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Love Byron Bay creperie and chocolate boutique is dedicated to sourcing, creating and sharing a quality chocolate experience from Byron Bay, Australia. We'll cultivate your understanding of cocoa, stimulate the palate with a discerning appreciation, fire the imagination with unique chocolate encounters and share the passion for this legendary food of the gods. Exceptional chocolate infused with delicious flavours, irresistible aromatic characteristics and high quality cocoa. 


Choc Recipes, Choc Facts, Choc Travels and our regular Chocoholic-not-so-Anonymous feature. All this and more in our weekly blog.

Filtering by Tag: taza

Chocoholic not-so-anomymous #13

Alison Campbell

 My name is Kalki.
I am a chocoholic.


Are you inordinately fond of chocolate? 
Yesh C: 

Chocolate. Incentive or reward? Or both? 
I use chocolate as an incentive to eat more chocolate.
Then I reward myself with some more chocolate.

When did you know you were a chocoholic?
When my mum first gave me a TimTam.
From then on I had to have one TimTam in each hand, and the packet under my arm.

White, milk or dark?
I like my chocolate how I like my comedy. Dark.

Describe your favourite chocolate in three words.... 
Melted, mildly alcoholic.

Tell us about your most memorable chocolate experience?
When I was 6 we moved to India. India has bad chocolate.
After a year of living there my Nanna sent me a bar of MnM chocolate for my birthday.
After a year of crappy crumbling Hindustani Cadbury, it was like reaching spiritual enlightenment.

Where is your favourite place to indulge your choc-habit?
In front of the fridge at 11pm.

Secretly solo or shared indulgence?

Top choice-choc destination?
Monty's in Brisbane.

Favourite product in the Love Byron Bay chocolate range?
The Mexican stone ground chocolate. (Ed- Taza).
It makes the yummiest hot chocolate everr.

Kalki Vasudevhari Gleeson currently waiting tables
at Flock Espresso and Eats in Lismore.


Choc News : Can craft chocolate turn the tide on Haiti's devastating deforestation?

Alison Campbell

When a tiny Quebec chocolate maker won a gold prize at this year’s premier International Chocolate Awards for a bar made with Haitian cocoa beans, it rocked the specialty chocolate world. The cocoa beans had been on the market for less than a year, and a Haitian chocolate bar had never before received the award.


Haiti produces less than 1 percent of the world’s cocoa. But today, cocoa industry players are aiming to put the Caribbean nation on the craft quality chocolate map, while providing some of the world’s poorest farmers with a better life and stemming the forces that have left Haiti a near moonscape. Stunningly 98 percent deforested, Haiti is an environmental mess, vulnerable to devastating floods and mudslides.

Efforts to connect poor cocoa farmers in Haiti to consumers willing to pay upwards of US$8 for a single chocolate bar are part of a much broader movement within the development community to combat global poverty and protect natural resources through access to such specialty markets.

But can these efforts make a difference in tackling some of the key drivers of environmental degradation? And can they do it at a scale that actually transforms struggling rural economies?

Reforesting Haiti With Tree Crops

Grinding poverty is a root cause for Haiti’s deforestation. Per capita income was just US$828 in 2015, and two-thirds of Haitians are subsistence farmers. The vast majority cook their food with wood charcoal. Charcoal production fuels deforestation, which leads to soil erosion, loss of productive agricultural land and a vicious cycle of poverty.

An estimated 50 percent of Haitian topsoil has washed away, destroying Haiti’s farmland and contributing to crop losses that reached 70% in some places in the face of extreme drought this year.

Cocoa is a tree crop that grows well in agroforestry systems, which is why Ralph Denize of FOMIN (Multilateral Investment Fund) says, “Cocoa is one of the best crops you can use for reforesting the country.”

“As long as the market is stable and farmers can depend on it, those trees will be in the ground for at least 40 years,” adds Emily Stone, founder of Uncommon Cacao.

Currently, some 20,000 smallholder farmers harvest cocoa as a cash crop in what they call “creole gardens” in two regions of Haiti. But, “garden” is a misnomer, because these dense tangles of vegetation, averaging an acre (half a hectare) in size, form mini-forests. Larger coconut, breadfruit, mango and avocado trees tower over and offer shade to the smaller cocoa trees, as well as food for the farmers and habitat for birds and other animals.

