For this month’s origin highlight, we want to introduce you to Semuliki Forest, Uganda. We currently stock a few exceptional bars made with beans from this origin, including the Fjak Uganda 70%, which recently won a bronze medal at the International Chocolate Awards World Finals.
Located in Bundibugyo, Western Uganda, Semuliki Forest cacao is processed and exported by Latitude Trade Co. (who also make delicious chocolate!) and distributed internationally by our friends at Uncommon Cacao. The beans are sourced from around 2,500 smallholder farmers, over half of whom are women. There are six rural collection points for farmers to access, where they sell fresh cacao weekly and receive cash at the point of sale. Currently the farmgate price for farmers is $2.32 (USD) per kg.
The beans are then fermented and dried to extremely high standards at Latitude Trade Co.’s facilities in the village of Bumate, at the base of the hills leading into the Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The site is perfectly designed to make the most of the sunshine hours, and to limit the amount of run-off from rainfall. Beans are fermented in 500kg boxes for 5-6 days, then sundried in raised racks for 6-7 days.
We’ve found these beans to be consistently exceptional, and they offer a truly versatile spectrum of potential flavours. Some chocolate makers transform them into bars with notes of cherry and fig, whilst some bring out lighter notes of peach and banana, and others roast more heavily and create a deeply chocolatey and nutty bar. Whatever the method, every chocolate we’ve tasted from these beans has been absolutely delightful.
It’s always fascinating to taste bars from two different makers that use the same beans. We highly recommend a side-by-side tasting of the Fjak Uganda 70% and the Standout Uganda 70%. As they’re both the same percentage of cacao, this will give you a really clear idea of how much chocolate makers can control the flavours they coax from the beans.
Photo and infographic courtesy of Uncommon Cacao.