Sourcing our origin chocolates

How we source our Single Origin Chocolate

The world of fine chocolate is a wonderful one full of glorious cocoa bean types such as Criollo, Trinitario, Sur del Lago, Arriba & Carenero Superior, all grown in "The Cocoa Belt" of equatorial countries up to 20 degrees either side of the equator, each creating chocolate with very different, complex flavour notes which are also influenced by how it is grown, harvested & processed... similar to wine & quite fascinating.

We only source fine single origin chocolate made with fine cocoa beans as listed above, pure cocoa butter (& no vegetable fats, which usually includes palm oil, which have no place in fine chocolate) and cane sugar. Currently, we work with chocolate made with fine beans grown in Madagascar, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Tanzania & Uganda. 

Fine chocolate accounts for approximately 15% of world cocoa production with the bulk of cocoa being produced (mostly in West Africa) of lower quality bulk cocoa beans.
To date, we don't make chocolate from beans, we are chocolatiers working with couverture chocolate to make all our creations. To use a baking analogy, we are the bakers, rather than the millers. 

We aim to ensure that all our different chocolates are of clear provenance, traceability and sustainability, all have delicious flavour notes & all contribute to our sole aim of delighting you with the resulting taste sensations. Where possible, we work with "beyond fairtrade" or Raisetrade chocolate, ie: chocolate produced from bean to couverture chocolate in its country of origin.

Why is this important to us? We love supporting local companies who are producing chocolate in their country of origin and in doing so are adding significantly more value to their local economies as they are literally raising the value of their trade by exporting an added value finished product vs low value commodity dried cocoa beans, even fairtrade dried beans. It raises the value of their exports and they are employing higher skilled labour, creating a local supply chain, using other local ingredients, such as cane sugar, and generating higher tax revenues. We believe that this different trade model is more sustainable and fairer as it breaks the cycle of developing countries exporting commodity items for us to add the value in the west. Importantly, we can also directly build relationships with them and verify that they are producing chocolate in a fair, sustainable way by visiting them - well, until Covid came along. 

However, we are not currently able to source all of our chocolate from such companies making at source (but we are working on it!), but where we are working with couverture chocolate that is produced in Europe, we work with chocolate made with 100% sustainably sourced cocoa beans as verified by the Cocoa Horizons sustainability programme. Sadly, most of the issues of child labour, exploitation and corruption are in West Africa, where Cocoa Horizons Foundation have many projects to help improve the productivity of cocoa farmers, support communities & improve the opportunities for children to go to school, and we are contributing to their work whenever we buy our high quality origin chocolates from Venezuela & Tanzania.

Improving the sustainablility of growing bulk cocoa for the millions of cocoa farmers and their families in West Africa is a long term project for everyone in the cocoa industry given the number of complex issues that need to be addressed. Whilst it has got better in some respects in the 20 years that we have been in the industry, there is still much work to do done there and as a small business, we are doing our small bit to help support the important work of this sustainability programme.

Our chocolate comes from...

Ecuador - Hacienda Zoilita, Los Rios

As we love to support Raisetrade chocolate produced in its country of origin, we are delighted to be working with Martinetti Cocoa , our first truly Direct Trade partnership which takes us to the next level of partnership, with no middlemen involved! We took delivery of our first 10 tonnes of our new signature dark chocolate containing 72% cocoa solids in October 2021. It was super exciting to see the container arrive at our Dorset HQ and to unload it, it having been loaded by Jonathan & his team at Martinetti, 6 weeks before. We also work with their 100% cocoa mass to make our 100% sugar-free hot chocolate flakes (winner of 1 Star Gold Great Taste Award 2021) for serving in our cafes and also in tubes to enjoy a hot chocolate at home.
Most of our dark chocolate items are made with this 72% chocolate, including seasonal items such as hearts for Valentine's Day & dark chocolate Easter eggs. We also offer this origin as hot chocolate flakes both on sale online, in our shops and as one of our cafe drinks options.

Martinetti Cocoa is a small family-owned chocolate company based in the Los Rios province, a centre of cocoa farming in Ecuador. Established c50 years ago, historically they only exported cocoa beans but now, led by Jonathan Martinetti, grandson of the original founder, they are making added value couverture chocolate at their small factory in Quevedo and we are their first international customer!
Jonathan and his team buy the cocoa beans at a premium price directly from local partner cocoa farms, with whom they have built long term relationships over many years, and ferment and dry at their factory to ensure quality control.