Cocoa farms are in fact one of the few places in Haiti with standing trees, according to Patrick Dessources from Root Capital, which finances small agricultural businesses and is partnering with FOMIN and other groups to rebuild Haiti’s cocoa industry.

Haiti currently exports 4,000 metric tons (4,400 tons) of cocoa per year, a big drop from its peak of 20,000 metric tons (22,000 tons) in the 1960s and far less than neighboring Dominican Republic, which exported 70,000 metric tons (77,000 tons) in 2014.

Revitalizing Haiti’s Cocoa Sector

Revitalizing Haiti’s cocoa industry can help reforest the country, but key to that revitalization is building capacity for producing the high-quality fermented cocoa beans that are used by specialty and dark chocolate manufacturers, like Palette de Bine, the award winner. Those beans fetch higher prices that help farmers live better.

As Denize puts it, “moving from unfermented to fermented cocoa is about keeping the value added in the country.”

Currently, more than 90 percent of Haiti’s cocoa beans are sold and exported in their raw, unprocessed state for mass-produced chocolate because farmers have few options for fermenting their beans. Currently there are only three fermentation facilities in the country.

One of those facilities is operated by Product de Iles S.A. or PISA, which produced the fermented beans for Palette de Bine’s winning chocolate bar. PISA sources cocoa beans from 1,500 small, family-run farms spread across the foothills of the Massif de Nord mountain range.

PISA pays farmers double the price they would receive for raw beans. That motivates them to protect their trees from the charcoal market. Pierre Daniel Phelizor, for example, a cocoa farmer of 15 years, says he’s “doing real business” with his trees now that he sells to PISA. What’s more, Phelizor runs a small nursery, selling cocoa, breadnut and mango trees to other cocoa farmers.

One of PISA’s main buyers is Taza Chocolate. The first U.S. specialty chocolate maker to enter Haiti, it did so not out of altruism, but for the quality of Haitian cocoa. “We know we have a good product — ancient variety, good terroir, organic by default,” says Taza’s sourcing manager, Jesse Last. “People will fall in love with the taste, and we hope that Haiti will benefit as it gains recognition as a source for fine-quality cacao.” Taza is partnering with Whole Foods to market the bar, which it began producing this year.

Expanding the Market

PISA needs more buyers like Taza to grow its business and expand its environmental and social impact. Gilbert Gonzales, the Haitian entrepreneur who founded PISA four years ago as a subsidiary of the Haitian agro-industrial corporation REBO, estimates that PISA’s exports will reach 160 metric tons (176 tons) this year, a sliver of the country’s capacity.

Stone, who introduced Palette de Bine to PISA’s high quality cocoa beans, says that is already starting to happen.

“We’re in conversation with much larger chocolate makers that might not be at the Hershey’s level, but they have significantly more buying power than craft chocolate makers,” she says. Dandelion Chocolate, Raaka Chocolate and Valrhona Chocolate are a few.

Globally, the specialty chocolate market accounts for less than 1 percent of the estimated US$98.3 billion chocolate industry, according to Stone. Tiny, but growing. Uncommon Cacao, for example, has grown from selling 6 metric tons (7 tons) from one country in 2011 to over 200 metric tons (220 tons) from five countries in 2016, and from just two buyers in 2011 to over 90 in 2016.

Longer term, carbon markets may help expand agroforestry systems for cocoa in Haiti, says Elizabeth Teague at Root Capital. The Livelihoods Carbon Fund, for example, raises capital from investors who earn returns via carbon credits through the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism or Verified Carbon Standard.

The fund is helping to finance a major reforestation project in Guatemala that aims to plant 5 million trees — citrus, coffee, cardamom and cocoa among them — over 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres). The project aims to sequester 2 million metric tons (2.2 million tons) of carbon dioxide and provide sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farmers.

Pur Projet in Peru offers another model. Started in 2008 by one of the founders of Alter Eco, the initiative is working to restore one of the most deforested regions of Peru in the heart of the Andean Amazon. Nearly 10,000 small-scale coffee and cocoa farmers spread across 21 communities are involved in the project, which has now reforested close to 1 million acres (close to 400,000 hectares) — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Pur Projet is verified by both Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance standards for the carbon offset market. Project partners are in the process of registering close to 5 million acres (2 million hectares) of land, including both the reforested area and surrounding forest, as a Biosphere Reserve at UNESCO World Heritage. Registering the land with UNESCO will help protect the forest from development pressures and ensure that it remains a carbon sink.

