Tackling poverty and empowering farmers by eating chocolate? If only my sociology/politics subjects at uni were this interesting!
L-R: Xocolatl chocolatiers, Chris and Tina, Esther Minta Ephraim and Fairtrade CEO, Molly Harriss Olson
From 2-18 May 2014 is Fairtrade Fortnight. As part of this, Big Fil, the Lawyer and I had the lucky opportunity to participate in a chocolate masterclass where cocoa farmer, Esther Mintah Ephraim, spoke to us about her life as a cocoa farmer and working with Fairtrade. Through her visit to Australia, Esther hopes that she can make Australians understand the importance of buying Fairtrade chocolate and how that helps bring a better future for her community.
Chocolate-based appetisers (with goats' cheese, figs and prosciutto)
Esther looks after 38 acres of cocoa farm and each year she harvests about 40-50 bags of cocoa. She is a member of the Kuapa Kokoo Fairtrade Cooperative in Ghana, which part owns and produces cocoa for Divine Fairtrade chocolate. Since partnering up with Fairtrade, Esther receives a fair wage for her cocoa.
Just some of the many beautiful chocolates at Xocolatl
Through the Fairtrade Premium, Esther’s community now has a hand-dug well, which has helped her village get potable drinking water that provides water even in the dry season and also prevents her community from getting waterborne diseases. It has also provided a mobile health clinic to give farmers and workers proper medical support and investment in training and education has helped farmers to improve the quality of their cocoa.
Esther spoke of how unusual it was to see her cocoa crop being turned into chocolate, as they tend to just eat the cocoa as is. And what better way to see cocoa be turned into chocolate than at Xocolatl.
Watching Tina, Esther and Chris prepare the chocolate
Xocolatl is family-run boutique chocolate shop and cafe in East Kew. Chocolatiers, Chris and his daughter, Tina, showed us how they prepare their decadent chocolates, which are made from Fairtrade chocolate. Chris and his family wanted to make sure their chocolates helped cocoa farmers, which is why, a few years ago, they decided to make the switch to using Fairtrade chocolate.
Having prepared the different components for the raspberry and hazelnut truffle and the coconut truffle, Chris and Tina got us involved in making the chocolates. Donning our aprons, and with our rather clumsy hands, we managed to fill the chocolate shells with the ganache, seal it with more chocolate, then dunk them in even more chocolate before rolling them in hazelnuts and coconut.
Raspberry and hazelnut truffles (bottom) and coconut truffles (top)
Despite our rather amateurish skills, we managed to create quite a few chocolates. Both chocolates were deliciously smooth and creamy; and we all loved the hit of raspberry liquer and Malibu!
During this Fairtrade fortnight, participate in #ThePowerOfYou and make a difference to the lives of farmers by purchasing products that carries the Fairtrade made. There are many Fairtrade products, including chocolate, tea, coffee and sugar. For more information head to: www.thepowerofyou.org.au.
For Mothers’ Day (it’s this Sunday!), treat your mum to a coffee and try some of the many beautiful chocolates at Xocolatl, including the ‘I heart Mum’ chocolate gift boxes.
Thank you to Fairtrade Australia, Esther Mintah Ephraim and Xocolatl for taking the time to share with us their work and how this can help cocoa farmers.