Our Martinetti chocolate also has full traceability down to the single farm it is grown in - Hacienda Zoilita in the north of the province. Hacienda Zoilita is a 200 hectare farm of which 160 hectares are planted with cocoa trees and the remaining with a natural forest of teak and papaya, which also create shade for the cocoa trees. It is a professionally run, family farm with the adults of three families working on the farm whilst children go to school. A benefit for these workers is affiliation to Ecuador's healthcare system (which is not free to access unlike the NHS), which also pays towards a state pension. This farm has also had Rainforest Alliance certification and is in the process of renewing that. They supply Martinetti exclusively with their pure heritage arriba cocoa beans, the national bean of Ecuador, which has a gorgeous rich mellow cocoa flavour with hints of raisin, coffee and citrus tones. All Martinetti chocolate is also soya-free. We are delighted to be working directly with Martinetti chocolate - fully traceable, trusted, sustainable, ethical and delicious!

Madagascar - Sambirano

Madagascar has built a reputation for growing fine cocoa beans that produce delicious chocolate and we are proud to work with Chocolaterie Robert, a Madagascan family-owned chocolate company established in 1940 making all their Raisetrade chocolate from tree to bar on the island. Bursting with red berry fruit notes, gentle acidity and a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel, we work with their grand cru de sambirano 70% dark chocolate for ganaches (the centres of many of our chocolates that are a blend of cream and dark chocolate), bars, award-winning gelato (2 Star Gold Great Taste Award 2020) and hot chocolate flakes available in tubes to make your drink at home & as one of the hot chocolate options in our cafes in our Chocolate Houses (also a 2 Star Gold Great Taste 2021 winner!).
We also love their fabulous low sugar/no sugar range of 65% milk chocolate (which we call Madagascar 'Mega Milk' & winner of a 2 Star Gold Great Taste Award in 2018), 85% 'Mega Dark' & 100% 'Totally Dark' for both ongoing items like mini bars and also seasonal gifts including Easter eggs and Christmas baubles.
Finally, we work with their wonderful Cashew 'Milc' chocolate made with local cashews instead of dairy milk, so is perfect for vegans as it has a wonderful creamy flavour with soft nut notes on the finish. All Chocolaterie Robert chocolate is also soya-free.

Co-founder Claire visited Madagascar in May 2016 and visited both the Chocolaterie Robert factory in Antananarivo & also their cocoa plantations in the Sambirano valley in the North West of the island, so we have a direct relationship with the team there.

The way fine cocoa is grown in Madagascar (& other countries growing fine quality beans) is quite different to West Africa. It is not a subsistence crop grown by large numbers of farmers with tiny plots of land. In Sambirano, there are fewer, bigger cocoa farms and Claire met cocoa farmers & plantation workers (one unique local benefit they get is a paddy field each to grow their own rice), watched the local children going to school rather than working on the farms, and has confidence in the ethics and sustainability of Chocolaterie Robert. Another benefit of working with Robert is that the supply chain is extremely short - the deliveries are sent from the Robert team in Madagascar by sea to a specialist importers in Sussex who pop the chocolate in one of their vans to deliver it to us! We were also one of the first UK chocolatiers to work with their 65% Mega Milk chocolate and the Cashew Milc chocolate. The Robert team also make special blocks of the 70% just for us to flake into our hot chocolate.

Click here to read Claire's blogs to find out more about her trip to Madagascar and how cocoa is produced from tree to Chococo.

Venezuela - Sur del Lago

We are also huge fans of Venezuelan chocolate and it was the first (and only) origin we worked with when we started Chococo back in 2002. Back then, we worked with couverture made by El Rey in Venezuela but they found it increasingly difficult to export it. However, since then we have been able to source Cocoa Horizons verified 100% sustainable cocoa beans from Venezuela which is made into chocolate for us to our own bespoke recipe. This is our house milk chocolate and it is very high in cocoa solids at 45% (& therefore relatively low in sugar than many other milk chocolates) and is also soya-free. We work with this milk chocolate for most of our filled milk chocolates, milk chocolate novelties, seasonal items, studded slabs and award-winning gelato (1 Star Gold Great Taste Award 2021). It is also offered as our 45% milk chocolate hot chocolate flakes online and as one of the hot chocolate options in our Chocolate House cafes.

