Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Story of Amma Chocolate

Amma Chocolate is quickly becoming the chocolate-of-the-moment here in Brazil and the story of the company makes a very interesting, very 21st century story. In a recent blind tasting sponsored by one of Brazil's largest food and wine magazines, Amma's 70% cocoa chocolate bar beat out such heavyweights of the chocolate world as Lindt, Nestlé and Valrhona. (Click here to read the results of the blind tasting). The very short history of this young company, its stated mission and the philosophies of its owners are reflections of the ways many in the contemporary world of food are looking at what we eat today and what we plan to eat in the future.

Diego Badaró is a fifth-generation cacau planter from the southern part of Bahia state in northeastern Brazil. This area is the historic center of cacau cultivation in Brazil and is home to a large percentage of what's left of the Mata Atlantica, Brazil's largely deforested coastal rain forest. Badaró is passionate about growing the best possible cacau beans for chocolate production and about preserving and fostering the rain forest which is the cacau trees natural habitat. Sometime in 2007 he sent a box of samples of his cacau beans, unsolicited, to Frederick Schilling, the founder and CEO of Dagoba Organic Chocolate, the largest producer and vendor of high-quality organic chocolate in the USA. Schilling was so impressed by the product that within less than a month he was in Brazil to meet Badaró . Realizing that their goals were remarkable similar, the two men decided to start a joint venture in Brazil to produce and market high-quality organic chocolate, sustainable grown.
Badaró (left) and Schilling (right)

This joint venture became Amma Chocolate, and today the company has established a small but very creditable niche in Brazil's booming chocolate market. Their distribution is still very limited and their products can only be found in the best chocolate shops in Brazil's larger metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, Fortaleza, my Brazilian hometown doesn't have a local distributor yet, so I will have to wait for my next visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brasília or Salvador to sample an Amma chocolate bar. It's an experience I'll be looking forward to.

Amma has an excellent website detailing their products and the philosophy behind the company. It is in Portuguese only, but has some great photos and links to some English-language articles on the company. It can be found by clicking here.

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