As you begin to realize the dream of your own chocolate shop, you will need to find a cocoa supplier, a business that harvests and processes cocoa beans to create all of the different kinds of chocolate you will need for your shop. As you search for cocoa suppliers, there are some important things to keep in mind. These important items are the same things you will need to know about your chosen suppliers, how they operate and from where they get their beans.
Does Your Cocoa Supplier Act as a "Middle Man?"
Some cocoa suppliers are "middle men," which means that they do not harvest or process the cocoa beans at all, but rather act as the seller and distributer for other companies that do harvest and process cocoa beans. You will want to avoid these "middle men" suppliers, since their involvement tends to drive up the price of your cocoa and chocolate products, which then drives up your operating costs. Additionally, you may not get the same quality cocoa every time, since these "middle men" will fulfill your orders with whatever cocoa they currently have on hand or have access to.
Is Your Supplier a "Fair Trade" Business?
Much of the cocoa beans grown for the production of chocolate consumption are grown south of the border in hotter, more tropical regions. As such, it is common practice to hire cheap labor in the form of migrant workers, and pay them very little wages to harvest the cocoa pods and beans. The living conditions for these workers is also sub-par, so many chocolate companies take it upon themselves to only purchase cocoa and chocolate products from "fair trade" cocoa suppliers.
These "fair trade" suppliers go out of their way to pay the harvest workers a decent wage and provide them with safe, healthy places to live while the harvest is underway. (Fair trade means that these companies offer a fair trade of wages and lodging for the services provided by the workers.) If you want to support these businesses while operating your own fair trade chocolate shop, then these are the suppliers from which you need to get your cocoa and chocolate-making products.
How Is the Cocoa Processed?
Cheaper cocoa production occurs with the use of chemicals that not only alter the tastes and flavors of the chocolate, but which are not really fit for human consumption. Cocoa processed with alkali is one such example. It is akin to processing and extracting cocoa from the roasted beans with battery acid! Instead, look for cocoa that has been processed and extracted by natural means only. Your chocolates will be sweeter, richer and healthier for it. Contact a business, such as Transmar Group, for more information.