Woodblock Chocolate is proud and humbled to be able to participate in this important collaboration with the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) in Trinidad! The Trinidad Fundare Bar is a fundraising project. 100% of the proceeds go towards the maintenance and general stewardship of the International Cocoa Gene Bank, Trinidad (ICG,T).
The Trinidad Fundare Bar costs $100.00 and you get a delicious 100g bar as well as a Certificate of Gratitude that is hand signed by the Director of the CRC Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan and me of Woodblock Chocolate. Yes, we sent a stack of them to Trinidad to be signed!
Why is the Trinidad Fundare Bar projest so important?
Because the future of fine chocolate depends upon the future of fine cacao...and preserving fine cacao requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work, with the contribution of many unsung heroes. That's why! First major issue: cacao seeds cannot be stored in a cold drawer on a shelf. Varietals must therefore be kept alive in a living collection that is cared for on a daily basis. The routine maintenance of the thousands of trees at the ICG,T is critical to the research efforts of the CRC which in turn benefits the global cocoa community. This research involves work on conservation, characterization, evaluation and utilization of the 2400 different cacao varieties (domesticated and Amazon wild types) housed in the collection. The crucial information gathered on this diverse collection is used to promote and assist sustainable, high quality cacao production around the world!
The ICG,T is a delicate and unique estate occupying about 100 acres of land. It is not a commercial estate and it does not have its own direct source of funding. It is physically maintained by a skeleton crew of 7 hard working, devoted people. The dollars generated by the Trinidad Fundare Bar will go directly to this living library of cocoa varietals and their caretakers, but the rippled benefits will be felt dynamically throughout the chocolate industry, from agricultural practices to your palate.
The Fundare bar project is the result of a collaboration between Woodblock Chocolate and the CRC, located at the University of The West Indies, St Augustine campus, Trinidad. The CRC has a long-standing illustrious association with the University of the West Indies, having started during the days of the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture as the Cocoa Research Unit. It is the longest-running, continuous cocoa research program in the world and has contributed enormously to the global cocoa community over the last 80 years.
The Fundare bar's chocolate is made from cacao beans harvested from many different varietals at the ICG,T. The cacao was harvested, fermented, dried, roasted and ground into liquor at the CRC's flavor lab with the assistance of Woodblock Chocolate's own Duncan Ellinwood! Duncan then casually muled the very suspicious vacuum-packed bricks of cocoa liquor back to the manufactory armed only with the letter below. It looked quite sketchy but Duncan whistled through with the precious load. We then added sugar, refined and conched the liquor into chocolate that we cast into bars.
This project was conceived in 2011 when I visited the CRC with my friend and favorite bean boy, Gino Dalla Gasperina. It was a pivotal trip for both of us.
The CRC, led by Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan very graciously responded to a cold call (a sort of vague request on my part) for a down-and-dirty submersion into cacao from bean quality assessment to fermentation techniques, to the culture and history surrounding cacao in Trinidad. Give us $500 worth, I said! (I thought that was a handsome sum! HA! We got a lot more than our money's worth!)
Gino and I went and had a couple of days in the classroom and a few days visiting some estates that included the ICG,T. It was wandering through the trees, each one with a small sign indicating its provenance, that was the seed of inspiration for this bar.
With the initial help of Darin Sukha, Naailah Ali, Matthew Escalante and Sarah Bharath, to name a few other key players, and slow but progressive effort on our part, here we are almost 5 years later and we have a limited number of 300 bars for sale! Please help us with this effort and help support the important part that the ICG,T is playing in the future of fine, sustainable cacao. Come to the Manufactory and get one in person, or help us online here!