Currently there are few such initiatives, says Teague, because “carbon markets are seen as unreliable.” However, several major land restoration initiatives that view agroforestry as a prime solution have been gaining traction since COP 21. Initiative 20x20, for example, aims to reforest 20 million hectares (50 million acres) of degraded land in Latin America by 2020, and is a looking at agroforestry as one key approach.

Stopping Deforestation in Haiti 

But rebuilding Haiti’s cocoa industry won’t be enough to stop deforestation. Haitians need access to alternative, affordable fuel sources, such as propane or solar stoves.

Juan Mejia, co-director of Death of a Thousand Cuts, a 2016 documentary on a brutal murder related to Haiti’s charcoal trade, says that’s the approach the government of the Dominican Republic took in the 1960s and ’70s, and Haiti could do the same thing. But, he says, “the government needs to be brought into a comprehensive plan. It can’t be a bunch of aid groups working separately.”

Ultimately, Haitians need economic opportunities. “No one wants to do the charcoal trade,” says Mejia. “It’s grueling work and for very little pay. People will tell you, ‘It’s what you do so as not to steal.’”

Rebuilding Haiti’s cocoa sector, and more broadly its agricultural capacity, can help provide those economic opportunities while also benefiting the environment.

“I’m a believer that meaningful market access for sustainable cacao production across the board can change economies,” Stone says. “We’re seeing more and more markets and chocolate makers large and small reimagine how their cacao supply chains work and thinking more deeply about these questions.”
Writer: Meg Wilcox


Choc Facts: why bother going organic with your chocolate?

Alison Campbell

Who on earth cares about organic chocolate?


Chocolate is sort of an indulgence after all and not eaten in pounds per week like apples or tomatoes, so do I really need to worry about which chocolate I put into my body?

Cacao pods (a.k.a. cocoa pods) grow on trees found almost exclusively in the “cocoa belt,” a band 20 degrees north and south of the equator.   From these pods come beans that are fermented, dried, roasted, and transformed into that smooth, luscious solid we all know and love.

No one wants harmful pesticides in their food, but the benefits of organic chocolate go well beyond the obvious.  Cacao trees are usually found in lush rain forest environments that are homes to monkeys, sloths, wild birds and other unique creatures.  The use of pesticides endangers the rich biodiversity of these eco-systems.  If that’s not bad enough, some companies will clear cut the jungle first in order to plant cacao trees in neat rows – a procedure that is completely unnecessary to grow cacao.  The canopy trees that would normally form a natural habit for jungle animals is destroyed.


Not only are rain forest animals at risk from chemical exposure, but also humans – the plantation workers.   

In some cocoa growing regions such as West Africa, where most mass-market cocoa is grown, there are fewer controls on the safety of farm workers.   

When companies seek the lowest cost beans from the global commodity market, they are blind to the social issues connected to their chocolate. 

So how can you be sure you’re getting the organic stuff? 


It’s easy to pick out an organic chocolate bar from the crowd:  just look for an organic seal on the label.  

In Australia, organic certification is performed by several organisations that are accredited by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) under the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce. The big ones are NASAA Certified Organic  Australian Certified Organic (ACO)  and the Organic Food Chain

With so much excellent chocolate coming from Europe, you may see organic seals from France or Belgium. In the US, the USDA Organic Seal is well known. You can be confident that any of these seals is credible evidence that basic organic practices are followed.

Some have criticized organic labeling as a marketing ploy that only larger companies can afford since the certification and associated inspections cost money.  But  in our mind, organic certification leaves the details to the experts and hands us the answer in an easy to understand format.  That can’t be a bad thing.  

If you’re lucky enough to find an artisan making organic truffles, there’s a good chance that only some of the ingredients, say the chocolate shell, are organic.  Have a conversation with the proprietor and understand where their chocolate comes from.  Is it organic? Is it fair trade?  If you can find such a shop, you’ve got a gem since bulk organic chocolate used for making confections is in short supply.  That's where Love Byron Bay can help. Our website specialises in organic and fair trade chocolate, and all of the brands featured on this blog post are certified organic.

Does organic chocolate taste as good as “conventional” chocolate?

