Original Beans

Founded: 2008
Headquarters: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Style: Classic (via Felchlin)
Characteristics: Eco-Luxe organic; aims for the rainbow experience of flavors with all nuances intact & accessible over a clear curve from start to finish
Ferment: region / seed dependent (treats varying cacáos from the smallest Beniano seeds in Bolivia to white cotyledons from Piura, Peru & a more hearty Amazon-type cacáo transplanted to Virunga, Eastern Congo D.R.) & more upcoming originals based on locale particulars to achieve low-defect profiles
Roast: medium to medium-high
Conche: gentle
Impact: Chocolate on a mission. Not a barsmith per se but a specialized seed selector. Original Beans (OB) outsources the actual manufacturing of its bars to Felchlin in Switzerland which allows it to commit its time, energy & capital to cacáo conservation & community development. The purpose is so the label can tackle greater planetary issues. Fearing what scientists term, & what Elizabeth Kolbert titles her book, The 6th Extinction, caused largely by habitat loss in tropical rainforests, OB sets out to halt deforestation in some of the world’s bio-diverse hotspots by replenishing the supply chain… & gives back more than it takes out. (To be fair, overall bio-diversity in sum has increased dramatically between each successive extinction event, including since the last one 66 million years ago when an asteroid struck Earth & wiped out the dinosaurs.) 

Ice-core samples dating back some 800,000 years indicate several CO2 peaks — or carbon dioxide, implicated in greenhouse gas & environmental impact — at roughly 300 parts per million. Most of these occurred before humans arrived on the scene 200,000 year ago. What strikes as unprecedented is that, for the first time ever, recorded levels for COare now approaching 400ppm. Estimates of carbon emissions from deforestation exceed all the world’s traffic combined (sea / land / air).

In the analysis of the consulting firm McKinsey, preserving tropical forests is the single most efficient means to staving off climate change. 

90%+ of the world’s cacao is produced by small stakeholders averaging 3 hectares in size within a narrow latitudinal belt – the so-called 20/20 Zone — that houses all of the planet’s tropical forests. Most of these 5 to 6 million growers operate at subsistence level. Through a global system that incorporates candy giants, commodity brokers & consumers, their unsustainable / sub-economical forest exploitation helps many growers stay afloat while paradoxically keeping them impoverished in a vicious no-way-out cycle. 

OB builds cacáo conservation projects spanning the Amazon to Congo. With their collaboration, family incomes double & sometimes triple; deforestation rates are inversely halved. According to company head Philipp Kauffmann, its Cru Virunga chocolate became the first measurably climate-positive product, offsetting all carbon costs (96g CO2e per bar) with gains from reforestation (370g CO2e storage). He is both quick & sharp to substantiate such metrics (for an in-depth discussion, see OB’s Piura).

This clever & tasteful approach to seduce humans into doing good in order to counter destructive habits resonates with the C-spot’s essay Can Chocolate Still Save the Rainforest… Or Just the Planet? 

All of which bolsters Original Beans’ triple bottom-line that balance the scales in living up to its motto of replanting the planet.


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