Our 45% house milk chocolate is made with fine cocoa beans from the Sur del Lago region of Venezuela. This is one of the oldest and most interesting regions growing cocoa in the world. In fact, Venezuela likes to lay claim to be where theobroma cacao tree originated. Colombia & Ecuador will say the same mind! It is generally agreed amongst scientists that originated in the NW reaches of the Amazon basin which extends into all these countries, but the genetics of cocoa are for another page...back to Sur del Lago - It is located in northwestern Venezuela, in the tropical lowlands south west of lake Maracaibo. This region offers very favourable climate conditions to cocoa farmers for the cultivation of high quality cocoa as they are surrounded by tall shade trees (cocoa does not like direct sunlight and is a small shade loving tree), constant tropical heat and sufficient water. Sur del Lago is harvested from fine flavour Criollo and Trinitario trees and is known for its mellow, spicy flavour and the region gives both its name to the beans as well as being its location! We love the fact that over thousands of years many different varieties of cocoa trees have been brought to this region which nowadays serves as a genuine melting pot of natural, genetic crosses of different types of cocoa trees which result into beautifully rounded chocolate flavours.

Another interesting cocoa fact for you - 'theobroma cacao' is the scientific name for the cocoa tree species. It was named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linneas in 1753. Theobroma means 'food of the gods' in greek, and cacao is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word xocolatl, from xococ (bitter) and atl (water). We think he came up with a splendid name and would quite agree with him!


We work with several types of chocolate produced in Colombia by a local company Luker Chocolate which is another example of Raisetrade chocolate supporting the local economy as it is exporting value added products.  Founded in 1906, Luker is a family-owned chocolate manufacturer making exceptional chocolates crafted at origin with a deep commitment to both quality and sustainability. It has a local sustainability programme called the Chocolate Dream to transform the country's cocoa growing regions. There are 38 thousand cocoa-producing families in Colombia that were, in the past, victims of the country’s armed conflict and are subject to poverty and exploitation by the cocaine trade. Luker is focused on contributing to change in these regions in order to improve the quality of life of the farmers and their communities and to help them return to growing theobroma cacao (cocoa) and coffee rather than coca (from which you extract cocaine). 

Our House white chocolate is from Luker and is both aromatic & more flavoursome, (with hints of mild cocoa, flowers & dried fruits), than most other white chocolates as, unusually, it is made with undeodorised natural cocoa butter. Please be aware that this particular chocolate does contain soya lecithin.
By the way, to simply explain why white chocolate is white, it's because it only incorporates cocoa butter which is c50% of every cocoa bean. When roasted cocoa beans are crushed, they form a paste & when that paste is pressed, the fat, or cocoa butter, is extracted. This is white & has the melting properties of chocolate whilst what is left, cocoa powder, has the colour & flavour of chocolate - you need the two to get the full chocolate experience! Hence we don't make a huge amount of white chocolate products.


Better known as the Isle of Spice, as nutmeg is one of its major exports, there is also an expanding cocoa industry on this Caribbean island, driven primarily by the efforts of Mott Green, the founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company. Mott sadly died in 2013, but his team of local people led by Edmund are building on his legacy & make their chocolate from locally grown organic trinitario cocoa beans in a tiny solar powered factory in the north of the island & then sail it across the Atlantic each spring by a Brigantine sailing ship! We would describe their chocolate as being Raisetrade & definitely "beyond fairtrade" - they are hugely ethical (they describe themselves as "a cocoa-growing and chocolate-making cooperative producing single origin chocolate from tree to bar").
We used to work with Mott's chocolate to make various chocolates but after his death, were only able to secure bars for sale in our shops and online. More recently, we have been able to stock it again as Chantal Coady & James Booth, the original founders of Rococo, now the Chocolate Detective, who have supported the Grenada Chocolate Company for many years have been able to get some shipments in to the UK. Supply is intermittant though, so there may be times when we are out of stock as we wait for another batch to come in from the team in Grenada. 


We serve this as one of our menu of single origin hot chocolate options in our cafes and as chocolate drops in tubs for snaffling. This is an intense yet soft, fruity chocolate with 75% cocoa solids and a clean smooth finish. It is also soya-free. Tanzania is a very small cocoa producing country compared to West African countries and this chocolate is made with trinitario beans from cocoa farmers in the Kyela district in the south of Tanzania. This chocolate is also contributing to the Cocoa Horizons sustainability programme in West Africa.


An intense & robust 80% dark chocolate with a rich cocoa taste & slight earthy notes from Bundibugyo region of West Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. We make a vegan-friendly truffle with this chocolate, serve it in our cafes as one of our hot chocolate origins and offer flakes for making a hot chocolate at home. It is also very popular as chocolate drops for both eating & cooking with. This chocolate is also soya-free.