specially crafted to satisfy their clients’ need for novelty. Despite their humble beginnings, Claire and Aurélien dream of having a big impact. In 2021, they founded the Bean To Bar France association, which unites 20 or so chocolate makers dedicated to improving their ethical practices and overall impact. “We tell Justine that we want to know every person’s income across the supply chain,” says Aurélien. “Transparency and traceability are essential to understand how we can do better.”