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Texas musician launches ethical chocolate brand with cocoa from Brazil

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Texas singer-songwriter Kate Robberson with her new Joaihú chocolate brand. Pic: Joaihú
Texas singer-songwriter Kate Robberson with her new Joaihú chocolate brand. Pic: Joaihú

Related tags: Cocoa, Cocoa bean, Chocolate, Sustainability, Brazil

Kate Robberson, who plays with world folk group Ley Line, has launched her own chocolate brand, Joaihú, a direct-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate from the old-growth rainforest in Bahia, Brazil.

The Austin native and singer-songwriter told ConfectioneryNews: “The story behind Joaihú is rich, much like the flavour it draws from the soil of the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest. It’s an honour to continue to build bridges between communities through sharing culture, art, and now chocolate.”

Robberson’s business partner and Joaihu’s Co-founder, Charles Stewart said they are explorers at heart and have each travelled the world pursuing their individual passions: biology, music, community building, language, herbal medicines, and eventually - cacao.

The Atlantic Coastal Rainforest isn’t as big, but it’s one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth -- Charles Stewart

They saw how deforestation and other unsustainable harvest methods were running rampant in the region and wanted to create a better, more equitable way for the earth and local community to share the tradition and artistry of chocolate.

Craft-quality cacao

Joaihú chocolate
Pic: Joaihú chocolate

From there, the two chose to plant their chocolate grove in a climate that would yield craft-quality cacao and simultaneously allow them to bolster climate protection efforts.

We wanted to take a holistic approach to agriculture​,” said Stewart. “One that focuses on the interconnection of farming systems with the ecological system as a whole​.”

The farm’s zero carbon footprint, regenerative agriculture practices and encompassing state-recognised wildlife preserve all speak to Joaihú’s commitment to serve as stewards of the earth. Joaihú aims to work in harmony with nature, respecting the give and take between harvest and growth instead of trying to standardise it, he said.

Like wine, cacao expresses the flavours of the terroir in which it’s grown​,” said Robberson. “Brazil produces exquisite cacao, so we make our chocolate accordingly –– in a way that showcases its unique characteristics​.”

The company works with award-winning chocolatier, Diego Badaró, who minimises additives to focus on the cacao trees as the primary source of flavour, meaning that vintages differ.

Joaihú, an ancient Tupi word that means ‘to love and be loved​’, currently offers three percentages of chocolate ranging in intensity from 75% to 85% and 100%. The 100% bar is considered medicinal grade –– one of the most authentic Brazilian cacao bars available on the market.

Each is wrapped in fully compostable packaging and shares the complex and vibrant nutrient-rich flavours imparted by the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest.

Most people know of the Amazon Rainforest, but it’s not the only rainforest in Brazil​,” said Stewart, Joaihú’s cacao producer. “The Atlantic Coastal Rainforest isn’t as big, but it’s one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth​."

Joaihú’s farm, Fazenda Boa Vista, enjoys sweeping views of the rainforest and ocean, far from harmful toxins and pollution. The founders said that they enlisted a pair of visionary farmers to mentor them and help strategically design an agroforestry project that supports the forest’s natural rhythms.

Holistic approach

Their farmers are intentionally trained to be minimal and non-invasive in their maintenance of the grove, carefully trimming rotting limbs and only using organic methods of fertilization to keep the trees healthy and strong.

The two owners ensure their entire team works in only the safest conditions and earns more than fair wages.

We wanted to take a holistic approach to agriculture​,” said Stewart. “One that focuses on the interconnection of farming systems with the ecological system as a whole​.”

Joaihú Craft Brazilian Cacao is now distributed in stores across Central Texas, including Central Market, Tiny Grocer, Thom’s Market, Quickie Pickie, Try Hard Coffee and Dia’s Market. visit joaihu.com for more information.

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