Ghana Cacao and Chocolate

57 Chocolate made in Ghana

Connecting the dots to Ghana...

Sometimes I come across a topic over and over again in a short amount of time.  This time it is Ghana.  I'm not sure why, but for some reason I've got Ghana on the mind so let's connect the dots to see where these chocolate and cacao tidbits go.

Cacao or Cocoa?

Did you know that in Ghana cacao is referred to as cocoa?  Cocoa or cacao, to me interchangeable words meaning the same thing, however each region seems to have a distinct preference.  In Ghana it is called cocoa and it seems I'm hearing more about cocoa and cocoa farmers in Ghana these days.

A day in the life of a Ghana cocoa farmer

I learned that little tidbit about cocoa vs cacao from Lauren Adler.  Lauren is the Founder and Chief Chocophile of Chocolopolis, a retail and online chocolate shop in Seattle.  She and I are also co-founders of the PNW Chocolate Society.  Lauren visited cocoa farming communities in Ghana this summer and came back with stories she presented as "A day in the life of a Ghana Cacao Farmer" to the Society.  Listening to her vivid stories, viewing her photos, hearing about the current challenges of the farmers in Ghana and how things have changed over the years gave me a much better vision of the cocoa scene there.  If you can spare the time read her three short blog posts about her travels to Ghana, she is a gifted writer and presenter that makes you feel as if you are traveling on location right beside her.

American Craft Single Origin Ghana Chocolate

Ghana typically isn't thought of as a producer of "fine flavor cacao".  The country ranks number two in terms of world cocoa production and much of their cocoa is exported to for use in bulk chocolate.  
Most of the time I focus on flavors from craft/artisan/small-batch chocolate so Ghana cacao doesn't seem to fit into my typical tastings or conversations, but if you watch closely you'll see that some very talented craft chocolate makers are coming out with fantastic Ghana origin bars.

Fresco Chocolate Ghana Origin

Fresco Chocolate is one of the most recent American craft chocolate makers to come out with a single origin Ghana bar.  You can bet they've done their homework, test roasts, as well as consumer panel testing before they launch a bar.  The people behind Fresco won't launch anything that isn't carefully and skillfully made.

My tasting notes:
Fresco Ghana 100% Recipe 235: Aromas are earthy and woody at the same time. The flavor reminds me of cocoa bean flavors, earthy and fudge but this one has a nice bright kick right before the finish.

Fresco Ghana 68% Recipe 261:  This one starts sweet then has an earthy note.  It REALLY reminds me of fudge my mom would make at Christmas every year.  I love it when a new chocolate brings back old memories.

Fresco Chocolate  Recipe 235 (top) and 261(bottom)

Podcast interview on cacao in Ghana

Lauren Heineck, producer of the podcast Well Tempered, recently recorded a wonderfully candid interview with Dr. Kristy Leissle (aka Dr. Chocolate), author of the book Cocoa, who is now living in Ghana. Their conversation covers pieces of history, politics, economics, and current conditions that all have an influence on cacao farmers in Ghana.  I highly recommend listening.


If you read Lauren Adler's blog posts about Ghana or listen to the Well Tempered interview with Kristy Leissle you'll hear about COCOBOD, the Ghana Cocoa Board.  Their site is a wealth of information, check out their Market Statistics for annual cocoa purchases and cocoa bean export by destination.

Craft chocolate made in in Ghana

Adding value to the raw product by converting cocoa beans into chocolate is rarely done in Ghana.  Although not widely available outside of Ghana (unless you happen to have friends who have recently traveled to that area) there is one bean to bar small batch craft chocolate maker in Ghana. 57 Chocolate, started by two sisters, Kimberly and Pricsilla Addison, who aim to empower the youth of Ghana to be creative and bring manufacturing back to Ghana.  The company name 57 reflects the year 1957, the year Ghana gained independence.

57 Chocolate Toasted Coconut and Dark Chocolate Bar
57 Chocolate Dark 73% Cocoa with Toasted Coconut: Super thick, long shavings of dense toasted coconut are embedded in the chocolate of this bar.  It is so hearty that I could eat this bar as a meal. The chocolate alone has notes of breakfast cereal and fruity marshmallows without being as sweet as either of those things. Together the chocolate and coconut work so very well.

I'm not sure how Ghana came to mind, its not surprising considering how much I think about chocolate. I'm actually pretty happy about the rabbit hole to Ghana I dove down to learn and taste.  After all who wouldn't be happy with a bit of geography, history, travel reports, and honest talk giving us a chance to learn more about  people and parts of our world that are far away showing us how chocolate seems to bring us all just a little closer.

If you happen to be visiting a chocolate festival this fall let's connect.  I'll be traveling to a few and would love to connect over chocolate.

Let's break chocolate together soon,



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