Yes, of course it does!  The flavour of the chocolate has to do with the variety of cacao, the diligence of the farmer and the skill of the chocolate maker.   Cacao farmers using pesticides and other chemicals can get more pods from their trees and improve profit, but this won’t help the flavour of the chocolate one bit.  In fact, organic chocolates are less likely to contain ingredients that have no place in high quality chocolate such as chemical additives or vegetable oils.  These ingredients only distract from the true flavor of the bean.


Assuming the bar is not flavoured with fruits or nuts, you should see at most four ingredients in a chocolate bar:  cocoa mass (or cocoa liqueur or cocoa solids), sugar, vanilla and soy lecithin.  That’s it.  So keep it simple – look for a simple ingredients list, look for organic certification and ask us for more information on the organic brands we carry in store. 




Choc Travel : Mexico

Alison Campbell

Historians disagree over where exactly in Mesoamerica cacao trees first appeared, but what they do agree on is that people first began to prepare cacao for human enjoyment in Mexico.

The most popular use of the cacao bean in pre-European Mexico was to produce a chocolate drink. To make the drink, producers fermented, toasted, and ground the cacao bean into a powder which provided the drink's base. Often, people used different spices such as chillies, anise seed, allspice, and vanilla to add flavour. 

Once the secret of chocolate got out, other places started cultivating it. Today more than 80% of cacao is grown in Africa and Indonesia. Less than 2% is grown in Mexico. But the vestiges of the cacao culture remain, and there's an effort to make the Yucatán the center of the chocolate world again.

Top Picks for Mexico Choc Travels

What better place to start your choc trip than the Yucatán Peninsula, a part of Mexico that's closer to Cuba than to Mexico City and is still home to the Maya, the people who made the world a happier place 2,500 years ago by cultivating cacao.

There are Maya ruins to explore, working sisal plantations from the 19th century, yellow-painted cities that shimmer under the tropical sun, coastal wetlands so dense with flamingos the water looks pink and park squares where costumed women dance with glasses of water on their heads. But mostly it's about the chocolate.

Next stop the MUCHO Museo del Chocolate ....a chocolate museum, cafe, and artisan chocolate factory located in the Roma District of Mexico City. The chocolate museum is housed in a beautiful historic house of 1909 in Colonia Juarez on the Milan street corner Rome. Its facade and interior were carefully restored, and the museum is the perfect blend of history and contemporary culture. Visitors can learn about how cacao or chocolate have impacted the local culture and economy. 


MUCHO Mundo Chocolate is the name of the brand of chocolate confections made at the artisan chocolate factory attached to the museum. The chocolate is made from cocoa beans from two regions: that of Tabasco, and Chiapas. Traditional Mexican chocolate is made using a blend of cacao beans mixed with vanilla beans, chili de arbol, (hot chilli peppers) and a touch of cinnamon and salt. This mixture is conched (mixed together) for 24-45 hours to get the desired consistency before it is made into chocolate bars.

Closer to home...Taza chocolate

Modern Mexican chocolate still retains many qualities of its predecessor. Makers still use some of the same spices as the Aztecs, as well as cinnamon and sugar to produce a chocolate with a unique flavor, texture, and aroma. It provides the base for hot chocolate beverages and serves as a key ingredient to several Mexican dishes such as Mole. Mexican chocolate is best recognized when sold in the form of small solid discs. The Spanish began the practice of storing chocolate in the shape of discs in the 1500s, and it continues to today.

Taza founder Alex Whitmore took his first bite of stone ground chocolate while traveling in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was so inspired by the rustic intensity that he decided to create a chocolate factory back home in the US. Alex apprenticed under a molinero in Oaxaca to learn how to hand-carve granite mill stones to make a new kind of American chocolate that is simply crafted, but seriously good. In 2005, he officially launched Taza with his wife, Kathleen Fulton.

Taza is a pioneer in ethical cacao sourcing. They were the first U.S. chocolate maker to establish a third-party certified Direct Trade Cacao Certification program. They maintain direct relationships with their cacao farmers and pay a premium above the Fair Trade price for their cacao. You can find their delicious chocolate discs available both in our Byron Bay boutique, and our online store. Bringing the taste of Mexico to you! Happy choc travels. :)

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Photo Credits: Austin Andrews, wordonthebird, John Muncie